By Nathan Lean, special to the San Francisco Examiner
If not careful, you may be met eye to eye with the world's most notorious terrorist, Osama bin Laden, while waiting for one of San Francisco's Muni buses. The Muslim monster was not resurrected, but his face, along with an ominous quote of violence, is part of a citywide ad campaign taking aim at the term "jihad."
Led by bloggers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the provocative placards suggest collective guilt on the part of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims for acts of terrorism, and the ads are the latest manifestation of the duo's desire to ignite a culture war along faith lines.
In recent months, Geller and Spencer have hung similarly unnecessary signage in metro stations across the country. In New York City, ferocious verses from the Quran were plopped alongside gory images of the twin towers crumbling into a sea of ash. The pair equated Muslims with "savages" and enemies of Israel in an ad campaign that hit San Francisco buses and Washington, D.C., transit stops last fall. This newest batch of in-your-face activism taunts a positive campaign to reclaim the term "jihad" from extremists on both sides whose narrow interpretations of the concept fuel misunderstanding and hatred. (Full article)
Nathan Lean is the editor-in-chief of Aslan Media and the author of three books, including the award-winning "The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims." He lives in Washington, D.C.