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.