A series of six controversial ads seeking to "tell the truth" about Islam and jihad are set to run on 100 New York City buses next week, arguing that distinctions between "moderate" and "extremist" Muslims are useless.
The ads, reportedly costing $100,000, are run by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which describes itself as a group acting against global jihad and "Islamic supremacism."
One of the ads refers to the recent beheading of American journalist James Foley at the hands of ISIS militants. The militant suspected of carrying out the execution, London-based rapper Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, is shown in side-by-side photos — one portraying him as a rapper, and one an image of the beheading video where he is standing next to Foley. "Yesterday's moderate is today's headline," the ad warns.
"The United States and other Western nations have paid insufficient attention to the fact that Muslim communities in the West have not made any concerted effort to expel supporters of jihad terror from their midst, and have done nothing at all to teach against the jihadist understanding of Islam, even though they ostensibly reject it," the group says on its website.
Al Jazeera reported on Monday that some Muslim groups are strongly speaking out against the ads, calling them "hateful and vitriolic."
"They absolutely have the right to put up this hateful message because of the First Amendment," said Hoda Elshishtawy, a national policy analyst at the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an organization that the Investigative Project on Terrorism says has long been opposed to U.S. counterterrorism efforts.
Elshishtawy continued, "It's disgusting the way they choose to wrongfully represent a religion. Obviously the group is just out there to promote their own hate and their own twisted view of how they view Islam and Muslims."
The MTA has in the past attempted to reject ads from the AFDI that referred to enemies of Israel as "savages," but founder Pamela Geller won a lawsuit that defended the group's First Amendment rights.
The ads, which are available on the AFDI website, also focus on Christian persecution in the Middle East, with one ad reading: "Christians are becoming extinct everywhere in the Middle East except Israel." It calls on the U.S. to stop sending international aid to Islamic countries that are involved in persecution of Christians.
The ads also portray Palestinian militant group Hamas, which was recently involved in a war with Israel, to be following the same type of Islamic extremism as ISIS.
"In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad," the ad reads.
Another photo shows the meeting between Adolf Hitler with Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, and states: "Islamic Jew-Hatred. It's in the Qur'an."
The group noted that it plans to roll out the ads in other cities and states across the U.S. as well.