AFDI's new anti-Islam ad (Image via

AFDI’s new anti-Islam ad (Image via

Remember that subway poster that compared Muslims to savages and called for supporting Israel in order to “defeat Jihad”? The group behind that sloganeering, the American Defense Freedom Initiative (AFDI), is back with a second, even more inflammatory ad that the MTA is explicitly disavowing.

The new ad, which was published in a New York Times article, features a quote from the Quran, “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers,” next to an image of the Twin Towers engulfed in flames.

AFDI’s earlier ad (Image via

Once again, the ad ties Islam and the teachings of the Quran directly to terrorist activity. Unlike the first ad, however, the new one features a hefty disclaimer from the city’s MTA, written on the bottom quarter of the image: “The display of this advertisement does not imply MTA’s endorsement of any views expressed.”

The added text is an important step, but it’s hard not to view the advertisements as hate speech. Yet AFDI actually won a federal court case in July, defending its campaigns as protected under free speech. Last September, the MTA changed its advertising policy in an attempt to defend against projects like the AFDI’s, banning ads that “would imminently incite or provoke violence or other immediate breach of the peace.” They have a point — an activist was arrested for spray-painting the earlier AFDI advertisements.

The group’s new ad buy amounts to more than $10,000 worth of space, reports the Observer, and the Times adds that they will be displayed next to clocks on the ceilings of subway stations, so they’ll be much harder to reach for would-be vandals. Though the disclaimer prevents some misinterpretation of the ad, it’s clear that the MTA’s new rules haven’t done anything to prevent this latest round.

One way that the new ads could be balanced out, however, is with even more advertising. AFDI’s earlier push was met with an ad by Rabbis for Human Rights pushing for mutual respect between human beings: “In the choice between love and hate, choose love.” That’s something we can all get behind.

The Latest

Required Reading

This week, Godard’s anti-imperialism, in defense of “bad” curating, an inexplicable statue, criminalizing culture wars, and more.

Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...

85 replies on “A New, Even More Graphic Anti-Islamic Subway Ad”

  1. The posters seem to speak of an objective reality that all intellegent people should be able to agree on. If calling muslim terrorists “savages” is racist then color me racist (or cut my head off).

      1. Just the last part; but if anyone remembers the final moments of Daniel Pearl you know the savages are not kidding.

          1. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is at Gitmo, and one of the savages who made a video of himself cutting off Daniel Pearl’s head, so take your Gitmo @#$% and suck it.

          2. That’s a very selective view of Gitmo and it’s funny that Pearl’s wife and father are more forgiving and rational about their husband/son’s murder than you are, and you’re obviously full of hate.

          3. Please explain to me how my feelings about someone’s head being cut off for a video is somehow less than rational? And it’s my view about Gitmo that is “selective”, huh? Gitmo was your off subject, irrelevent rabbit trail, so here is my bit from todays news: a Saudi Arabian imam, who is a very influential cleric in jihadist circles, has issued a fatwa (religious edict) that essentially allows all jihadists fighting in Syria to rape women.
            Muhammed al-Arifi, a Wahhabi religious cleric, officially calls this act an “intercourse marriage” that can last only a few hours – “in order to give each fighter a turn” — and restricts the men to Syrian females at least 14 years old, widowed or divorced.

            There is so much to choose from; murder, rape, execution of homosexuals, chopping off body parts of criminals, forcing women into abject misery, destruction of cultural artifacts,(it’s really not fair to pick just one thing) so forgive me for being selective.


          4. The same could be said about any religion, such as the persecution of LGBT people in Uganda under the influence of Christian groups and preachers: the culturally segregated buses in Israel:… the list goes on. I just don’t think you could generalize. Islam is greater than a few incidents and stereotyping them doesn’t help.

          5. No, it can’t be said about “any” religion. How many Episcopalian ‘Honor Killings’ have been in the news this past year? How about those Menonite ‘Terror Bombings”? What other religions prohibit women from being educated, working, driving, or leaving their own home without an attendant male relative? Are they executing Gays in Uganda?

            Enough of this bizarre moral relativism. Where would you rather buy a condo; Tulsa, Tel Aviv, or Tehran?

          6. Then don’t lump all the Muslim groups into one. A Sunni fundamentalist is not a Alawite, is not a Shi’ite, etc. And Tehran has a rather excellent contemporary art museum, btw, so it would either be Tehran or Tel Aviv.

          7. Unless they renounce Sharia, and the world wide Caliphate they are all the same. And isn’t it an Alawite in Damascus that we are afraid is going to use chemical weapons?

            FYI Tulsa has art museums and galleries as well; and great BBQ.

