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Anti-Muslim groups' ad in NYC subway calls jihad 'savage.' Is now a good time?

With the Muslim world still roiled by the US-made, anti-Muslim video on YouTube, the ad citing 'war between civilized man and the savage' will appear Monday at 10 NYC subway stations.

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Geller says the ads are running in response to what she terms anti-Israel ads that started running in multiple cities in 2010. In San Franciso the ads called for peace and justice in the Middle East and the end of US military aid to Israel. They were paid for by a non-profit Christian group, Friends of Sabeel – North America, the Jewish Voice for Peace, and American Muslims for Palestine.

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“We intend to raise money in every city where the ads ran,” says Geller, naming Los Angeles, Miami, Denver, Philadelphia, and Chicago. “As soon as we raise the money, the ads will run,” she says.

The ads appeared in the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (“Muni”) system on 10 buses in August. But Muni donated the proceeds from the ad buy to the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and placed its own ad on the buses that stated it did not support the message.

“The recent ad has no value in facilitating constructive dialogue or advancing the cause of peace and justice,” said Tom Nolan, chairman of the board of directors, and Ed Reiskin, director of transportation for Muni, in a statement in August.

Groups supporting Geller’s ads hailed the New York court decision. “I am very pleased to report that for once the freedom of speech and the truth have triumphed over political correctness and submission to the Islamic supremacist agenda,” wrote Jihad Watch.org on its website after the decision. “All kudos go to Pamela Geller, who originated this ad.”

However, the ads place many groups in a bind since they support free speech but dislike the message.

“The advertisements are patently offensive, but more offensive would be their censorship because that would violate the guarantee of free expression of all ideas regardless of how distasteful they are,” says Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Mainstream Jewish groups also support the right to run the ad but don’t appreciate the message.

“We agree with the court’s decision that this is protected speech and this organization has the right to run such speech even if we strongly disagree with the sentiment and what they are expressing,” says Ron Meier, director of the New York region of the Anti-Defamation League. “In our view being pro-Israel does not mean being anti-Muslim.”

Even Islamic civil rights groups in the US support the right for the ads to run. “The First Amendment grants everybody rights, including to be a racist and bigot like Pamela Geller,” says Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington.

Mr. Hooper says there are ramifications such as a rise in attacks on Muslims or mosques as a result of the ads. “The ordinary Muslim has to deal with the consequences of her (Geller’s) promotion of hatred and bigotry,” he says.

Geller’s reply to CAIR: she calls it a backer of the Palestinian group Hamas, which is the governing party in Gaza and is listed by the State Department as a terror organization.

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