New York City Activists: ‘Anti-Muslim Ads Could Threaten Lives’

By Jamilah King Sep 26, 2014

In an op-ed for the New York Daily News, Rajdeep Singh, the director of law and policy at the Sikh Coalition, writes that Pamela Geller’s latest round of anti-Muslim subway ads aren’t just in bad taste. They’re could become deadly:

The First Amendment protects Geller’s right to be obnoxious, but she should be shamed for trying to combat anti-American extremists by publicly stereotyping entire groups of people and creating a climate of fear that could endanger the lives of innocent people.

There are fringe extremist groups in many religious communities throughout the world. ISIS, Al Qaeda and others are real threats to Americans. But they constitute a tiny fraction of the total population — which, in the case of Muslims, totals up to 1 million in New York City and more than 1 billion globally.

It’s also a point that educator and co-founder of MuslimARC Margari Hill drove home in an interview with Colorlines recently:

There’s also this kind of urgency as we’re dealing with Islamophobia. In New York, you have those [racist subway] ads [that imply] that Boko Haram is Al Qaeda, Hamas is Al Qaeda and CAIR is Al Qaeda. I know people who work for CAIR, and to be vilified as Al Qaeda is really horrible. You have elected officials calling for us to be interned. Our identities and status as Muslims in America is still precarious. I feel that being a vulnerable minority, it’s very important that Muslim-Americans build solidarity and alliances with other communities. In order to do that we have to tackle  racism in our own faith community, including racism against Latinos, blacks and Asians."

As Singh writes at the Daily News, "By pandering to the lowest common denominator, Geller is failing to acknowledge the devout Muslims who are working full-time to combat extremism and promote secular, pluralistic democracies in Muslim-majority countries." Read more.