Beliefs

No images of Prophet Muhammad — or any issue ads — will run on D.C. transit

Washington DC and other transit systems are now refusing all issue ads to avoid being forced to use inflammatory ads from Pamela Geller's anti-Muslim group American Freedom Defense Initiative. Photo by Mike Stone, courtesy of Reuters.
Washington DC and other transit systems are now refusing all issue ads to avoid being forced to use inflammatory ads from  Pamela Geller's anti-Muslim group  American Freedom Defense Initiative. Photo by Mike Stone, courtesy of Reuters.

Washington DC and other transit systems are now refusing all issue ads to avoid being forced to use inflammatory ads from Pamela Geller’s anti-Muslim group American Freedom Defense Initiative. Photo by Mike Stone, courtesy of Reuters.

(Reuters) – The Washington D.C. transit system on Thursday suspended all “issue-oriented” advertising after being asked to run a subway ad featuring a cartoon depiction of the Prophet Mohammad.

The ban, approved unanimously by the board of directors of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, prohibits political, religious and advocacy ads through the end of the year, a spokesman said.

The transit system had been asked by the American Freedom Defense Initiative to display the cartoon that won first prize at an event in Texas this month at which two gunmen opened fire near the venue and wounded a security guard before they were shot and killed by police.

The ad, which calls for Americans to support free speech, features a bearded, turban-wearing Muhammad waving a sword and shouting: “You can’t draw me!”

In reply, a cartoon bubble portrays an artist grasping a pencil and saying: “That’s why I draw you.”

All visual depictions of the prophet of Islam are considered sacrilegious by many Muslims.

Pamela Geller, founder of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, described the cartoon as “political opinion.”

“There is nothing violent in that cartoon,” she said in an interview on Thursday. “If there is a group you cannot criticize … it’s the tyranny of that group.”

After the transit authority vote, Geller told The Washington Post, “WMATA has submitted to the assassin’s veto,”

The Washington decision follows a vote in April by New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority to ban all political ads after losing a court battle with the group over an ad that read: “Hamas Kills Jews.”

The group, which is on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s annual list of U.S. hate groups, has run controversial ads on subways and buses in Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco, and it ran an ad on Washington’s Metro in 2012.

The cartoon ad did not come up during the board meeting on Thursday when the vote was taken, according to spokesman Dan Stessel.

Nihad Awad, head of the Council on American Islamic Relations, said Geller and the American Freedom Defense Initiative were trying to turn the public against American Muslims.

“They are using their free speech to propagate misconception and to divide people along ethnic or religious lines,” he said. “It is up to the Metro authorities to deal with these hateful groups.”

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13 Comments

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  • OK, maybe put it on a billboard, which doesn’t contain innocent passengers?

    Also, are these yet available framed for the living room wall, bumperstickers, etc?

  • Can somebody please tell me why the so-called “secular media” keeps referring to Mohammad as the “Prophet Mohammad.”

    Why not give other religious figures the same entitlement that their followers give them?

  • It probably helps to distinguish him from all the other Mohammeds in the world, of which there are many.

    Also, the media, amongst others, already give religious figures their “entitlement,” often without thought to what they are actually saying. Jesus’s surname was not “Christ.” Priests and preachers are referred to as “father” and “reverend,” despite being childless or deserving of reverence. “Dalai Lama” is not a name but a title.

    “Pope,” “bishop,” “mother,” “sister,” “rabbi:” the list of “entitlements” goes on.

  • “”They are using their free speech to propagate misconception and to divide people along ethnic or religious lines,” he said…..””

    So what? Free speech!
    If the KKK can have a rally and Skinheads can have a convention, I see no reason why Anti-religious groups should be silenced.

    Religions are just dumb ideas.
    To criticize dumb ideas is a public service.

    So instead the buses still permit Ads like these:

    Exxon Gasoline (pro fracking, pollution and global warming)
    Casino gambling at Foxwoods (pro money wasting nonsense)
    Drinking Absolut Vodka (pro drunkeness)
    Bud light (pro more drunkeness)

    We Americans accept the consequences of Freedom!
    Do the Muslims?
    We are surrendering to the Assassin’s Veto. For this?
    So are we all Muslims now?

    For shame.

  • “why the so-called “secular media” keeps referring to Mohammad as the “Prophet Mohammad.”

    Because there is a gun on the table and it is being waved by Islamic Assassins.
    And Americans don’t seem to understand that we must not give in to this. Especially at this point when it is easiest to stand up to it.

    Nip this in the bud by exercising free speech at every opportunity. Fair or fowl – it is time to deny these bullying clerics their right to silence our Constitution!

  • This is what the Ads should say:

    “Infidels are those who declare: “God is the Christ, the son of Mary.” (Sura 5:17)

    Or this one:

    “Believers, take neither the Jews nor the Christians for your friends.” (Sura 5:51)

    Or would that be racist?
    Is it more insensitive to talk about Islam? Or is it more insensitive to ignore it?

    If we avoid insensitivity does this mean we are all Muslims now?
    Where is the American bravery in the face of such an assault on our Constitution?

    No guns or violence is needed in this argument!
    Merely embrace your right and your freedom to speak and THAT ALONE will do enough to stop this nonsense.

    Shame on DC for silencing discussion.

  • No, the secular media would have to say, “Jesus, the Christ” for it to have the same relevance as the “Prophet Mohammad.”

  • “Muslims are probably having the last laugh at this cartoon.”

    There isn’t anything funny about this situation.
    There is nothing to fear regarding American Muslims and they are doing great work especially in science, medicine and the tech industry.

    But Islam THE PHILOSOPHY is nonsense. And it is in direct opposition to freedom of speech. American Muslims should lead the way out of this mess.

    But if Muslims don’t step up to bring this conversation out – the rest of us must do it instead, because Americans have a vital interest in Freedom of Speech.

  • John Hall- why? Doesn’t Jesus Christ mean Jesus the Messiah? Why insert the English “the” into a Greek form?

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