Students combat anti-Muslim message in D.C. Metro ads

10.08.12news-trull-anti-muslim-ad-metro-editAfter anti-Muslim ads were posted in several D.C. Metro stations, two Georgetown students, Nabeel Zewail (SFS ’15) and Saaliha Khan (COL ’13), petitioned the D.C. Subway Commission to remove them. The ads read, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” Despite the fact that, as of now, over 1,850 people have signed the petition nationwide, the D.C Subway Commission has chosen to keep the ads posted. Zewail and Khan, along with other students, have turned to other means to oppose the advertisements.

The advertisements were paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a group which, according to its own website, “acts against the treason being committed by national, state, and local government officials, the mainstream media, and others in their capitulation to the global jihad and Islamic supremacism.”

Zewail highlighted his two current goals. “First,” he said, “we are continuing to engage with the D.C. Subway Commission so that they will understand that these ads are hateful and have no place in our Metro. And, second, we are trying to counter the AFDI’s message of hate with one of compassion. A group of students went to the various Metro stops where the ads were posted and distributed flyers for peace, and other groups in DC are raising funds to run ads that will counter this message of hate.”

Zewail remained optimistic about the success of this latest effort, but recognized that “we still have more work to do to ensure that more people in DC recognize the hate that these ads are espousing and that they have no place in our Metro.”

Khan and Zewail have received the full support of Georgetown’s Interfaith Council. Jordan Denari (SFS ’13), co-president of Interfaith Council, agrees that the best way to defy such a message of intolerance, fed by misinformation, is by going out and directly demonstrating the ads’ erroneous nature.

“We fully recognize the First Amendment rights of the AFDI to post these ads. We take no issue with that,” she said. “But we must go out there and provide a counter-narrative. We must show that Muslims are an important part of the community here.”

Denari stated the importance of standing up to the AFDI in particular. She pointed out that the AFDI, and its executive director, Pamela Geller, were among the largest opponents to the planned construction of an Islamic community center in downtown Manhattan in 2010. They termed it a “victory memorial” for Islam at Ground Zero.

Denari criticized the AFDI for its divisive fear mongering. “Fear is a money-making machine for these people,” she said.

Saaliha Khan added to this critique of the AFDI’s stance: “This kind of ‘us versus them clash of civilization’ mindset is detrimental to our American society and the global community at large as it perpetuates a false dichotomy between people, specifically in reference to Muslims v. the West, which in reality, is not an accurate reflection/account of what is happening.”

Khan, like Zewail, was pleased with the kind of “counter-narrative” which was displayed when students handed out flyers at D.C. Metro stations. “It did help change some people’s perceptions by making them re-think the underlying message. Our aim was and remains to try to spread tolerance, mutual respect, understanding, and love — in stark contrast to the ad, which is quite hateful, ignorant, and Islamophobic,” she said.

“We all, Muslims, and non-Muslims alike, ought to stand up for the rights of one another, speak up for each other, and promote unity, not division.”

7 Comments on “Students combat anti-Muslim message in D.C. Metro ads

  1. Not to nitpick, but there is no such this as the D.C. Subway Commission. I think they mean Metro Board of Directors. Otherwise, carry on!

  2. These repugnant signs are coming to the Portland, Or. Metro buses in about a month. Does anyone know of an effort to stop or demonstrate against them? I find what P.Geller is doing is horrendous, and ironically very much like what the Nazis did by whipping up peoples fear and hatred. I am hoping eventually the courts will see this IS HATE SPEECH which is against the law and not protected by the 1st Amendment.

  3. What’s “disgusting” is not these ads but the fact that their message is even controversial. The ads name the proper reason to support Israel, not because it is the Jewish state, not because it is “democratic”, not because of Christian fundamentalists’ insane ideas of rebuilding the Temple of Solomon and bringing about the Apocalypse, but because Israel represents the force of Western englightenment civilization and comparative support for freedom and capitalism, while the Arabs stand for mystical barbarism. They are savages, as are any people who take religion seriously and view it as their holy mission to bring about the enslavement of the world to a totalitarian ideology. This goal is not held by a fringe within the Arab world: the vast majority either stand for it, or are unwilling to stand against it. We can “tolerate” them and stop calling them savages when they stop behaving like savages; it is suicidal to do so before then, but I suppose the security of our lives and secular, capitalist civilization is irrelevant for those of the “turn the other cheek” mentality. That any Jews, especially, would support such a policy illustrates the madness resulting from putting religion over human life.

    And anyone who opposes these ads out of concern for reprisal from Muslims is the worst kind of coward there is. He may as well start paying the dhimmi tax and be done with it.

  4. In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

  5. I would like to point out that this is not against Muslims. This is against Islamic Jihad, a specific group that acts in the Gaza strip and Egypt by shooting rockets at Israeli civilians and even making attempts to cross the border into Israel and shooting at anything that moves when intercepted. Over the summer they killed a Palestinian man working on the border, simply because he was on the Israeli side of the border. That is barbaric and that is savage. This is not a call for all Muslims to stop practicing or against all Muslims in general. It is a call to support peace by ending those barbaric acts. Handing out peace flyers supports the cause of this board, so good job!

  6. Pingback: Fighting Hate Speech with Love « Morgan McDaniel

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