First Amendment

Satirical 'killing Jews' ad can't be banned from New York mass transit, judge rules

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A satirical “killing Jews” ad is protected speech that can’t be barred on New York buses and subways, a Manhattan federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge John Koeltl ruled (PDF) on Tuesday, saying that MTA officials “underestimate the tolerant quality of New Yorkers and overestimate the potential impact of these fleeting advertisements.” The New York Times, the Washington Post and Courthouse News Service have stories.

The sponsor of the ad is the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a pro-Israeli group that aims to combat “treason” by government officials in their “capitulation to the global jihad and Islamic supremacism.”

The ad shows a man wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh with the quotation, “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah,” Below the photo, the ad reads, “That’s his Jihad. What’s yours?” The quotation is attributed to “Hamas MTV,” which doesn’t exist, and a disclaimer on the ad says it is sponsored by AFDI.

The ad was intended to parody an earlier ad campaign by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group, which portrayed jihad as a nonviolent struggle.

Transit officials feared the “killing Jews” ad would not be recognized as parody. The same ad had run in San Francisco and Chicago without triggering violence.

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