NEW YORK – In a move likely to enflame Muslim anger following a film insulting Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him), an advertisement equating jihad to savagery is due to appear in subway stations in New York City next week.
"It's like the anti-Islam film that is creating controversy,” Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), was quoted as saying by Reuters.
“It is designed to offend, designed to provoke.”
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An ad equating jihad to savagery is set to appear on ten subway stations in New York City next week.
"In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man,” the ad reads.
“Support Israel/Defeat Jihad," the ads concludes, wedged between two Stars of David.
The ads were rejected by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) for its demeaning language.
But the decision was challenged in court by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which is behind the ad campaign.
In July, US District Judge Paul Engelmayer ruled that the ad was protected speech.
While agreeing with the MTA that the ad was "demeaning a group of people based on religion," the judge ruled that the group was entitled to the "highest level of protection under the First Amendment."
The anti-jihad ads will be displayed as of Monday.
"Our hands are tied,” MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said.
“The MTA is subject to a court ordered injunction that prohibits application of the MTA's existing no-demeaning ad standard.”
Jihad is often stereotyped by Western media as meaning “holy war”.
But Muslim scholars have repeatedly affirmed that the word Jihad, which is mentioned in the Noble Qur'an, means "struggle" to do good and to remove injustice, oppression and evil from society.
Karen Armstrong, the prominent and prolific British writer on all three monotheistic religions, has criticized stereotyping the Arabic word "jihad" as merely meaning holy war.
American Muslims have warned that the ads fuel hatred against the sizable religious minority.
“We’re encouraging American Muslims to go out there and define themselves,” Muneer Awad, the executive director of CAIR’s New York chapter, told The New York Times.
The ad campaign comes amid a widespread Muslim fury at a US-made film defaming Prophet Muhammad.
Produced by an American-Israeli real estate developer, the film portrays the Prophet as a fool, philanderer and a religious fake.
The movie was promoted by US pastor Terry Jones, who angered Muslims in 2010 with plans to burn the Noble Qur’an.
Angry with the film, thousands of Muslims took to the streets worldwide to protest the defamatory movie.
The CAIR official called on MTA to redirect its funds from the ads to the city’s Human Rights Commission.
“It’s perfectly legal to be a bigot and to be a racist,” Awad said.
“We want to make sure there’s a counter-voice.”
Since 9/11, Muslims, estimated between six to seven million, have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith.
Anti-Muslim sentiments sharply grew in the United States over plans to build a mosque near the 9/11 site in New York, resulting in attacks on Muslims and their property.A recent report by CAIR and the University of California said that Islamophobia is on the rise in the US.
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