Published September 24, 2012
NEW YORK – Provocative advertisements equating Muslim radicals with savages appeared in New York City subways on Monday, drawing immediate criticism from some riders.
"It's a terrible idea," said Colby Richardson at a subway station in midtown Manhattan. "It's going to spark controversy obviously when you deem one side savages and the other side civilized."
Said another rider, Cameron McCabe: "I think it's unfortunate that someone would want to put that up." But, she added, "I think it's their right to do so."
The ads -- reading, "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad." -- went up in 10 stations across Manhattan after a court victory by a conservative commentator who once headed a campaign against an Islamic center near the site of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York initially refused to run blogger Pamela Geller's ad, saying it was "demeaning." But a federal judge ruled in July that it is protected speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Geller, executive director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative and publisher of a blog called Atlas Shrugs, has said she's not concerned that her ad could spark protests like the ones against the depiction of Muslims in the video "Innocence of Muslims." Violence linked to the movie has left dozens in seven countries dead, including the American ambassador to Libya.
The ad was plastered on San Francisco city buses in recent weeks, prompting some people to deface the ads and remove some of the words, including "Jihad," or holy war. There were no immediate reports of similar mischief in New York on Monday.
A New York Police Department spokesman said Monday that the department has no plans to beef up security in response to the campaign.
Geller said the subway ads cost about $6,000. The MTA said they will be up for a month.