Muni buses are once again riding the streets of San Francisco with advertisements critical of Islam. And while city leaders say the First Amendment protects the ads, they want it known they are staunchly opposed.
The ads feature incendiary quotes by Osama bin Laden, the alleged Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hassan, and other Muslims. The ads were purchased by Pamela Geller and the American Freedom Defense Initiative, who also put ads critical of Islam on Muni buses in 2012.
Supervisor David Chiu will introduce a resolution at Tuesday's board meeting, requesting that the proceeds from the ads be used to fund a study on the impact of post 9-11 hate and discrimination on Arab and Muslim communities.
‘While some courts have found these ads may have First Amendment privileges, that doesn't mean that as a city we can't condemn them with the strongest possible statement," said Chiu.
Chiu was joined by Supervisors Jane Kim, John Avalos, and Scott Wiener, District Attorney George Gascon and other government and comunity leaders who gathered on the steps of City Hall to denounce the ads.
“Just think in terms of the young kids, the young Arab and Muslim kids who have to ride these buses with this message on the outside." said Theresa Sparks, executive director of the city’s Human Rights Commission
"Or the Muni bus drivers, who have to drive these buses with this message on the outside. Just think of what it has to do to them, their self-esteem, their families.”
“Over the years, as (Geller’s) placed these ads we’ve heard from young people as well as adults who’ve seen these messages, who’ve said that it makes them uncomfortable to ride the buses, that it makes them worry about their safety, that it makes them think twice about how people are looking at them." said attorney Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in San Francisco
"It undermines the very fabric of multiculturalism that we are trying to build in San Francisco and the larger Bay Area.”
Chiu says he has support from seven supervisors for his resolution, which also encourages community leaders and residents to speak out against the ads.