Bus ads many believe are anti-Muslim have roared into San Francisco. The campaign, sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), includes one running on 10 of the city's Muni buses with an image of Osama bin Laden, the burning twin towers and the tagline, “That’s his jihad. What’s yours?”
The ads supposedly quote from extremists. One attributes a statement from the militant group Hamas, which reads: "Killing Jews is worship that brings us closer to Allah."
AFDI had beat back an attempt by New York City’s transit authority to block a similar campaign in that city’s subway system. Comparable ads have run in Chicago and Washington, D.C.
San Francisco officials have condemned the campaign, but they have allowed them to run. The $5,000 the group paid to Muni will go to the Human Rights Commission to study discrimination against the Islamic community, according to the city.
"These offensive ads serve no purpose than to denigrate our city's Arab and Muslim communities," District Attorney George Gascon told local ABC News on Monday. The city has also created a campaign of its own to counter the ads.
Pamela Geller, co-founder of AFDI, said the ads are in response to a campaign sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations in January that promoted the word “jihad” as a nonviolent term. "I don't believe [our] ads in any way say that all Muslims support jihad, but there have been over 20,500 deadly Islamic attacks since 9/11. That's a problem, and we need to talk about it," she said.
The ads will run on 10 of Muni’s 800 buses for one month.