Predictable Sharia compliance in Detroit on our latest AFDI ad. Pamela Geller explains: “Our message parallels the atheist ads. Since they were accepted, I modeled this ad after theirs, to see if the freedom of speech applied to criticism of Islam in our cowardly and politically correct age. This is the same government agency that refused to run our “Leaving Islam?” ads that were designed to help Muslim girls who wanted to lead more Western lives escape dangerous devout households. SMART refused. My legal team, David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center and I sued. We won. They appealed to the 6th circuit court (a sharia-sensitive court). The Sixth Circuit said that the ad was a political ad — SMART doesn’t run political ads. So in my quest to fight on, I wanted to point out their hypocrisy as we go back to court. This rejection does just that. We fight on.”
Religious advertisements have been known to spark intense debate. Consider the anti-God billboards
that are regularly posted by non-theist groups like the Freedom From
Religion Foundation and American Atheists. But it isn’t only
non-believers who invoke controversy with their messaging.
Pamela Geller and her American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) have also come under intense scrutiny
for subway and bus ads that target Islamic extremism. Now, the AFDI is
embroiled in a new battle over a proposed anti-Muhammad ad that was
rejected this week by Detroit’s Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional
Transportation (SMART) bus system.
In an e-mail to TheBlaze on Tuesday
evening, the AFDI president noted that, while SMART previously accepted
an “anti-God” atheist ad from the Detroit Coalition for Reason (DCOR),
the public transit company has rejected her organization’s ad. This is
particularly interesting, seeing as the AFDI modeled its design almost
entirely after the DCOR”s banner.
“Our ad, same ad, with one word flipped, was rejected,” Geller told TheBlaze.
The original atheist design featured clouds and the words, “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.” The organization’s web address
was also present to the bottom left of the ad, sending Internet users
to a web site that encourages people to “shine the light of reason” and
to reject faith and religion.
As you can see [above], AFDI ad looks
almost entirely similar to the aforementioned description. The only
difference between the designs is that the word “God” is swapped out for
“Muhammad,” the holy prophet in the Islamic faith. And the web address
in the latter ad encourages those viewing it to go to
TheTruthAboutMuhammad.com, a web site that wages some potentially-offensive allegations against the religious figure.
Obviously the similarities were
intentional, with Geller telling TheBlaze that her quest to see the
Muhammad ad get placed had everything to do with examining free speech
as it applies to the Islamic faith.
“This message parallels the atheist
ads “” “˜Don’t Believe in God? You”re Not Alone” “” that ran previously,”
she explained. “Since they were accepted, I modeled this ad after them
to see if the freedom of speech applied to criticism of Islam in our
cowardly and politically correct age.”
In a letter that Geller forwarded to
TheBlaze, CBS Outdoor’s Howard Marcus rejected the ad, citing a past
legal battle that AFDI waged against SMART over a previous rejection.
“The proposed advertisement submitted
by Pamela Geller has been reviewed under SMART”s content policy. SMART,
consistent with its review process, also reviewed the referred-to
website: thetruthaboutmuhammed.com,” read Marcus” e-mail. “Consistent
with its policy, with the Sixth Circuit opinion in AFDI v SMART, and
consistent with other law, SMART declines to post the advertisement.”
Geller, who is less-than-content with
the decision not to allow the Muhammad ad, called SMART”s response to
her request “sharia compliance in accordance with blasphemy laws under