Statements Against NYC Hateful Ads

The American Freedom Defense Initiative posted controversial ads on NYC subway platforms this week.  The subway ads say, "In Any War Between the Civilized Man and the Savage, Support the Civilized Man." Below that are the words: "Support Israel. Defeat Jihad," with a Star of David on either side of the text.

These ads promote hate and division.  Tanenbaum has collected some of the various statements that condemn this irresponsible exercise of free speech:

 

Statement by Alan S. Jaffe, President and Michael S. Miller, Exec. VP & CEO
Jewish Community Relations Council of New York

“While agreeing with U.S. District Court’s ruling that the placement of the AFDI ad in the New York Subway system is protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution, nonetheless, we find the ad’s content to be decidedly prejudiced and dangerously inflammatory. The broad mainstream of the New York Jewish community does not equate its unwavering support for Israel with intolerance for Muslims or their faith. We will continue our work with leaders of the Muslim and other faith and ethnic communities within the demographic diversity of New York to strengthen the communal collective and improve the quality of life for all.”

 

Joint statement by OIC Secretary General, Arab League Secretary General, African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security and the European Union High Representative for Foreign and Security policy

Joint statement by OIC Secretary General, Arab League Secretary General, African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security and the European Union High Representative for Foreign and Security policy

As representatives of four regional organizations, we want to send a message today of peace and tolerance.

We share a profound respect for all religions. We are united in our belief in the fundamental importance of religious freedom and tolerance. We condemn any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to hostility and violence. While fully recognizing freedom of expression, we believe in the importance of respecting all prophets, regardless of which religion they belong to.

The anguish of Muslims at the production of the film insulting Islam, posting of its trailer on the internet and other similar acts, is shared by all individuals and communities who refuse to allow religion to be used to fuel provocation, confrontation and extremism.

We condemn any message of hatred and intolerance.

We know that the behaviour of small groups of people does not speak for the larger communities from which they hail; but the damage they can inflict can be considerable. We must ensure that the recent events do not undermine the relationships of trust and respect we have built up over so many years among our peoples, communities and states. The international community cannot be held hostage to the acts of extremists on either side.

We condemn the recent attacks on diplomatic missions resulting in tragic loss of lives. Violence can have no place in our societies and offensive speech cannot be met with violent acts as it will only create a spiral of brutality from which we will all suffer. Reason rather than rage must prevail. So today we call for an end to violence wherever it has appeared. We call for peace and restraint.

We reiterate our strong commitment to take further measures and to work for an international consensus on tolerance and full respect of religion, including on the basis of UN Human Rights Council resolution 16/18. We further call on all leaders, whether they be political, secular or religious, to promote dialogue and mutual understanding. And we will continue our efforts to show that what joins us together across regions and religions is far greater than what separates us.

The only answer to the darkness of intolerance and ignorance is the light of mutual respect, tolerance and dialogue.

 

The Interfaith Center of New York
Press Release

On Tuesday morning (September 25) at 9:00 am, a coalition of New York community and faith based organizations will gather on the steps of City Hall to denounce anti-Muslim hate advertisements posted on New York City subway platforms (image below). The ads are harmfully provocative and inherently divisive.

In a letter to Mayor Bloomberg on September 10, 2012 the coalition urged the Mayor to make a public statement regarding the ads, asking him to "stand up to the politics of fear and show the millions of New Yorkers and millions of visitors to this great City that we do not endorse hate speech."

The coalition also sent a letter to MTA Executive Officer Joseph Lohta asking him to introduce measures to mitigate the impact of the hate ads and to discourage hate groups from using MTA advertisements in the future.

Rev. Chloe Breyer, Executive Director of The Interfaith Center of New York, observed: "Having worked in partnership with Muslim and other faith leaders across New York City for over a decade, we deplore these ads. While legal, the ignorance, prejudice, and disrespect the ads display betray the American ideal of E Pluribus Unum ‘ Out of Many, One’ and dishonor the efforts of New Yorkers who, after 9/11, overcame their religious differences and worked together to rebuild our great city."

"As people from many faith traditions – Christian, Jew, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu and Humanist – we stand against hate and bigotry in all forms," said Valarie Kaur, Director of Groundswell at Auburn Seminary. "These ads fuel anti-Muslim sentiment that aims to divide us, but we will always come together, louder and stronger, for respect and dignity."

 

Statement by Joyce Dubensky
CEO of Tanenbaum

New York, New York, September 21, 2012 – Today is the International Day of Peace.  It should be a day of hope and optimism.  But it is not.

Daily violence reminds us that peace is often elusive, hard to achieve, and too often sabotaged by small groups with disproportionate impact. So for me, the International Day of Peace is not a day of hope.

Rather, it is a reminder to imagine what is possible and a call to work harder to defeat the forces of religious prejudice, division and death. And they are all around us. In only the past few weeks, we have repeatedly witnessed divisive, violent, and even deadly conflicts over our differences and different ways of believing. And we know there is more to come.

Just last month, we were shocked when six Sikhs were murdered as they attended a religious service in Wisconsin.  While the motive for the attack will never be definitively known because the shooter took his own life, we do know that he associated with white-supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.  It is likely that the killer took aim out of hate. What we do not know is whether he truly intended to target Sikhs or whether he shared a common misperception that Sikhs are Muslims and was acting out of anti-Muslim hatred.  For the families of the dead, it doesn’t matter. A man with a gun hated.  And he destroyed families forever.

It was less than two weeks after the Wisconsin attack that the offices of the Family Research Council were targeted by a gunman.  When approached by a security guard, the gunman reportedly announced, “I don’t like your politics,” and then shot the man.  Fortunately, the victim survived.  The Family Research Council’s political stances are informed by particular, strongly held Christian beliefs.  And the violent attack targeted those beliefs. Here again, a violent attack based on religious prejudice.

Last week, it was an anti-Islamic film’s impact that overtook the news. Created in the U.S. by an Egyptian Coptic Christian who claimed to be an Israeli Jew, the film was used to spew hatred at every turn.  Trans-lated into Arabic and promoted by individuals who seek to demean Islam, the film inflamed by depicting the prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and homosexual.  We know the division and violence that quickly ensued.  While a coordinated attack was executed on a U.S. Consulate in Libya which ended the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Jews were blamed for creating and/or funding the film, feeding historic angers and escalating anti-Semitism.  Islamic extremists advocated for retaliation against America for the blasphemy.  Demonstrations against the film sprung up in Muslim-majority countries across the Middle East and beyond.  Though some involved sought to peacefully protest, violence made the news, with the destruction of property and, more disturbingly, more deaths and devastated families.

I wish that were all, but it is not.  We have a glimpse of a future where ads are being placed on New York City subway platforms that explicitly promote hatred toward Arabs and Muslims while surreptitiously seeking to drive a wedge between two religious groups that have suffered bigotry in the U.S. – Muslims and Jews.  Next week, the American Freedom Defense Initiative is slated to put up advertisements that read, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.”  It concludes with two Stars of David framing the words, “Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

In each of these instances, religious differences are being used to inflame.  The result: a world where the faithful of every religion are at risk of being targeted, harmed, and maybe killed.

On this day dedicated to peace, I believe we have to acknowledge the realities around us.  But I also believe that we can use this day to imagine what is possible and then take action to realize it.  Each of us can take personal responsibility for overcoming divisive voices – by living lives marked by respect, by being a vocal ally of those targeted, and by joining a global movement that says “Enough” to the hate.

IMAGINE…a more peaceful world that respects difference.  We are committed to making that vision a reality.