The ads, which are being paid for by a group called the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which was created by right-wing blogs and think tanks, have been criticized as racist and anti-Islamic because of their claims that 19,250 “terrorist attacks” have been carried out by Muslims since Sept. 11, 2001. The ads post that number while saying “It’s not Islamophobia, it’s Islamorealism” and they have brought about quick condemnation from local residents and officials.
...[Greenwich, CT] resident Sarah Littman said she saw the ad at the Cos Cob Station last week and quickly filed a letter of complaint with both the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and the Connecticut Commuter Rail Council and wrote to all three selectmen as well as the District 8 members of the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) as well as her State Rep. Fred Camillo (R-151).
“I was shocked and incredibly offended when I saw the ad,” Ms. Littman told the Post, adding that she has received a lot of support from those she has written to. “One of the reasons I love living in Cos Cob is that it has such a small town, bucolic feel to it with a strong sense of community. To have this kind of dreadful hate speech blasting you in the face as soon as you drive into the parking lot was shocking to me.”
The ads are being paid for by blogger Pamela Geller, who lists her own blog atlasshrugs.com on the signs along with two other web addresses jihadwatch.org and sioa.us. Ms. Geller has come under heavy criticism for past statements made on her blog attacking Islam, President Barack Obama and Democrats in general, but in an interview with the Post this week she said she is only trying to make people aware “of the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat” and claims the number of attacks cited in the ad is a “fact” taken from the website thereligionofpeace.com, which has also been accused of inflating its numbers and making racist and unfair criticisms of Islam.
Ms. Geller has brought this campaign nationally, recently taking out ads in San Francisco, Calif. with even stronger language, saying supporting Israel and “defeating jihad” is supporting the “civilized man” over the “savage.” Those ads have not been displayed in the area. Last month, a New York judge upheld her ability to run the ads under First Amendment grounds of freedom of speech when the MTA tried to block them...
...Ms. Littman said that what the sign represents and the statements of the people behind the ads are destructive and bigoted.
“As a Jew I find it particularly outrageous,” Ms. Littman said. “If more people in Germany had stood up when there was anti-Jewish rhetoric and not just been bystanders, then perhaps my relatives might have survived. I feel very strongly whenever you see this kind of bigoted and hate-filled rhetoric. It’s very important for me as a human being and particularly as a Jew to stand up against it.”
Ms. Littman is not the only person who has complained and the issue is not isolated to Greenwich either. The ads are up at several Metro North stations in Connecticut, Westchester and New York City and have been denounced as bigoted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a leading Islamic civil rights and education group.
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