Beliefs Culture

Muslim and anti-Muslim bus ads battle heads to Round 3

The Council on American-Islamic Relations developed an advertising campaign for the District of Columbia metro system in response to anti-muslim ads run last month by another group. Image courtesy Ibrahim Hooper via the Council on American-Islamic Relations

The Council on American-Islamic Relations developed an advertising campaign for the District of Columbia Metro system in response to anti-Muslim ads run last month by another group. Image courtesy of Ibrahim Hooper via the Council on American-Islamic Relations

WASHINGTON (RNS) A Christian, a Muslim and a Jew turn up together on a Washington, D.C., bus.

It’s no joke. They’re the faces of a new ad campaign by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil liberties group. And the ad is the latest volley between Muslim and anti-Muslim groups that has played out most recently on the sides of buses in the nation’s capital.

First, the American Muslims for Palestine ran ads during peak D.C. tourism season, the Cherry Blossom Festival in April, condemning U.S. aid to Israel.

A month later, blogger Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative responded with bus ads featuring photos of Hitler meeting the grand mufti of Jerusalem and a text equating opposition to Israel’s territorial policies with Nazism.

CAIR’s ads, unveiled at a Wednesday (June 11) press conference, highlight “Islam’s commitment to freedom of religion, diversity and peaceful coexistence encouraged by the teachings of the Quran,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

He also announced a crowdfunding effort on Indiegogo to raise the $41,000 it cost to design, publish and circulate the ads on multiple bus routes for a month.

“We do not shy away from debates on issues, but hate speech is a red line and I believe (Geller’s) ads have crossed the line between what is ethical and what is designed to provoke hatred in others,” Awad said at a press conference where he was flanked by Jewish and Christian clergy and activists.

In the CAIR ad text, “we let the Quran speak for itself,” he said. All three people say that the Quran’s verse 2:62 speaks for them when it says:

“Verily, those who have attained to faith, as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians … all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds shall have their reward with their Sustainer; and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve.”

The ad also offers a website link where people can request a free copy of the Quran for the cost of shipping ($9.95).

There was a similar showdown in 2012 when Geller’s group ran ads quoting the Quran with an image of the Twin Towers burning on 9/11. The Metropolitan Area Transit Authority lost in a court challenge to stop the ad. A federal judge ruled these issue ads have First Amendment free speech protection.

CAIR responded then with an ad of its own, quoting verse 7:199 from the Quran: “Show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant.”

CAIR releases describe Geller as a member of the “anti-Muslim inner circle” who has been “repudiated by interfaith leaders.” On Wednesday, Rabbi Charles M. Feinberg, Congregation Adas Israel, said that because of Geller’s  “vicious” ads, Muslims are “being yelled at and disrespected.”

Geller, responding by email, called that characterization “a calumny invented by people who are determined to discredit all foes of jihad terror, so that jihad terror can advance unopposed and unimpeded.”

In response to the ad’s text, Geller pointed to a different Quran verse, condemning people who seek a faith other than Islam as “losers.”

“CAIR knows this,” she said, “and is trying to deceive gullible non-Muslims.”




About the author

Cathy Lynn Grossman

Cathy Lynn Grossman specializes in stories drawn from research and statistics on religion, spirituality and ethics. She also writes frequently on biomedical ethics and end-of-life-issues


Click here to post a comment

  • CAIR is the last group that should be lecturing anyone on hate. CAIR hates Jews, Christians, critics of jihad, and women who dare speak out on honor killings.

  • The real nonsense is the cries of hate coming from a group whose leadership was convicted of funding Hamas. CAIR is an apologist for the Muslim Brotherhood and supports honor killings.

  • According to two hadith (Vol. 3, Book 43, Number 656 Bukahri; and Book 37, Number 4310 Abu Dawud) as well as the “Reliance of the Traveller,” Jesus’s role in end times is to kill all non-Muslims who refuse to convert to Islam, thus destroying all religions but Islam. I wonder whether those hadith speak for the folks in the bus ad.

  • I didn’t say CAIR were altarboys (or anything about the organization).

    Their ad, however is not particularly offensive in of itself. The Geller one is outright inflammatory.

    Frankly I wouldn’t mind if both groups were thrown under the buses they are advertising on.

  • Sorry LARRY Facts on ISLAM are not nonsense…just because it does not paint ISLAM as peaceful…it is still FACTS. The more ya know about CAIR the more ya see them for the JIAHDISTS they really are..look into CAIR LARRY…they are AMERICA’S ENEMY…

  • Read more about Nihad Awad in the trial record of the Holy Land Foundation case, the largest terrorist financing case ever brought and won by the U.S. Govt. It’s online. Hint: look at the FBI recordings of Awad and his pals. He is a big fan of Hamas. See the Affidavit in Support of Search Warrant 26.

  • If they (G-d FORBID) start kidnapping & selling little Jewish girls like they are little Christian & Hindu girls in Egypt , India ,Syria, Africa & around the world like they have done for CENTURYS! then things might get organized.

  • I don’t know anything about the history or makeup of CAIR, but it seems that their bus ads are at least trying to promote peace and harmony between faiths. Geller’s ads on the other hand promote hatred, disharmony, divisiveness and an obviously mean spirit.

