SIOA: NYC's MTA Drops Restrictions on Free Speech, Allows Bus Ads Linking 9/11 to Ground Zero Mosque
NEW YORK, Aug. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority on Monday dropped its restrictions on the free speech of the human rights organization American Freedom Defense Initiative (FDI) and Stop Islamization of America (SIOA). MTA officials reversed an earlier decision not to allow FDI bus ads that pointed out the link between the September 11, 2001 jihad terror attacks and the proposed Islamic supremacist mega-mosque at Ground Zero.
FDI Executive Director Pamela Geller announced: "The MTA has recognized the justice of our position in our lawsuit, and has agreed to run our ad as originally submitted. This is a great victory for freedom of speech, and we are grateful to our attorneys David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise for mounting such an effective defense against politically correct censorship."
Responding to charges that the ad is offensive, Geller said: "What's more insulting and offensive -- that image of truth, or a 15 story mega-mosque looking down on the sacred ground of Ground Zero?"
The MTA reversal came after FDI filed a lawsuit on Friday, August 6, against the city of New York for infringement of the freedom of speech, after the MTA refused to run FDI's "Preservation of Ground Zero" bus campaign.
The MTA claimed that it refused the campaign because it contained a "9/11 image," specifically "a plane," and associated the Islamic supremacist mega-mosque slated to be built at Ground Zero with the September 11, 2001 jihad terror attacks – an association that the mosque organizers have themselves made many times.
The full text of FDI's complaint is here.
In July, FDI Executive Director Pamela Geller signed a contract with CBS Outdoor to run a "Preservation of Ground Zero" bus ad campaign. FDI paid for the campaign in full.
The ad FDI submitted depicted one of the planes about to crash into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 on one side, with the planned mega-mosque (which recalls the World Trade Center in its design) on the other. The inscription was "Why There?"
CBS Outdoor relayed that the MTA had refused the ad. A CBS Outdoor representative explained that "images of 9/11" were not allowed. He told Geller that the ad could not show an airplane about to crash into one of the Twin Towers; a later version of the ad was also rejected for showing smoke and fire behind the Towers.
A third version of the ad with the flames and smoke removed and the Twin Towers depicted in pristine condition was also rejected, as a plane was shown flying by some distance away.
Geller's repeated requests for a copy of the MTA's guidelines for bus advertising went unanswered.
CBS Outdoor's representative also told Geller that the MTA didn't want to "associate the new building" – that is, the Islamic supremacist Ground Zero mega-mosque – "with Ground Zero." He told Geller: "The people behind the new building" – again, the Ground Zero mega-mosque – "say it has nothing to do with Ground Zero."
However, Daisy Khan, wife of the Ground Zero mosque imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, has said: "I think the building came to us, which goes to show that there is a symbolism there, and that there's a divine hand in it. That it's so close to the tragedy, that its close proximity is very symbolic for the fact that we really want to reverse what happened on 9/11."
Thus mosque organizers themselves have linked the building to 9/11, yet the MTA forbade FDI to make the same link.
Geller asked: "What do they (the Ground Zero mosque Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan) have to do with running my ad? They dictate what can and cannot run? I object to this censorship, which is effectively editing the viewpoint I am attempting to express in my message."
Yerushalmi and Muise filed suit on behalf of FDI, Geller, and FDI Associate Director Robert Spencer. The complaint alleged violation of FDI's, Geller's and Spencer's free speech rights. It charged that the MTA had decided to accept the claim of the pro-Sharia Ground Zero Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, that their mega-mosque has nothing to do with marking the jihadist "victory" of September 11, 2001. In other words, the MTA was putting itself in the position of deciding which viewpoints were politically correct enough to appear on its buses.
On Monday, Yerushalmi hailed the MTA's reversal: "This is a victory not just as a defense of the First Amendment, but also a victory against the Bloomberg-style bullying meant to shut down full-throated public debate over the connection between the existential jihad threat this country faces and Islamic terrorists who engage in both violent and stealth jihad to impose Sharia on the infidel."
FDI/SIOA is one of America's foremost organizations defending human rights, religious liberty, and the freedom of speech against Islamic supremacist intimidation and attempts to bring elements of Sharia to the United States.
View images of the rejected ads here.
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