A US judge ruled Friday that a pro-Israel bus ad, equating jihadists with “savages,” be allowed to run in New York.
The decision ended a lawsuit by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which submitted the proposed ad, against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. MTA oversees New York area transportation systems like public buses, the subway and commuter trains.
The ad was initially rejected, as MTA objected to its demeaning language. The poster reads: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel/Defeat Jihad.”
Federal District Court Judge Paul A. Engelmayer declared the ban went against the First Amendment, which protects free speech. Engelmeyer stated the ad should be “afforded the highest level of protection.”
“Whatever weight might be assigned to the governmental interest in banning demeaning speech on the exterior of New York City buses on an evenhanded basis,” he added, “there is no good reason for protecting some individuals and groups, but not others, from such abuse.”
MTA will have 30 days to place the ad in its intended locations, giving the transit authority time to review its appeal options. The original request by the AFDI was for the ad to be featured in more than 300 spots for a total of four weeks.
MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said the organization is reviewing the decision, and “evaluating its existing advertising standards in light of the court’s ruling.”
AFDI Executive Director Pamela Geller, meanwhile, called the ruling “a victory for freedom-loving people.”