Judge to rule on banned ‘jihad’ ad

By Bob Unruh

A federal judge will decide whether New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority can ban an ad that equates the Islamic term “jihad” with “savages.”

The ruling is expected from Judge Paul A. Engelmayer in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, who today heard arguments on a case brought against the MTA by the American Freedom Defense Initiative and its founders, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.

The ad states: “In Any War Between the Civilized Man and the Savage, Support the Civilized Man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

The MTA rejected the ad as “demeaning” to a particular group of people because it suggested that “savages” and “jihad” were linked.

Erin Mersino, representing the Thomas More Law Center, told WND that the MTA witnesses tried to explain the reasoning for allowing earlier ads that said: “Muslims for Peace, Love for All, Hatred for None … WHY ISLAM, ” “A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?” and “Be on our side. We are the side of peace and justice. End U.S. military aid to Israel.”

Questions revolved around whether “jihad” identified people or a behavior.

A ruling is expected in a few weeks.

Attorneys for the American Freedom Law Center, the AFLC, which also is working on the case, said it “appears likely” that the judge will rule in favor of a request for a preliminary injunction to halt the MTA’s restriction on the anti-jihad bus ad.

AFLC attorney David Yerushalmi issued a statement on the case:

Representatives for author and Atlas Shrugs blogger Geller and author and JihadWatch.org Director Spencer argue the government is prohibited from imposing content- and viewpoint-based restrictions on speech.

“As a governmental agency that is subject to the requirements of the Constitution, the MTA cannot allow speech on the controversial subject of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and then pick and choose which messages are acceptable and which are not based on the content or viewpoint,” said Robert Muise, co-founder and senior counsel for the AFLC.

“By doing so, the MTA is violating a fundamental principle of the First Amendment,” he said.

AFDI submitted its proposed ad to CSB Outdoor, an agent for the MTA. It was a political message that responded directly to the pro-Palestine message posted earlier, sponsors said.

“The anti-Israeli advertisement suggests that Israel’s military is the impediment to peace between the Israelis and Palestinians and that U.S. military aid to Israel also acts as an impediment to peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. In other words, the anti-Israel advertisement blames Israel, its military, and U.S. military aid to Israel as the cause of Palestinian terror directed against innocent civilians in Israel and abroad.”

But the MTA said it would not accept the pro-Israel ad.

The real effect, according to the ad’s defenders, is the censoring of the viewpoint that the U.S. foreign policy supporting Israel in the face of savage violence is correct.

“The Constitution does not permit the government, in this case the MTA, to take sides on political issues by silencing one side of the debate,” Muise said.

In a commentary about the dispute, Geller wrote that similar issues have come up in Seattle, San Francisco and Washington.

“The ad is actually referring to the Islamic jihadists who are determined to destroy Israel. And they are savage,” she wrote. “Truth is radical. Morality is radical. But a genocidal ideology is not radical or savage.

“Tell me again why the word ‘savage’ is inaccurate. Everyone is shocked (shocked, I tell ya) by the use of the word savage for savages. As long as the Palestinian Authority continues its savage policy to foment violence and promote hatred, and teaches its children to hate, the number of young Muslims willing to blow themselves up or to slit Israeli throats will continue to increase. That is savage. The Palestinian Authority propaganda of ‘Holocaust denial, racial slurs, anti-Jewish epithets and glorification of terrorists’ is savage,” she wrote.

Her book, “Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance,” documents cases similar to the New York dispute.

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