Victory! Major Free Speech Battle In NYC Against Islam Won!
Another huge AFDI victory for freedom and individual rights. The ruling came down this morning. The Judge came down on our side on every point, upholding the Constitution and beating back sharia restrictions on free speech.
Bravo Judge John Koeltl
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled in our favor on our motion for a preliminary injunction, which asked the court to enter an order requiring New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to run a “Hamas Killing Jews” advertisement on MTA buses.
Money quote in the ruling:
“The defendants’ theory is thoroughly unpersuasive.”
“The defendants contend that the advertisement could be read as urging a subset of Islamic extremists to follow Hamas’s command, but if that group is as violent and radicalized as the defendants contend, presumably they would not need a bus advertisement to remind them of Hamas’s interpretation of the Quran.”
Both the balance of equities and the public interest in this case favor granting the preliminary injunction for the plaintiffs. “[S]ecuring First Amendment rights is in the public interest.”
The Judge so granted it. And it was good.
Enormous thanks our legal warriors David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center.
If you missed my coverage of the hearings, go here.
The advertisement qualifies as protected speech, and the defendants have restricted it based on its content without a compelling interest or a response narrowly tailored to achieving any such interest. Accordingly, the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction is granted.
Read the court opinion here. Court Opinion
The motion was part of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), Pamela Geller, and Robert Spencer after the MTA refused to run the following ad:
MTA’s rejection was based upon its “security assessment,” fearing that some New Yorkers (presumably Muslims) would likely take the Hamas quote to kill Jews as a religious instruction and thus engage in imminent violence. However, as the MTA acknowledges, this same ad ran in Chicago and San Francisco without incident.
And the Judge noted the same thing.
AFDI intended the Killing Jews ad as a parodic response to the “My Jihad” ad campaign carried out in 2012 and 2013 by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (“CAIR”), a Muslim civil rights advocacy organization. Rosen Decl. ¶ 68; Geller Decl.
¶ 21. CAIR initiated the “My Jihad” campaign in response to AFDI’s “Savages” ad. Rosen Decl. ¶ 63. The “My Jihad” campaign sought to portray the Islamic concept of lesser jihad, or individual and personal struggle, by depicting Muslim individuals with positive messages. Rosen Decl. ¶ 62. One typical ad states, “‘#MyJihad is to build friendships across the aisle.’ What’s yours?” Rosen Decl. ¶ 60. The CAIR ads ran in public transit systems in Chicago and San Francisco in early 2013, but never ran in New York because of CAIR’s disagreement with the MTA over the MTA’s insistence on the inclusion of its disclaimer. Rosen Decl. ¶ 65-68. The AFDI, in turn, sought to counter the CAIR ads with the Killing Jews ad, among others, which all depict Islamic extremist quotes or acts of violence or terrorism and then mimick, “That’s #My Jihad. What’s yours?” Rosen Decl. ¶¶ 68-69.
Diaz was aware of the AFDI’s intention at the time of his security assessment and acknowledged it in his letter to the MTA Chairman. Diaz Decl. Ex. 1. However, he wrote in the letter that “what matters is not AFDI’s intent, but how the ad would be interpreted.”
Apparently MTA security top dog is very afraid of Jew-hating jihadis.
Diaz concluded that the quote depicted from Hamas MTV, “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah,” followed by “That’s his Jihad. What’s yours?” would be interpreted as “urg[ing] Muslims to kill or attack Jews as a religious obligation,” and thus would be likely to provoke violence
Mind you, the NYPD refused to to offer an official opinion on the ad when asked.
At the hearing, Diaz explained his conclusion in more detail. Diaz suggested that the ad’s advocacy towards violence principally came from the line, “What is yours?”, which he stated could be read as a “call to violence.” Tr. 82, 83, 87. Diaz testified that the likelihood of incitement was “hard to quantify” in percentages, Tr. 72, but that in the case of this ad, there are “easily radicalized” people committing violent acts “almost on a daily basis throughout the world,” and that the ad could cause such people to act violently.
Does Obama know this?
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