CAIR claims the anti-jihad advertisements, sponsored by political activist Pamela Geller, inspire “hate.” They are designed to “provoke, stigmatize and demonize” Muslims, CAIR told CNSNews.com.
One of the Geller ad reads: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."
CNSNews.com asked CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper to explain how the ad is hate speech. “Can you just elaborate more on how the ad is hate speech? It is directed against Jihad, right? So is that something you’re also against?”
“If you look at Pam Geller’s history, everything she’s done over her entire career is designed to incite, designed to provoke, designed to stigmatize Muslims and demonize Islam,” Hooper said. “And this is the same thing.”
“It’s not so much the reference to jihad--that’s a debatable point--but it’s the reference to savages,” he added. “When you paint anyone on another side of the issue as a savage, that’s just not acceptable.”
“Even those that use violence for radical Islamic extremism?” CNSNews.com asked.
“That’s her argument,” Hooper said. “We don’t accept her argument.”
In response to Geller’s ads, which are now posted in four locations in the D.C. metro system, CAIR will run three billboards featuring a Koran verse that states, “Show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant.”
Hooper said the translated meaning of the word ignorant in the verse is “willfully ignorant.”
Geller says her ad calls for a moral outcry against jihad, or “holy war.”
“The message is clear. Any war on innocent civilians is savage,” Geller told Israel National News. “The war on Israel is a war on innocent civilians.”
Geller said she originally planned for the anti-jihad campaign to run last year, in response to an anti-Israel campaign that was posted in the New York City subway system at that time.
“There was no controversy or opposition to those anti-Semitic ads,” Geller said. “Our ad campaign was hung up by legal battles. Anti-Jewish ads are okay; anti-jihad ads are ‘offensive.’”
‘Hate speech not acceptable in America’
Naeem Baig, vice president for public affairs of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) which is joining CAIR’s campaign, said “hate speech” is not acceptable in America.
“As Americans, we understand the importance of the right of free speech and for freedom of expression,” he said. “American Muslims value this right on behalf of every American citizen and we never shy away from ever defending this right. We also feel that this right to free speech should be seen as a great responsibility.”
“Freedom of expression and willful provocation will have different outcomes,” Baig said. “And such is the case of free speech and hate speech.”
“The right to freedom of expression should not be an opportunity to spread hate and pass insults on sacred religions and religious icons,” he added. “American society is mature enough to recognize that hate speech is not acceptable.”