          8. The worldwide Caliphate thing is only the extremists. And it would only be over one group (it would be like being afraid that the Catholic Pope would control all Christians, hell he barely controls Catholics nowadays). Don’t underestimate the ability of sects to mistrust one another and create their own demise … 😉

          9. So why is it that a couple of posters asking for support against Jihadists, and extremists (posted in a city where 3,000 people were killed by such) is considered an insult, and defamatory to all Muslims? And the rest of your comment….It’s so far off base it doesn’t even rise to the level of being wrong.

          10. One possibility, is that it implies that to stand against Jihadists is to support Israel. Considering Israels’ own bloody involvement in the middle east it’s quite hypocritical.

            Of course, the first poster mentioned in the article just gets to the meat of the matter with pure hatred.

          11. Because, as I’ve explained earlier (probably after you were ravaged by intellect), is that the first poster, asks for support for Israel. It’s just Zionist garbage.

            And the second, equates the violence depicted with an out of context excerpt from the Koran. As if to say, that it’s somehow religiously motivated/justified.

            It’s just pure hate. I know those posters speak to you, because they speak your language. You’ve confirmed my point over and over, and yet you seem to be blind to your own racism and hate. And yes, those posters are defamatory.

            Kind of like that ‘art’ that was displayed years ago in NYC, of Christ made out of excrement. Funded by taxes no less.

            However you sugar coat it, it’s still hate. You can make all the justifications you want, but at the end of the day, look in the mirror and ask yourself, what kind of a person has to justify hate?

          12. “Are they executing Gays in Uganda?”

            Executing? No… though their government did try to do just that. Instead they get life in prison. Is there murder of people who are gay in Uganda? You betcha.

          13. If posters went up at NYC subway stations decrying Uganda’s policy against homosexuals, would you consider that “hate speech”?

        1. Yeah, nevermind that Islam is the second largest religion in the world and only a tiny tiny tiny number of Muslims are the sort of radicals that would agree with something like that and an even fewer number would actually do something like that themselves, and an even smaller number than that actually killed Daniel Pearl.

          1. If there are a billion Muslims and one percent are Jihadist/terrorists, then that’s one million terrorists. But even mentioning the problem of the one percent is somehow hate speech. And what makes you think that the posters were not put up by Muslims? You know they were not, because the majority of Muslims support the Jihadist’s goals, either tacitly, verbally, or financially.

          2. You’re the one mentioning the one percent. Den never did. And now this mythical one percent is suddenly the majority? You’re out of your gourd.

    1. Really? I don’t agree on supporting Israel.

      Also, if by “intelligent people” you mean haters, then yeah. You’re not a racist, just a hater. Little heart, all full of hate.

      1. Then how about supporting all women everywhere from the oppression of Sharia, or do you hate women as much as you hate Jews?

        1. Looks like the hater is you. Keep your strawman for another occasion. I don’t feed the trolls.

          1. “Inconvenient Truths About Al Jazeera” by Gordon Corvitz from Jan 7th, Wall Street Journal, page A11, has some more “fake statistics” for you, and an interesting quote from Judea Pearl (who you earlier refered to as being rational and forgiving) calling certain people “savages” But what do I know? I’m just a hater and a troll using fake statistics and strawmen to hate and troll.

          2. I had to google to realize you’re talking about an article in the Murdoch-owned WSJ, which is eternally slanted against Al Jazeera. And there are no stats there, so not sure what you’re citing.

          3. Fake examples may have been more accurate than fake statistics, but how about the 400 million dollars to Hamas(a declared terrorist group by US gov.) by the emir of Qatar, Hamid bin Khalifa Al Thani, who also bankrolls “mainstream” Al Jeezera. And the networks continual celebration of terrorists and their terror goals. That seemed pretty well documented despite the WSJ’s prejudice against AJ.

          4. I’m highly amused and surprised. Oh wait, not surprised.

            See what happens when you feed the trolls? lol

          5. Hrag, even though I may not share your political views I do enjoy Hyperallergic, and appreciate all your hard work. A sincere thank you to you and the rest of the HA staff.

          6. Shawn, thank you for reading and it means a lot to me that while our politics might not align you feel comfortable enough to engage and dialogue on the site. Thank you for engaging.

          7. You don’t make sense. You think trolls are pretty? Sorry, google image search tells me otherwise.

          8. Dear koguma, you seem so blissfully free from the ravages of intellect that I could almost laugh if it didn’t make me so sad.

          9. It seems the ravaging has done a number on you though. For the benefit of others, let’s take a look at what you wrote.

            I wrote: ” I don’t agree on supporting Israel.”

            You replied: “you hate Jews?”

            This is a typical redirect of Zionist haters. Turn any negative talk about Israel into anti-semitism. After all, that’s really your only defense. It’s haters like you who made that poster. You should be proud. For others, please read up on Zionism here: Most Jews aren’t Zionists, and a lost of Zionists aren’t Jews.

