An Ohio automobile dealership has backed away from a plan to air “jihad”-themed car commercials, saying that it was an attempt at humor that “fell short.”
An official with Dennis Mitsubishi in Columbus, Ohio, told CAIR-Ohio that the dealership was apologizing for any misunderstanding, according to a statement released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Ohio organization.
“The public reaction to this story has been significant,” the group quoted a Dennis dealership official as saying. “A large number of people have contacted us. Lots of them have seen the humor we were trying to convey, but far too many were clearly bothered by it.
“I wish to offer my sincere apology to anyone who was offended. We do not wish to alienate anyone in our community – all of whom are potential customers.”
“We appreciate the dealership’s constructive reaction to feedback about the proposed advertisements,” said Adnan Mirza, a spokesman for the CAIR organization. “We accept the apology from Mr. Dennis and hope that it and the decision not to air the spots will bring this incident to a close.”
CAIR, which has its headquarters in Washington, D.C., has 32 officers, chapters and affiliates across the U.S. and Canada. It says its mission is “to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.”
CAIR is a spin-off of the Islamic Association for Palestine, identified by two former FBI counterterrorism chiefs as a “front group” for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Several CAIR leaders have been convicted on terror-related charges.
Keith Dennis earlier had declared that “terrorists are fair game” in announcing his company’s campaign for “a jihad in the automarket.” He had promised prospective customers that sales personnel would be wearing “burqas” and one of the featured vehicles “can comfortably seat up to 12 jihadists in the back.”
“Our prices are lower than the evildoers’ every day. Just ask the pope!” the ad continued. “Friday is fatwa Friday, with free rubber swords for the kiddies.”
However, Dennis found resistance in the Columbus market, where at least eight radio stations declined to put them on the air.
Dennis initially refused to back down.
“We firmly believe the ad does not in any way disrespect any religion or culture, but we feel, I guess, that maybe poking a little fun at radical extremists is fair game,” Dennis said. “It was our intention to craft something around some of the buzzwords of the day and give everyone a good chuckle and be a little bit of a tension reliever.”
“With no disrespect to their creativity or their desire to build business, everything we’re about is promoting the values of diversity. To air things of that sort would go against our mission statement,” Jeff Wilson, general manager of Radio One stations WCKX, WJYD and WXMG told the Columbus Dispatch.
Dennis Mitsubishi spokesman Aaron Masterson said the company, which writes and produces its own ads, was not prepared for the reaction from some stations and admits that the “aggressive” campaign would have broken new ground.