More controversial anti-Islamic advertisements are scheduled to be coming to Muni buses, with the new messages quoting anti-gay rhetoric from Islamic leaders. The head of the initiative said local gay leaders’ criticism of previous ads led to the latest effort.
A number of city officials, religious figures and community activists held a news conference last week to condemn a set of ads paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative that expressed views widely seen as anti-Islamic.
The messages, containing phrases attributed to notorious figures such as Osama bin Laden, were the second set of Muni ads paid for by the organization.
In both instances, Muni dedicated revenue from the campaigns to the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. The $3,000 in revenue for the next ads also likely will be donated.
With Muni unable to refuse the ads because of First Amendment conflicts, initiative leader Pamela Geller has created another campaign to run on six Muni buses starting in early April. The new ads quote Islamic leaders making inflammatory comments, this time about homosexuality.
One message quotes Yusuf al-Qaradawi of the Muslim Brotherhood saying, “The punishment of homosexuality is the death penalty.” Each ad ends with the same line as the previous campaign: “That’s His Jihad. What’s Yours?”
Geller said she decided to embark on the campaign after hearing gay leaders in San Francisco denounce her previous ads.
“The ads will increase awareness about the subjugation and oppression of gays under Shariah law,” said Geller. “The gay community should be standing with me, not against me.”
Theresa Sparks, head of the Human Rights Commission, said the ad campaigns are another example of Geller categorizing an entire religion as intolerant.
“She is posting these ads to suggest that all Muslims hate gays,” Sparks said. “Some cultures do discriminate, and that’s wrong. It all depends who you’re talking to. But she’s trying to generalize and cast this wide net around a diverse group of people.”
Sparks, who is transgender, said it’s actually easier to get insurance for sexual transition procedures in Iran than in America.
In a post Tuesday on Geller’s blog, Atlas Shrugs, she dedicated the latest campaign to Sparks.
Geller has run similar campaigns in other cities, and the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority attempted to bar the ads from its vehicles. However, a federal judge ruled in July that such a move would be unconstitutional.
Last week, Muni announced that it would run an ad campaign to counter the American Freedom Defense Initiative’s messages. Those ads, located inside more than 100 buses, espouse messages of peace and acceptance.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have both deemed the American Freedom Defense Initiative a hate group.