(CBS/AP) An anti-Islamic advertisement has gone up at several Metro-North Railroad stations in Westchester County.
It reads: “It’s not Islamophobia, it’s Islamorealism.”
The signs were paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an organization ran by blogger and political activist Pamela Geller. It associates Islam with 19,250 terrorist attacks carried out by extremists since the 9/11. She told CBS radio station 1010 WINS in New York that the sign is intended to tell people that it is not “Islamophobic’ to oppose jihad terror.”
“The ad is just stating a fact. There have been well over 19,000 jihadi attacks since 9/11,” Geller said. “People need to know this. Obviously, everybody is surprised by this number and I think that’s part of the reason why we need to run these ads. People need to know this is going on across the world.”
The Metropolitan Transpiration Authority in New York (MTA) said it doesn’t support the sentiment displayed in the ad but doesn’t bar advertising based on content, according to CBS station WCBS in New York.
WCBS also reported that the American Freedom Defense Initiative previously attempted to place another ad with the MTA that had a picture of a mosque next to a plane flying toward the World Trade towers with the words “Why There?” In a decision earlier this summer, the federal court declared that the MTA would be violating the American Freedom Defense Initiative’s First Amendment rights if they blocked that ad, according to CBS radio station WCBS 880 in New York.
The AFDI’s Pamela Gellar argues that the ad isn’t offensive at all and simply points out facts. “It is, as the ad says, Islamorealistic.” But at least one prominent pro-Israel group disagrees. In a statement to NBC4, the Anti Defamation League said, “We believe these ads are highly offensive and inflammatory. Pro-Israel doesn’t mean anti-Muslim.”
Last month, pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel ads appeared at Metro-North stations.
MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph Lhota said the agency may discuss its policies on political ads in September.