Anti-Islamic advertisements have become almost commonplace in American metropolitan areas, attempting to strike fear into those who take the public transport systems. Now, in San Francisco, the ultra-conservative Pamela Geller is taking a two-prong approach: anti-Islam and anti-gay.
According to a post on Geller’s blog, Atlas Shrugs, she dedicated this latest attack of Islam and the gay community to those within the LGBT world who have condemned and criticized her ad campaigns.
The ads are to have quotes from conservative Islamic leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric living in Qatar who has been outspoken in his anti-gay sentiments.
“The punishment of homosexuality is the death penalty,” will read one ad, quoting the sheikh. All the ads will then end with the line: “That’s His Jihad. What’s Yours?”
City officials, activists and religious leaders have all roundly condemned the advertisements, saying they once again show the insensitivity towards faith and social issues. But the ads, paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative will go forward under First Amendment regulations for free speech.
It isn’t the first time that Muni buses in the city have been hit by the anti-Islamic ads. Previous ads had pasted quotes from Osama bin Laden on the sides of buses. But the city won’t take any of the money, donating the revenue to the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.
The Qaradawi ads will run beginning in early April, and have left many in the local Arab population angered and stunned.
“The one great thing about San Francisco is that it is an accepting city. We have all lived a struggle,” said Amr Mohsen, an Egyptian-American gay man living in the Bay Area. He told 429Magazine that “Americans across many different perspectives can understand being threatened at some point in their life so this is just insulting to what it means to live in this area.”
For Geller, he had a message. “You aren’t going to change things by causing more harm. Wake up and be part of reality and not part of the same bigotry you are trying to fight against.”
Geller wanted to get back at the gay community in San Francisco.
“The ads will increase awareness about the subjugation and oppression of gays under Shariah law,” said Geller. “The gay community should be standing with me, not against me.”
Theresa Sparks, head of the Human Rights Commission, said the ad campaigns are another example of Geller categorizing an entire religion as intolerant.
“She is posting these ads to suggest that all Muslims hate gays,” Sparks, a transgender woman, said in comments published by SF Examiner.
“Some cultures do discriminate, and that’s wrong. It all depends who you’re talking to. But she’s trying to generalize and cast this wide net around a diverse group of people.”