An inflammatory advertisement equating Islamic jihad with savagery was posted Monday in 10 New York City subway stations, even as much of the Muslim world was still seething over a California-made movie ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad.
The ad, sponsored by the pro-Israel American Freedom Defense Initiative, appeared after the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) lost a bid to refuse to post it on the grounds that it violated the agency's policy against demeaning language. In July, a federal judge ruled it was protected speech and ordered the MTA to place the posters.
The ad, featuring mostly black-and-white lettering on 46-by-30-inch (117-by-72-cm) cardboard posters, will remain posted for a month, MTA spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said.
In a recent interview with Reuters TV, American Freedom Law Center's David Yerushalmi, representing Geller's organization, said the ads are a form of protected free speech.
He also defended the word "savage" used in the advertisement that initially prompted the MTA to seek to ban the posters.
Instead he opted to hand passersby flyers to denounce bigotry.
Despite the controversy, most subway riders who passed the ad failed to notice it. Those who did were generally critical.
Alma Ali, a second-generation Bangladeshi-American said: "We're definitely not savages. We haven't done anything savage. There are some people in the entire religion that are like that, but it doesn't single everyone out. It's not just everyone in the Islam religion, it's just a few people that made mistakes based on what they believed in."
A female commuter, who declined to give Reuters her name, disagreed.
The American Freedom Defense Initiative gained notoriety when it opposed creation of a Muslim community center near the site of the Twin Towers, which were destroyed in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.