(SAN FRANCISCO 3/21/13) — On Tuesday, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution condemning the content of Islamophobic advertisements placed on San Francisco buses.
Board President David Chiu sponsored the resolution, introduced at last Tuesday's meeting. The resolution is the first of its kind in the nation, sending a clear message that San Francisco's elected leaders stand against hate and Islamophobia.
The group underwriting the ads, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), has sued several U.S. cities for the First Amendment right to place the ads. The group's founder, Pamela Geller, has been designated an anti-Muslim hate extremist by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In August of 2012, San Franciscans were outraged over AFDI advertisements on MUNI that referred to Arabs and Muslims as “savages.” These are the group's third such ads in San Francisco in the last nine months.
During the same month in which this first round of advertisements circulated on MUNI buses, Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, and South Asian communities experienced 10 high profile incidents of hate violence across the country including arson, vandalisms, and attacks targeting individuals.
The new advertisements are even more offensive than those placed before because they assert that all Muslims are defined by extremism and violence. The ads also baselessly target Arab and Muslim San Franciscans who make invaluable contributions to the city's life and culture.
Board President David Chiu said: “As a former civil rights attorney, I'm proud to stand with our Arab and Muslim American families to send a united message that San Francisco embraces diversity and tolerance, not hate and bigotry.”
“San Francisco leaders have responded to these hateful advertisements: our city respects free speech, but stands with our Arab and Muslim communities in condemning Islamophobia and racist speech,” said Nasrina Bargzie, Staff Attorney at Asian Law Caucus.
“Our city officials have truly shown leadership in standing up to bigotry,” said Zahra Billoo, CAIR-SFBA Executive Director. “Today, we are sending a strong message to the world about what it means for a society to commit to inclusiveness and equality.”
In response, and at the request of 75 organizations and 35 leaders who spoke out following the first round of ads in August, the resolution calls for the proceeds from the offensive advertisements to fund a city-wide study on the impact of discrimination on Arab and Muslim communities.
CAIR-SFBA is an office of CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
The Asian Law Caucus was founded in 1972 as the nation's first legal and civil rights Asian American organization. Recognizing that social, economic, political and racial inequalities continue to exist in the United States, ALC is committed to the pursuit of equality and justice for all sectors of our society, with a specific focus directed toward addressing the needs of low-income, immigrant and underserved Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The Asian Law Caucus is a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice.
CONTACT: CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo, 626.252.0885, email@example.com; Asian Law Caucus Staff Attorney Nasrina Bargzie, 415.848.7733, firstname.lastname@example.org