(Washington, D.C., 10/17/2012) -- An anti-hate coalition of 127 organizations is asking all people of conscience to contact the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) and ask that it help mitigate the negative impact of anti-Muslim advertisements now on display in DC-area metro stations. The ads strongly suggest that Arab or Muslim opponents of Israel's policies are "savages." They are sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a designated hate-group led by Pamela Geller.
Last week, the coalition sent a letter to WMATA Board Chair Catherine Hudgins asking to meet and discuss simple steps to help mitigate the impact of Geller's hate speech. To date, the coalition has received no response from Hudgins or any other WMATA representative.
In its letter, the coalition requested that:
- WMATA work closely with organizations representing impacted Muslim and Arab communities during all phases of the response and follow up to the ads.
- WMATA take a similar approach to that of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) in response to these ads by placing disclaimers that show that the hate speech promulgated by such ads do not represent the view of WMATA.
- WMATA provide free space for counter ads, focused on promoting understanding and tolerance regarding the greater metropolitan area's various Muslim and Arab communities, and awareness of the harm caused by Islamophobia and anti-Arab hatred and discrimination.
Pamela Geller is recognized as being at the core of a group promoting intolerance of Muslims and Arabs in America. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that monitors the hate movement in the United States, calls her "the anti-Islam movement's most visible and flamboyant figurehead."
Federal Judge Rosemary Collyer, who ruled that the ads could be placed in DC-area metro stations, called the advertisement "hate speech."
The broad-based coalition supporting community over hate is led by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Jewish Voice for Peace -- DC Metro (JVPDC), and the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace (WIAMEP).
The coalition's letter, along with a full list of signatories, can be seen here.
The coalition also wrote to Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. (See the coalition letter to Mayor Gray here.)