SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Civic officials joined Arab and Muslim leaders to denounce what they call offensive anti-Islamic ads that will appear on 10 buses for the next month in San Francisco.
The ads were paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative and feature Osama bin Laden, the Times Square car bomber and the alleged gunman in the Fort Hood, Texas, shootings accompanied by quotes about warfare and weapons that the group links to Islam.
At least one of the ads contains a quote attributed to the militant Islamic group Hamas that reads: “Killing Jews is worship that brings us closer to Allah.”
Officials said the ads were racist.
“These offensive ads serve no purpose than to denigrate our city’s Arab and Muslim communities,” District Attorney George Gascon said on Monday.
Mayor Ed Lee added, “San Francisco is a city that celebrates its diversity and hateful speech and discrimination against our Arab and Muslim communities will never be tolerated.”
Board of Supervisors president David Chiu was expected to introduce a resolution on Tuesday condemning the ads.
Similar ads have appeared on transit systems in Washington, D.C., Chicago and Portland, Ore. The group ran similar ads in San Francisco in August and has also posted ads in New York City, including one in September that called enemies of Israel “savages.”
Officials with San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Authority believe a First Amendment court decision protecting freedom of speech means it must accept the advertising.
As it did last summer, the transit agency plans to give the $5,000 paid for the ads to the city’s Human Rights Commission to study the impact of discrimination on San Francisco’s Islamic communities and run its own ads against discrimination.
Pamela Geller, executive director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, told The Associated Press on Tuesday the purpose of the campaign is to show the “reality of jihad and root causes of terrorism, from the words of jihadists themselves.”
“City officials denounce our ads, but not the actual quotes from high-profile jihadists calling for holy war and genocide,” she said in an email. “Our new campaign focuses on how jihadists use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and supremacism.”
Associated Press writer Sudhin Thanawala contributed to this report.
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