Washington will become the next American city to display a notorious anti-Jihad public advert, after a district judge declined a local Metro injunction asking for it to be delayed.
Washington Metro argued that the posters, which were scheduled to be displayed on trains throughout the city from late September, should be delayed indefinitely in the wake of the fallout from the Innocence of Muslims online film, that provoked riots and demonstrations throughout the Islamic world.
It requested that the earliest date the posters should be put up, be moved to November 1, providing there is no “verifiable” terrorist threat. Instead Judge Rosemary Collyer ordered the ads to be displayed no later than 5 p.m. on Monday.
“It’s a victory for everyone,” said Robert Muise, the attorney for the advertiser. “It’s a victory for all freedom-loving Americans.”
The posters were devised by the controversial American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) – which was behind the campaign against an Islamic community center being built within two blocks of the destroyed World Trade Center. The posters have already appeared in New York and San Fransisco.
“In Any War Between the Civilized Man and the Savage, Support the Civilized Man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad,” reads the text of the advert.
Judge Collyer openly described the posters as “hate speech”, but said the message was protected under the First Amendment as “core political speech” and did not accept the Metro’s argument that it incited violence and constitutes “a gamble with public safety”.
AFDI, whose poster has been condemned by over 200 public organizations, had to fight a similar legal battle in New York, again winning the right to place the ads.
Different strategies have emerged from those who find the campaign objectionable.
In San Francisco SMFTA, the local transport authority, ran an ad of its own on every bus where the anti-Jihad was displayed, saying “SFMTA policy prohibits discrimination based on national origin, religion, and other characteristics and condemns any statements that describe any group as ‘savages.'”
Many of the posters in have been defaced, or graffitied with counter messages.
Another public advocacy group, Rabbis for Human Rights, have even paid for an alternative poster campaign to run at the same time. “In the choice between love and hate, choose love. Help stop bigotry against our Muslim neighbors,” reads their ad.
But despite the outcry, Pamela Geller, the AFDI co-founder has not voiced any regrets about the poster.
“There’s nothing either hateful or false about my ad.”