Thirty-four elected officials including the New York City Council Progressive Caucus, Public Advocate Letitia James, and Council Member I. Daneek Miller, the lone Muslim member of the City Council, sent a Letter to Metropolitan Transportation Authority President Tom Prendergast (attached) calling for the removal of anti-Islamic advertisements which were recently placed and are currently displayed on MTA property. The three ads, which have been approved and paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, features headlines touting “Islamic Jew-Hatred”, slogans which seek to equate Muslim-American organizations to foreign terrorists and, previously, a caption reading “Yesterday’s moderate is today’s headline” while juxtaposing images of a young Muslim musician and an ISIS executioner standing over James Foley.
The officials, include Progressive Caucus co-Chairs (Antonio Reynoso and Donovan Richards), the Chair of the Council’s Jewish Caucus (Mark Levine), and the co-chairs of the Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus (Rosie Mendez and Andy King), note that the “ads sow hate, create discord, and promote violence against Muslims and those who appear to be Muslim”. Citing the MTA’s viewpoint-neutral advertisement policies, the officials claim that “the MTA is well within its legal authority to remove the ads in part, and reject additional advertisements.” Full Release
WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY:
“We as a City Council, while we recognizing first amendment rights, absolutely demand zero tolerance when it comes to these provocative advertisements. It is appalling that these messages have been allowed and continue to remain posted.” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “As the lone Muslim member of the Council, I find the ads particularly offensive and not a true representation of the Muslim community, which continues to be a great contributor to our City. We hope that the MTA will meet this challenge and remove these ads, which only seek to incite and provoke, and are not in the best interests of our great City.”
“A platform as visible as the MTA is no place to propel hate speech. The Progressive Caucus condemns AFDI’s islamophobic ads that perpetuate dangerous stereotypes and threaten New Yorkers,” said Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Donovan Richards and Antonio Reynoso. “Residents, commuters and tourists should experience a positive and inclusive environment, not the hostile one that these ads provoke.”
“No religion or faith should ever be subject to attack ads, and I’m appalled by this latest attempt to divide our city,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
“Hiding behind the veil of the first amendment to spew hate is pure cowardice,” remarked Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of the Jewish Caucus. “It’s shocking and upsetting that the MTA’s policies force them to allow for such an incendiary anti-Muslim ad on our busses and in our subway stations. These types of propaganda only divide us and ratchet up already increasing animosity. The ads must come down.”
“As one of the most diverse cities in the country and the world, it is incredibly important that we do not spread or promote hatred in any form. The slanderous and bigoted ads that have been plastered on subway stations and on buses have no place in our city,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “I will continue to speak out against racism and religious discrimination in all its forms.”
IN THE NEWS
NY Observer: NYC Rallies Against $100K Anti-Islam Ad Campaign
Queens Chronicle: James, Council call MTA ads anti-Muslim
New York Immigration Coalition: Response to the Anti-Islamic MTA Ads