Opponents of anti-Jihad Metro ads seeking to counter message - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Opponents of anti-Jihad Metro ads seeking to counter message

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WASHINGTON -

Metro is stuck in the middle of a controversy over politically charged advertisements now appearing a several Metro stations. Critics of the ads are asking for equal time.

The poster in question is behind glass on the platform at the U Street, Takoma Park, Georgia Avenue - Petworth and Glenmont stations.

"It definitely caught my eye," says Metro rider Kara Stone. "I know nothing about it. But I definitely read enough to try to learn about it."

The message reads: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."

"It's just a lot to take in I guess I should say," added Angelique Harris, also riding Metro Tuesday. "It's very controversial."

The poster's creator says it's all a big misunderstanding.

"My message is a message of love," says Pamela Geller. "I'm speaking out against hate."

Geller is the New York woman who paid for the ads and others like them in San Francisco and New York City.

"Our message is that any war on innocent civilians is savagery," Geller says. "9/11 was savagery. 7/7 in London. March 11th in Madrid."

But some Muslim-Americans see the message as an attack on Islam.

"It's frustrating whenever somebody uses the freedom of speech that's guaranteed by the Constitution to promote hatred and bigotry as these ads do," says Ibrahim Hooper with CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations).

He says he and other interfaith and civil rights groups have reached out to Metro.

"To ask the transit authority to respond in a positive way," Hooper tells us. "Not by censoring, but by working with the Arab-American and Muslim community promoting mutual understanding, perhaps through another ad campaign that would counter the hate message in this campaign."

Metro officials say they don't give away ad space anywhere in the system. But if CAIR or any other group wants to counter the message with one of their own, they are free to do it, but they have to pay for the ad.

Geller also asked aloud during a phone conversation with FOX 5 News: "Where in my message does it say 'Muslim?"'

But CAIR's Hooper says it's certainly implied.

"If she wants to spew hatred and bigotry, she's free to do so in America," says Hooper. "But it's up to the rest of society, the mainstream practitioners of all faiths to come together, to repudiate hatred and extremism and promote mutual understanding instead."

The posters did not go public without a fight. Metro wanted to hold off for a few weeks, but a judge ruled the ads had to go up now.

Metro says it was concerned about public safety and adding fuel to the fires burning recently in the Middle East.

But so far, reaction here has been muted.


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