REPORT – Uproar over Islamophobic campaign in Philadelphia – United States

SHAFAQNA – The American Freedom Defense Initiative, a non-profit based in New Hampshire, which includes in its leadership personalities such as Pamela Geller, a prominent pro-Zionist and Muslim hater, stroke again in the U.S. when it rolled out a vicious hate ad campaign against Islam and Muslims in the city of Philadelphia.

The controversy over provocative, and many have said offensive, advertisements on city public transit vehicles continues to grow. A news conference was scheduled Friday morning for interfaith leaders and political officials to denounce the ads.

The ads depict a 1941 meeting between Adolf Hitler and Hajj Amin al-Husseini, a Palestinian Arab supporter of the Nazi regime. The ads criticize United States foreign aid to Islamic nations, stating hatred of Jews is in the Quran and implying foreign aid to Islamic nations supports armed actions against Israel.

SEPTA officials lost a recent court battle not to run the ads in San Francisco on the West coast.

Mayor Nutter held a news conference earlier this week with interfaith leaders to also denounce the ads.

Imam Mikael Shabazz of Masjidullah Inc., who attended the news conference, said his position on the controversial ads is the position of tolerance and understanding and of promoting peace. He encouraged all Muslim residents of the city not to take offense and for Muslim employees of SEPTA to continue to perform their jobs.

“SEPTA is not responsible for these ads,” Shabazz said. “They went through a legal battle and they lost but they spent a lot of money doing it. For the Muslims who are employed by SEPTA, continue to serve and do your job and serve the people.”

The group was also joined by two rabbis who denounced the ads.

“I understand they’re obliging based on a Supreme Court ruling and have to follow the law, which is why it’s important that we’re here — to add a Jewish voice in this public statement against this ad which states Islam is against Judaism, which is completely false,” Rabbi Eli Freedman said. “As Jewish leaders we felt we had to support our Muslim brethren and stand together.”

Rabbi Jake Singer-Beilin said he strongly agrees.

“I agree with what Rabbi Freedman said,” Singer-Beilin said. “I understand that our Constitution guarantees people the right to say a lot of things and some of those things can be ugly. But we have to show that we can speak love and understanding as well.”

Pamela Geller, executive director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, the group behind the ads, said they are important because Islamic anti-Semitism is increasing worldwide and is not being addressed.

“Jews are being driven out of France, the U.K., Sweden and elsewhere in Europe by an increasingly open, aggressive and violent anti-Semitism from those countries’ Muslim populations,” Geller said. “Meanwhile, billions in U.S. aid goes to Muslim countries and the Palestinian Authority, in which anti-Semitic attacks on the Jews and Israel are regularly featured on TV. This endangers the peace of the world. This has to stop. There has to be some accountability.”

By Saturday, 84 SEPTA buses are expected to bear the ads, which will run for one month at a cost of $30,000. SEPTA must accept the ads even if they contain messages that may be disparaging to riders and SEPTA employees.

“After careful consideration, SEPTA has decided not to appeal this ruling,” the statement read. “Our policy was revised in Oct. 2014 to allow the authority to reject these types of ads without violating the First Amendment.”

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