Smell the sulphur:
The Latest Absurd Anti-Islam Ad Is on a Public Bus Roaming Around Washington, D.C.
The news:Â Your Washington D.C. metro commute is getting a little more unpleasant, thanks to a few intolerant people. At least one D.C. bus is now running with a noxious rant about Muslims on its side.
PolicyMic‘sÂ LailaÂ AlawaÂ posted this image toÂ FacebookÂ of the look at least one D.C. metro bus is now sporting:
Who’s behind this?Â Notorious bigotsÂ Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who are the co-founders ofÂ StopÂ IslamizationÂ of America (SIOA)/American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), both of which the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a hate groups. They’re well known for buying up public ad space to send anti-Islamic messages, specifically putting up New York City subway system ads thatÂ calledÂ Israel’s enemies “savages”Â and depicted theÂ exploding Twin TowersÂ beside quotations from theÂ Quran.
These ads are clearly the work ofÂ SIOAÂ andÂ AFDI. AnÂ AFDI-runÂ IndieGogoÂ pageÂ for this project has raised $3,154 of its $20,000 goal for these ads, and the “totally unbiased”Â IslamicJewHatred.comÂ is just a redirect to Geller’s hate-filledÂ blog. The ad’s banner statement “Islamic Jew-Hatred – It’s in theÂ Quran” is a a long-running catchphrase among members of the far right and Geller in particular.
Classy.Â Besides blatantly labeling all Muslims as anti-Semites, this isn’t even come close to historically accurate.Â HajÂ AminÂ al-HusseiniÂ wasÂ notÂ the leader of the “Muslim world,” but the head of the Muslim community of Palestine until 1937 (well before the pictured meeting in 1941), then the head of Jerusalem until 1948. WhileÂ al-HusseiniÂ was almost certainly anti-Semitic and personally recruited Muslim volunteers for theÂ Waffen-SS, the reality is thatÂ al-HusseiniÂ in 1941 was only the leader of one city. In 1948, JerusalemÂ commandedÂ a population of just 165,000, of whom only 40,000 were even Muslim.
For the claims about “Islamic Jew-hated” being “in theÂ Quran”Â â€” OK. No one would deny that there is a strain of anti-Semitic thinking in some corners of modern Islam or that theÂ Qurancontains disparaging references to the Jews. But scholars have a wide range of opinions on how “authentically” Islamic this is, saying modern presentations could be the result of factors ranging from the spread ofÂ modern European anti-SemitismÂ to the establishment of the Israeli state.
But cherry-picking phrases from theÂ QuranÂ to plaster Muslims as sword-wavingÂ jihadistsÂ is wrong. As theÂ Daily Beast’sÂ ArsalanÂ IftikharÂ wrote in 2012, when the previous wave of Geller ads hit the NYC subway:
“Imagine how millions of peace-loving Christians would react if they saw a subway advertisement during their morning commute showing cherry-picked Bible quotes such as “I come not to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34) or “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled” (Luke 12:49-51), trying to wrongfully portray Christianity as a religion of violence. I think it would be fair to say that most fair-minded Americans would be able to see right through the sinister veneer of these blatantly ridiculous advertisements. Now imagine that we are talking about Islam instead of Christianity.”
What to do about it:Â Geller’s ads have run intoÂ court battles before, winning against NYC’sMTAÂ and appearing in San Francisco as well. In Boston, Geller isÂ appealing a decisionprohibiting her from purchasingÂ MBTAÂ ad space to run the Twin Towers ads. Another federal appeals court recentlyÂ rejected her attemptsÂ to trademark theÂ SIOAÂ name.
It looks like D.C. has either decided toÂ forgoÂ the court battle or determined it isn’t interested in challenging Geller’s anti-Muslim tirades. But while it’s unfortunate Geller has yet another platform to spread her hate, the best response will likely beÂ measured tolerance and support for fair-minded people all over the world, regardless of race or religion.