Starting next week, 10 New York subway stations are set to display ads reading, "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man." The ads then call on readers to "Support Israel. Defeat Jihad," the New York Times reports. Transportation officials tried to stop the ads from appearing, but a federal court ruled in the ads' favor in July, citing First Amendment rights. Now, at a volatile time in US-Muslim relations, "our hands are tied," says an MTA rep.
The MTA appealed the court's decision. But last month, the judge said the authority had two more weeks to change its ad policy—which had initially rejected the ads as "demeaning"—or to ask an appellate court to delay the ads. The MTA hasn't tried either option, though it may change its policy at a meeting next week, the rep says. In Washington, by contrast, the ads were deferred on "public safety" concerns, "given current world events." But the court order prevents New York from taking a similar stance. Given that New York transportation is already "a prime target for terrorists ... where better to place provocative ads insulting Muslim jihadists than New York City subway stops, right?" asks the Village Voice. A rep for the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which is behind the ads, scoffs: “I will never cower before violent intimidation, and stop telling the truth because doing so is dangerous. Freedom must be vigorously defended.”