A national advertising company is refusing to post a controversial billboard showing Arab terrorists armed with explosives and carrying an American driver’s license.
The billboard is sponsored by New York-based Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, which says the campaign “is aimed at state governments who have failed to implement driver’s license reforms that would strengthen our nation against terrorism.”
“We told them we’re not going to run it,” Hal Kilshaw, vice president of governmental relations for Lamar Advertising, told Raleigh’s News & Observer. “They’re clearly trying to play on racial fears to get their message across.”
Based in Baton Rouge, La., Lamar controls nearly 150,000 billboards.
The billboard depicts one “terrorist” wearing a keffiyeh, a traditional Arab headdress, clutching a grenade and a North Carolina driver’s license. Others sport black ski masks concealing their faces as they carry rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
The slogan reads: “Don’t License Terrorists, North Carolina.”
“The message that comes out of this ad is that Arabs are violent and people should fear them,” Christine Saah Nazer of the Arab American Institute told the paper.
But a coalition spokesman denies racial fears are being exploited in the campaign.
“It’s a ridiculous charge,” said spokesman Bill O’Reilly. “This is what terrorists look like.”
“The fact is it’s very easy to walk in to a motor-vehicle office in New Mexico and obtain a driver’s license. You don’t have to prove a legal presence here,” Amanda Bowman, president of the coalition, told the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Bowman says the image on the billboard was copied from a Hamas website and that people criticizing it are “unintentionally defending terrorist images.”