    Those (like Pam Geller) seem to take the CAIR ad only as some sort of affront because of their own personal (mis)interpretation of Islam. And by such a response they simply reveal their contempt for any efforts towards interfaith harmony. They prefer instead to engage in generalised slurs and misinformation about the religion of Islam. Pam Geller may finally have a point after all when she describes such non Muslims as “gullible”.

  • CAIR is the real hate group. CAIR hates those who criticize Boko Haram. CAIR advocates silencing critics of honor killings and suicide bombings. CAIR has sponsored speakers like Siraj Wahhaj and Abdel Malik Ali who have advocated hatred of Jews and Christians. CAIR needs to clean its own house first.

  • They aren’t facts on Islam either. Anyone who can paint an entire religion of over a billion people in one shade is not giving facts. They are just spouting off bigoted nonsense.

    Its never going to be any more valid than your typical racist talking about blacks or a neo-nazi discussing the “vast zionist conspiracy”.

    Islam is no more a religion of peace than Christianity is or any religion is. The idea that one opposes religious extremists by being one for another faith is both ridiculous and counterproductive.

    Pamela Geller is the best stooge Al Queda never had to pay for. She confirms all the lies the Islamicists say about the west. She encourages the behavior that just creates more jihadis. The more you spout off about how Islam is evil, the easier it is to recruit more Islamic extremists. Dangerous idiocy. YOU ARE NOT HELPING

    As for CAIR being the enemy of America, until they start getting involved with actual lawbreaking sort of stuff, they are like every other political group. Even Neo-nazis, communists, and religious extremists of all types are entitled to free speech.

    The people who are the real enemy of America are the morons who want to take shortcuts with our freedoms, who attack the liberties making America worth defending, because they are so stupidly hateful.

    Every time someone like you or Geller start saying, “Muslims should not be allowed to build a mosque” or “We cannot allow a Muslim cemetery” or “teaching Islam is treason” you do more damage to our nation than 1000 suicide bombers ever could.

  • Until they do, you are doing nothing but fear-mongering.

    God forbid anyone actually bother to understand what free speech means.

    [Btw don’t even bother telling me how evil Islam is or how they will make shwarma out of my murdered corpse. It is irrelevant to all notions of the 1st Amendment ]

  • I’ll support Muslims building mosques in America and Europe when the Muslim world allows the construction of churches and synagogues in their part of the world. CAIR is the enemy of America. They are a front for Hamas.

  • You support CAIR, which hates free speech. CAIR advocates censoring critics of honor killings and suicide bombings. Liberal hypocrites like you want Somali welfare moochers in my neighborhood, but you would be the first to complain if they flooded yours.

  • i am not stupid enough to hold this nation to the same standard of behavior as absolute dictatorships. I guess other people are not.

    We are Americans. We are better than that. We are better than the rest of the world in that respect. Why drag ourselves to the level of countries and governments who are not as good as us?

  • I don’t give a flying crap about CAIR. From what I read about them from non-crazy sources, I don’t really care much for them. But it makes no difference.

    I am an American. I believe in the values of our nation and the idea of rule of law.Until they get convicted of doing something really anti-social, I will treat them like every other American political organization. Entitled to free speech. Innocent until proven guilty.

    I love our country and the freedoms it stands for enough to be willing to defend anyone seeking free speech and free exercise of their religion within all reasonable limits accepted by the 200+ years of constitutional interpretation.

    “Liberal hypocrites like you want Somali welfare moochers in my neighborhood, but you would be the first to complain if they flooded yours.”

    So you are a racist and nativist too. Not surprised. You are also entitled to free speech and free exercise of religion. I don’t have to agree with a word you say to be willing to defend such things.

  • “Larry, Islam is not a race”
    And the skin tone of your average Somali is what again? 🙂

    “Yet you live in the whitest neighborhoods in the area.”

    You make that statement based on what? Oh yes, your preconceptions and prejudices like everything else.

    I live just outside Newark New Jersey. I don’t think anything within a 100 mile radius of that city qualifies as the “whitest neighborhoods” anywhere. 🙂

    I am in an interracial/inter faith marriage. I don’t just say it, I live it. You are just being a little angry troll there.

    You are a traitor to our nation. Someone willing to treat its freedoms and principles like effluence out of fear.

    People like you do more damage to the US than Al Queda ever could. You attack things like the 1st Amendment, rule of law, equal protection. Things our nation absolutely depends on in order not to descend into the craphole status, like those countries you criticize.

    “those who sacrifice Liberty for Security deserve neither”
    -Benjamin Franklin

  • OK… so most you guys are Islamophobic bigots plain and simple. I went to Orthodox Jewish school, had a Bar Mitzvah etc. You anti CAIR/MPAC people are just ignorant and filled w hate. I’m 32 and have studied religion,and primarily Islam after 9/11 since I was 16. I don’t know if you’re on Facebook but if you are I’ve made a page that just throws all ur bigoted misconceptions about Islam in the trash. You’re welcome to join it, it has great complete books teaching what Islam really Is compared to ur Robert Spencer views…
    I pray that you grow intellectually and humanely.