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Bus 'jihad' ads spark controversy

Nov. 15, 2012 at 9:10 AM

CHICAGO, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- A Jewish organization says ads running on the back of Chicago buses are hate speech because they imply all Muslims are violent.

The ads speak of the friction between Muslims and Coptic Christians in Egypt and end with the tagline "Support Copts. Defeat Jihad," the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday.

The ads sparked controversy within hours of their appearance Wednesday. Messages on social media sites said the ads amounted to hate speech because they slammed a basic tenet of Islam -- a Muslim's personal quest to become a better person.

Asaf Bar-Tura, program director for the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, protested the ad campaign would "incite hate and stereotypical thinking."

Pamela Geller, executive director of American Freedom Defense Initiative, which sponsored the ads, denied in an email the ads had a message of hate.

"There's nothing hateful about it. 9/11 was hate. 3/11 in Madrid was hate," she said. "Pushing back against such hate is not hate."

The executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, Ahmed Rehab, said CAIR would soon launch a nationwide ad campaign called "My Jihad" in which individual Muslims would talk about what jihad means to them as a spiritual concept.

"People can decide what racism is," Rehab said.

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