            Then we have your response: “… how about supporting all women everywhere from the oppression of Sharia, or do you hate women …”

            And your idea of that support is by spreading more hate?

          10. Siding with people who want to commit genocide on 7 million Zionist living in Isreal, and to kill Jews world wide, hardly makes you a friend to the Jew; or for that sake, Humanity. But you are so full of L-O-V-E! What a darling you are.

          11. Fantastic! A Zionist AND a Racist. Going two for one. I’m surprised you know how to spell L-O-V-E. Actually though, Zionism and Racism go hand in hand, good job proving the point of these guys:


            Equating the actions of a few to the many, and spouting Zionist propaganda. You’re a real piece of work.

            Killing Jews world wide? Really?

            These guys get something your hate filled heart never will. Doesn’t look like you yourself are much of a friend to the Jew.


  2. Sorry, Kyle, but if you don’t support freedom of hate speech, you don’t support freedom of speech.

      1. What’s the counterclaim, then? That public billboard advertising isn’t obliged to honor the First Amendment?

        1. I simply think that public billboards are a more aggressive advertising that you can’t turn off, etc. It has different rules and hate doesn’t have a place on them.

          1. It doesn’t have different rules. It has the same rule as other speech. So what rules are you proposing instead?

          2. I’d like to see a source for that too. But even if it’s true, what rules are you proposing regarding public billboard advertising?

          3. It’s not my job to suggest them and I’m not really interested in doing so, but to suggest that billboard content isn’t being censored all the time is incorrect. Try putting up a white supremacist billboard in New York and tell me if that would be approved.

          4. If Kyle is going to characterize the new ad as “hate speech,” then express surprise or indignation or something that this is protected speech, then it’s fair to ask him what rule we should be following instead of the First Amendment on the matter. Or for you to do it on his behalf, just as you’re replying to me on his behalf.

            So you’re saying that content is being censored all the time and that they should censor the above too? On what principle, apart from your personal feelings of offense? Because in my opinion, the ad’s link between terrorism and certain incendiary passages of the Quran isn’t controversial. That there is also a link between terrorism and many other factors, and between the Islamic religion and millions of people living out peaceful, civil lives, doesn’t negate that point.

          5. I’m pretty certain that you haven’t thought through these issues very carefully and are now declining an opportunity to do so.

          6. Franklin, Now you’re trying to troll, but I’m used to it. And I think your understanding of billboards, advertising, and free speech is limited. If you read my writing you’d know that it is a topic I’ve discussed extensively in the past. But don’t let reality interfere with your opinion.

          7. Not trolling at all. I quite sincerely think you haven’t thought through these issues very carefully, particularly as they relate to natural rights and our Bill of Rights. If you could point me to some of your writings on this topic I’ll be glad to read them.

          8. It’s a string that goes through a great many of my writings. Your attitude, you might not be aware, comes across as offensive and to suggest I haven’t thought it through even though you yourself are apparently quite unaware of billboard laws is not exactly a place to start a fruitful discussion.

          9. If it’s a string that goes through a great many of your writings it should be no great trouble to provide a few links, which is all I’m requesting.

            You’ve disdained to answer a couple of honest questions overhead. You have now twice criticized my knowledge of billboard law without any specifics, while you yourself made a claim about them regarding playgrounds that does not seem to apply to New York City, to say nothing of most of the rest of the United States. The suggestion that I started this discussion by saying that you haven’t thought through these issues carefully is entirely out of order. You seem unwilling to engage in a substantive challenge to this article (albeit less so than Kyle!). Nevertheless I have not commented on your attitude, and I’ll kindly ask you to reciprocate.

          10. This says that you can’t display sexually offensive signage near a playground, not that you can’t advertise certain things. In fact, it says that the Supreme Court has generally found such restrictions unconstitutional.

          11. FFS, when will some people learn the difference between debating and arguing? One can be fruitful and interesting, the other one happens on the internet.

          12. The real lost distinction here is between opinions and claims, the latter which require evidence and a vector towards a main argument. Hrag failed to support his point about billboards near playgrounds, but even if he hadn’t, it would have implied that we shouldn’t put messages potentially offensive to Muslims on billboards for the same reason that we don’t advertise certain things near playgrounds. That would have been amusing.

          13. Franklin, There’s no need for a counterargument when your discussion isn’t fact based. Since today is a holiday, I have a little more time to find the document I wanted you to see. Here is a more nuanced discussion about the state of US laws as it related to national alcohol laws and advertising near children (and how they all differ as we don’t have a federal law that covers everything):
            Check out the section titled: 4. Restrict Outdoor Alcohol Advertising in Locations Where Children Are Likely to Be Present

          14. It’s your responsibility to provide evidence for your claims, not mine. This document says that restricted alcohol advertising near playgrounds (or their rough equivalent) exists in the city of Baltimore, and the states of Virginia, Ohio (with some exceptions), Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Washington. Does this support the statement that “you can’t advertise certain things on billboards near playgrounds”? Partially, and not where the author is located, nor the person he’s addressing, but let’s go with it anyway.

