Montgomery Faith Leaders Protest Anti-Muslim Bus Ads

Leaders and members from ten faith groups gathered to protest the face of Hitler on anti-Muslim bus ads that have gone up on 20 D.C. Metro buses.

Reverend Mansfield Kaseman addressing the crowd at the protest. Credit: Charles Lee
Reverend Mansfield Kaseman addressing the crowd at the protest. Credit: Charles Lee
Members of the faith community say an image on 20 D.C. Metro buses of Adolf Hitler meeting with an anti-Jewish Islamic leader is a hateful ad that they tried to negate with a message of love.

The ad, which a court said could be allowed as free speech, calls for an end of U.S. aid to Islamic countries.

The Montgomery County Faith Community Working Group gathered on a corner near the Rockville Metro on Monday to protest the bus ad. Members of the group consisted of ten different faiths: Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Sikh, Unitarian Universalist and Zoroastrian.

The Rev. Mansfield Kaseman, interfaith liaison with Montgomery County’s Office of Community Partnerships, was one of the speakers at the protest.

“We are responding to the ads in the larger context of knowing that hate groups are growing across the country,” Kaseman said in an interview during the protest.

The ad -- taken from a Word War II era image -- was put up by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, according to Montgomery Community Media. But the ads now on the sides of the buses are not the first ones put up by the group.

WJLA reports that in 2012, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority lost a court battle to keep out the previous ad that the American Freedom Defense Initiative wanted to run -- which said, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” A court judge ruled in favor of the ad being run under the first amendment, allowing for freedom of speech.

“My intent is leapfrog over a media that is not even-handed, that is advancing the propaganda against the Jewish state,” Pamela Geller, head of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, told WJLA about the new bus ad.

Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, does not see it from Geller’s point of view.

“This is a propaganda campaign designed to incite hatred against American Muslims, and this campaign has been based on false information, taking things out of context from the Quran,” Awad told WJLA.

Fatima Durrani, a member of the Montgomery County Faith Community Working Group, told Patch the ads made her feel very uncomfortable and she believes the protest on Monday went well.

“People from different faiths all showed up,” Durrani said. “That showed us how important this was for Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. It wasn’t just important for Muslims. Our goal was to spread awareness about this issue and also let people know that the entire faith community does not accept this kind of hate and that the Quran is not anti-Jewish. I just feel very uncomfortable, knowing that those hate ads are going all throughout D.C. and messing with people’s minds who may not know better.”

Kaseman told Patch that he was shocked at seeing the ads.

“For me, this is hate speech,” Kaseman said. “But according to the court, it’s freedom of expression. We will not be critical of the Metro for running them. They’re required to do that legally. On the other hand, my concern is that they are appealing to ignorance, to insecurity that many people carry with them. So this triggers further hate.”

Kaseman and Durrani both said one of the goals of the protest was to respond to the hate ads with love and peace rather than with more hatred.

“What my faith community working group is committed to is a society that respects differences and that does not respond to hate with hatred but to hate with love,” Kaseman said.

The ads are scheduled to stay on the Metro buses for four weeks, according to WJLA.
John June 11, 2014 at 09:27 AM
Check your history pal! The muslims were 100% behind Hitler!
Ken Sandin June 11, 2014 at 12:04 PM
If that means you believe in responding to hate with hate, may I suggest a compassion checkup. A good place to begin would be Karen Armstrong's book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.
Peggy Anne June 11, 2014 at 12:15 PM
American leaders were 100% behind a lot of dictators they created, too.
Alistaire Moore June 13, 2014 at 07:44 AM
No kidding, John. Muslims pretty much want to kill the Jews, so we can leave "their" land alone.
Patrick McCann June 15, 2014 at 12:45 AM
What a disgusting, racist, inflammatory ad selection.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »