NYC Mayoral Candidate, Lhota, Courts Muslim Votes

Prayer mats, pointing in the direction of Mecca, lined a pedestrian plaza and an entire block on 73rd Street in Jackson Heights, Queens, early on Thursday to mark the end of a month of fasting for Muslims and the beginning of a three-day feast that is traditionally spent in the company of close family and friends. Colored flag streamers hung along the sides of the streets, recycled boxes were circulated through the crowd to collect donations and hundreds of men took their shoes off and stood side by side to pray.

 

It was the usual scene — except for an unusual visitor this year.

 

Joseph J. Lhota, one of the Republican candidates for mayor, appeared before the sizable gathering, mostly South Asian and Muslim people, to introduce himself. While many of the Democratic candidates have made themselves known to the Muslim community in Jackson Heights and throughout other parts of the city, the Republican candidates have remained largely invisible.

 

But Mr. Lhota, addressing a congregation that had gathered in Diversity Plaza, said, “I really appreciate everything that the Muslim community brings to New York.

“I want to be your mayor,” he added. “I want to be the mayor of all New Yorkers.”

Several Democratic candidates for mayor have courted New York’s growing Muslim population by making specific promises. John C. Liu, currently the city comptroller, said he believed that surveillance of Muslim institutions by the Police Department was unconstitutional. Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, promised to add two Muslim holidays to the school calendar. Anthony D. Weiner, a former member of Congress, pointed out that he was married to a Muslim woman.

 

By contrast, Mr. Lhota, a former chief of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority who previously served as a deputy mayor in the administration of Rudolph W. Giuliani, kept his message short and broad.

 

“It is very important,” he said, “that we continue to make sure that New York City is the city of opportunity and a place where people from all over the world want to come to be able to fulfill their American dream.”

 

More provocative ads go up in NYC subways from group that equated Muslims with ‘savages’

NEW YORK — The group that equated Muslim radicals with savages in advertisements last year has put up another set of provocative ads in dozens of New York City subway stations.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative purchased space next to 228 clocks in 39 stations for ads with an image of the burning World Trade Center and a quote attributed to the Quran saying: “Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers.”

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said the ads went up Monday and will run for a month.

The same group paid for ads to be displayed in 10 stations in September. Those ads implied enemies of Israel are “savages.”

The MTA also sold space last year to competing advertisements that urged tolerance.

After flap over pro-Israel ‘savage’ ad, NY subway ads on politics, religion to get disclaimers

NEW YORK — The Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved new guidelines for advertisements on Thursday, prohibiting those that it “reasonably foresees would imminently incite or provoke violence or other immediate breach of the peace.”

Under a policy adopted Thursday by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, ads expressing political, religious or moral viewpoints will have to include legends cautioning that the views being expressed aren’t necessarily endorsed by the MTA. The disclaimers also will carry the names of the people or groups sponsoring the advertisements.

The ad, which began running in the nation’s biggest transit system this month as a result of the court order, says, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

This week, an Egyptian-born U.S. columnist was arrested for spray-painting one of the advertisements in a Manhattan subway station. The columnist, Mona Eltahawy, who calls herself a liberal Muslim who’s spoken publicly against violent Islamic groups, said as police officers were arresting her, “I’m an Egyptian-American, and I refuse hate.”

In a statement, the MTA said it had considered banning political speech and restricting ads to only those with commercial messages.

Provocative ads promoting defeat of ‘savage’ jihad appear in NYC subways, draw criticism

NEW YORK — Provocative advertisements equating Muslim radicals with savages appeared in New York City subways on Monday, drawing immediate criticism from some riders.

“It’s a terrible idea,” said Colby Richardson at a subway station in midtown Manhattan. “It’s going to spark controversy obviously when you deem one side savages and the other side civilized. “

The ads — reading, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” — went up in 10 stations across Manhattan after a court victory by a conservative commentator who once headed a campaign against an Islamic center near the World Trade Center site.

Many commuters in New York City were uncomfortable with a new series of subway ads that equate Muslim radicals with savages. The MTA was forced to put up the ads in the subway system after a lawsuit by anti-Islamic blogger Pamela Geller. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York initially refused to run blogger Pamela Geller’s ad, saying it was “demeaning.” But a federal judge ruled in July that it is protected speech under the First Amendment.

Protesters denounce Metro North ads as Islamophobic, call on MTA to rethink campaign

WHITE PLAINS — As supporters held up signs protesting Islamophobia, a coalition of community leaders and residents gathered downtown Thursday to denounce anti-Muslim advertisements posted at Metro-North stations throughout Westchester County.

The coalition revealed its plan to counter the anti-Islamic campaign, calling on Metro-North to distance itself from the advertisement and donate revenue earned from its publication to an organization that combats extremism.

Paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative — a group led by Pamela Geller — the ads associate the religion of Islam with 19,250 terrorist attacks carried out by extremists since Sept 11, 2001. Printed in large block lettering on a dark background, an asterisk denotes that number is rising, and a slogan below reads: “It’s not Islamophobia, it’s Islamorealism.”

Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to publicly denounce the signs, suggesting a disclaimer be placed on Metro-North platforms saying the agency does not support the advertisement.

Marjorie Anders, a spokeswoman for Metro-North Railroad, said it does not endorse the viewpoint expressed in the ad but refrains from banning advertising based on its message. Anders added that the railroad relies on advertising to generate revenue. MTA chairman and CEO, Joseph Lhota, has indicated the agency will discuss its policies on political ads later this month.

Anti-Islam Ads Remixed in San Francisco and New York

As my colleague Benjamin Weiser reported last month, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had violated the First Amendment rights of a pro-Israel group by refusing to run an ad that refers to Arabs as “savage” on 318 city buses.

The ad campaign was devised by Pamela Geller, the crusading anti-Islam blogger who fought to block the construction of an Islamic cultural center and mosque near the site of the World Trade Center two summers ago. The full text of the ad, which refers to a statement by Ms. Geller’s intellectual hero Ayn Rand, reads: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.” Then, between two Stars of David, the tag line appears: “Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

While the judge gave the New York City transit system 30 days to consider its options for appeal, the ads have already appeared on the sides of buses in San Francisco, provoking anger from Muslims and supporters of the Palestinian cause.

As the local ABC affiliate in San Francisco reported, the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency took the unusual step of denouncing the ads and running huge disclaimers on the sides of the buses to disavow what a spokesman called the “repulsive” message from Ms. Geller’s group it was forced to accept.