            How does this bear upon the public display of statements that are potentially offensive to Muslims?

          15. I said that I’d like to see a source for your claim that you can’t advertise certain things near playgrounds. You finally provided one, though it’s far from perfect. My question stands.

          16. I should add that the reason there aren’t more laws is that the industry self-regulates mostly nowadays (probably to ensure there aren’t more laws) but it does so unevenly, which is why they still exist. Hope this clears things up a little, Franklin.

          17. This is a statewide document … Page 9: “Local governments occasionally enact content-based sign regulations
            in an effort to protect minors from smoking or alcohol consumption. Sign regulations which restrict the advertising of tobacco and liquor product have had a checkered history in the Courts.”

          18. At which point it discusses all the laws that were struck down, save a Fourth Circuit ruling in Baltimore that banned free-standing outdoor advertising of alcoholic beverages. Neither playgrounds nor any other particular locales are mentioned.

          19. The part that is obvious is that you have no reverence for the First Amendment, Hrag. Please re-read its text. Warning someone about the existence of a threat to their existence is not hate speech. You seem just to don;t like the fact that the actual words of the Quran are being shown to be an incitement to the type of violence that came to lower Manhattan in January of 1993 and again in September of 2001. Isn’t that really it? You really do not seem to have an argument for those facts, do you? You just want to label something in a manner that would indicate others should dislike it.

          20. The UK is irrelevant to this discussion. The US link goes to a city ordinance particular to Novato, CA (in the North Bay, unsurprisingly). The study suggests that such a restriction ought to exist in the case of alcohol advertising, not that it does. You’re still not answering my question about what rules you’re proposing.

    1. “The United States Supreme Court has defined hate speech as any communication that disparages a person or a group on the basis of some characteristic such as race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or other characteristic.”

      So, no such thing as “freedom of hate speech”.

  3. I just can’t help but wonder what would happen if a group of atheists started publishing billboards decrying all the violence committed by Christians. How about “Hitler was a Christian” with an image of a cross on top of a pile of bodies? I believe fervently in the First Amendment but if this isn’t hate speech, I don’t know what is.

    1. As soon as my opinion about your speech is given the force of law, you are no longer living in a free society. The First Amendment protects anything you might call hate speech, as well it should.

    2. I’m sure that whatever would happen, you would be able to go about your life without concern for some radical Christian killing you.

  4. My 2 cents: A government that will slaughter children and drop cluster bombs in civilian areas in wars where they kill as many civilians as militants is not civilized.

  5. Hrag I am shocked at how quickly you dismiss every other viewpoint that disagrees with yours while claiming the ethical high-ground. Such a position can only be earned and certainly not by villainizing everyone who questions the logic presented without providing clear evidence. So far that strategy doesn’t seem to have won over hearts and minds.

      1. You’re in estimable company, Steve. Hrag said to me, “You only listen to what you want, don’t you? LOL” and “There’s your selectivity again.” Now you, allegedly, “might be reading into something that isn’t there.” I said that I wouldn’t comment on Hrag’s attitude, but it’s not easy to have a productive discussion with someone who thinks that you don’t agree with him because, basically, you’re delusional.

  6. everyone knows the deal with power structures in the US of A and these ads are just letting us know that the crusade against Islam will continue..what would you expect in a country thats over 70%christian…Christians like Nazi,s and Japan will not stop till they rule the entire earth and of course you know what happened to them .Any race of people who believe they are chosen people and have a right to brand themselves more civilized than the next ..when all humanity is guilty of atrocities, is blind. and we all know what blind men with guns are capable of
    I think radical Islam is just as crazy and off kilter as our radical Christians at home who are the exact opposite of what Christ teaching’s truly were.
    This is about power and money not about poor people who ride the subway but like the flag that was strategically placed on every subway car the day after 911 or the “be aware …be very afraid” tape that plays religiously in our subway cars as if we were in the McCarthy era all over again. These ads are there to propagate fear in the hearts of people not intelligent enough to see that there true enemy is the major corporations who construct and fund wars that are about expansionist dreams of power .

    If corporations are now people and have the right to free speech then whoever has the most money has the floor these ads tell us where the power lays in america whoever funded these ads own the USA. who can say i do not think those ads should be run they are there and they keep coming

    see our country for what it is and see who is master of it

  7. Hate speech? Speaking truth is never hate speech.

    Read and learn.

    Study history and learn.

    You are under attack but you are in denial.

    Denial, when maintained for too long, can lead to your demise. Ask any Ostrich.

Comments are closed.