Muslim ads on county buses drive Jewish group to protest
Muslim group says reference to Abraham, Moses and Jesus not intended to offend, but Americans Against Hate activist says message is misleading
January 15, 2009
There's a new front in the conflict between Jew and Muslim: Broward County buses.
Fifty of the county's 290-bus fleet have
been chugging around area streets for the past several weeks with a message
that might seem more oblique than inflammatory. Black letters on a white
backdrop proclaim, "ISLAM: The Way of Life of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad."
The $60,000 ad was paid for by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"We owe it to our fellow Americans to let them know that Islam stands for peace," said Altaf Ali, director of CAIR's
But the words have inspired opposition from a group
called Americans Against Hate, led by Jewish activist
Joe Kaufman. The group says the ad is misleading because it
implies that Abraham, Moses and Jesus were Muslim.
"That's offensive to both Jews and Christians," said Kaufman, a resident of Coral Springs.
County officials have rejected Kaufman's request they remove the ads. Now he plans a rally outside County Hall at noon Friday.
"We want to send a message right to the commission that it's not right to legitimize this organization," he said.
Both CAIR and AAH accuse each other of being affiliated with terrorists.
Kaufman notes the U.S. Department of Justice labeled CAIR an "unindicted co-conspirator" in a
Ali, who lives in Pembroke Pines, counters that Kaufman is affiliated with the Kahanist Movement founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane, who advocated removing all Muslims from
Because of its terrorist activities, the group was banned in
Kaufman writes for the right-leaning Web publication Front Page Magazine, and once called for nuclear attacks on
"He's a man who advocates for killing," Ali said.
Ali said the ad accurately describes Abraham, Moses and Jesus. "A Muslim is anyone who submits their will to God," he said. "By that definition Abraham and all the prophets are Muslim because they submitted their will to God."
As to CAIR's alleged ties to Hamas, Ali said: "There is no credible evidence that that is true. Unindicted means unindicted."
Kaufman remains unconvinced. "They are an organization that's connected to the terrorist group Hamas," he said.
Broward County Transit spokeswoman Phyllis Berry said the county accepted CAIR's message because it didn't violate guidelines against ads that demean religions. The county also accepts ads from Christian churches, and courts have designated buses as "public forums" where free speech rights apply.
The ads will run
through Jan. 26, but may be the last of their kind on county buses.
"We have restrictions on cigarettes and adult entertainment, and we should eliminate religious ads hereafter,"