A hearing on Thursday will decide whether a set of controversial advertisements that refer to Muslims as “savages” will be posted in Washington, D.C.’s subway system. The injunction hearing comes following Pam Geller’s complaint that that the ads, funded by her American Freedom Defense Initiative, have been blocked by the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) system in violation of her freedom of speech.
The move to temporarily block the ads came in light of the current tensions around the world due to the infamous “Innocence of Muslims” video that sparked worldwide protests. WMATA Police Chief Michael Taborn in court documents asserted that he himself recommended the delay, after consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, due to the “unique target” the Metrorail system poses. Geller — who features prominent in CAP’s report last year on the Islamophobia network in the U.S. — said the delay “grows less timely and more absurd by the day.”
The American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) is representing Geller and claims on its website that “Sharia-adherent Islamists are waging a war against our Nation and its Judeo-Christian principles reflected in our Constitution.” Waging war on the non-existent Sharia threat seems to be the primary cause of the AFLC, as seen in this interview with the “Sharia Awareness Action Network”:
In their District Court filing to overturn WMATA’s delay, AFDI and the AFLC refer to “‘barbaric and uncivilized’ acts” by Muslims and accuses WMATA of being racist themselves:
[T]he WMATA apparently considers adherents to Islam to be violent and incapable of responding to critical, political speech in our country in a civilized manner. When the WMATA ran an advertisement critical of Israel, urging the United States to end its military aid to its long-time ally in the Middle East, there was no concern about violence and passenger safety. What message is the WMATA sending about Islam by restricting Plaintiffs’ core political speech? And what message will this court be sending if it affirms that position? Indeed, whether intentionally or not, the WMATA is essentially siding with the Muslim Brotherhood leader of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, who condemns speech critical of Islam.
Geller’s attempts to turn the tables come in the face of concerted interfaith opposition to AFDI’s ad. The ads have already gone up in San Fransisco and New York City, where they’ve been the target of constant defacement, being labeled as “racist” and “hate speech.”