Why the anti-Muslim ads in New York City were not hate speech

Published: January 21, 2013

Anti-Islam advertisements in NYC on public transport systems.

Offensive ads have been showing on New York City buses and in subway station. 

One reads,

“In any war between the civilised man and the savage, support the civilized man.”

Beneath that, in blue, were two Stars of David, and the words,

“Support Israel.”

Below that, in red text, it read,

“Defeat Jihad.

Surely, this is politically incorrect in a world where human rights discourse has more or less permeated consciousness.  If teachers in colleges made such statements, many would boycott their classes – if employees at the office water cooler called Muslims savages, it’d be the subject of a workplace controversy.

Why was the ad not been banned as hate speech?  Shouldn’t the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) be protecting its passengers from harassment?

Muslims have been the subject of institutional racism since 9-11 – profiling, discriminatory laws, and violence both in the US and abroad.  Some profess that the MTA itself is racist.  SWAT teams regularly patrol the subway and conduct racist spot checks. Perhaps, it was only a matter of time that words like “savage” depicting the “other” as primitive, fierce, ferocious, and barbaric – and who must be conquered and civilized would be eventually normalised.

Never mind that such reference is reminiscent of a discredited colonial imagination.

According to US District Judge, Paul Engelmayer, prohibiting such ads would violate the First Amendment right to free speech.  Only very limited forms of speech –incitement, defamation, and “fighting words” are forbidden under American law – and the ad was not amongst these categories. Furthermore, to prove the point, the ad’s proponents, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), a right winged pro-Israel advocacy group, led by Pamela Geller, rushed to court.

Engelmayer’s reasoning is internally logical and reflects a studious adherence to precedent and an unflinching commitment to a constitutional principle – albeit in a political vacuum and is thus willfully blind to socio-economic imbalances.

And this is where free speech law fails us.

Free speech doctrines are not concerned with Israeli crimes against the Palestinians; the economic apartheid, the systematic use of sophisticated weapons, the ethnic cleansing, the expulsions, and occupation. Free speech law sees the world as black and white and flat. It purports to be a neutral witness to the ravages of history. All speech is equal and equally sacred – whether or not it is biased against a community that has suffered historical oppression at the hands of the one the speech maker sympathises with.

This – according to absolute free speech proponents – is the only possible way to protect it. MTA’s intentions may be “benign and noble” in seeking to derail the ad, but are no cure for a First Amendment violation. The doctrines must protect the “free flow of ideas and opinions” – regardless of whether some speech has the backing of tanks, billions of dollars, and a heavy duty Washington lobby, is disfavoured or unpopular or, as in the case of these ads, someone doled out  $25,000 to make it.

The AFDI claimed the ad was in response to one by WESPAC Foundation that said:

“Be on our side. We are the side of peace and justice. End U.S. military aid to Israel.”

In contrast the AFDI’s views are plainly racist. They reference a website on the ad which has articles and one of which states:

Islamic societies are among the least developed cultures, the product of nomadic civilization. Their culture is primitive and barbaric, and they hate Israel because it is the sole beacon of modern science and civilization and technology in the Middle East.

In this context, the court had no problem finding the ad demeaning to Muslims. It also found that it violated the MTA’s standard proscribing speech that demeans a person or group on account of,

“Race, colour, religion, national origin, ancestry, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation.”

What they found instead was that MTA’s “no demeaning standard” was content based and thus unlawful.

Content based restrictions in “designated public forums” such as on buses and in subway stations (and unlike jails, military bases and airports) are subject to,

“Strict scrutiny and must be narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest.”

The MTA standard was unlawful as it protected certain groups, but not others.  The court contended that ads that demean based on

“Place of residence, personal history, education, occupation, physical characteristics (other than disability), political affiliation, union membership, point of view, or behaviour” would be allowed.

Holding that the MTA can’t pick and choose what to broadcast, the court cited a list of potentially demeaning statements that would be permissible under MTA rules:

“Southerners are bigots”; “Upper West Siders are elitist snobs”; “Fat people are slobs”; “Blondes are bimbos”; “Lawyers are sleazebags”; or “The store clerks at Gristedes are rude and lazy.” “Democrats are communists”; “Republicans are heartless”; or “Tea Party adherents are barbaric.”  ”John Doe is a child-abuser”; “Jane Doe runs a Ponzi scheme”; or “My neighbors, the Does, are horrible parents.”

But let’s get real.

Most of the above statements are a bit spiteful but are not directed against historically oppressed groups. The “no demeaning standards” conforms to human rights principles in recognising the discrimination suffered by certain communities – Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Africans, immigrants, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus other religious minorities, disabled, gays and lesbians, women, youth, elderly people, people who face multiple such oppressions. Thus it’s not so bad when you poke fun at an overweight male Protestant Caucasian investment banker – but it becomes disturbing when you direct aspersions at a Mexican migrant labourer or a Black welfare mother to promote an idea or a product.

Although economic status is not explicitly mentioned in MTA’s nine enumerated categories (a missing element in US civil and human rights law) in Pakistan it would be callous to have railways porters or female cotton pickers represented in ads for clothing for the rich, but an ad poking fun at an upper class woman sporting $1,000 shoes seems inoffensive. Speech becomes unacceptable, even hostile, according to its social, economic, and political context.

What then is the solution?

It’s desirable to want some political context to free speech – but then it wouldn’t be free anymore and who knows with the slippery slope argument. In contrast in Pakistan, we place heavy impositions on free speech – Article 19 grants it and subjects it to any:

“Reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, commission of or incitement to an offence.” 

Even legislators face legal action for suggesting amendments to blasphemy law.

Perhaps the best revenge is justice in the people’s court. Within days, activists had defaced almost all of the AFDI’s ads – expressing, ironically, their own freedom of expression which came at the cost of a spray paint can and a possible charge of disorderly conduct.

Read more by Abira here , or follow her on Twitter @oil_is_opium 

Abira Ashfaq

Abira Ashfaq

A member of the California Bar with a bachelors from Dartmouth College and a Juris Doctor from the Northeastern University School of Law. She currently works in Karachi. Abira tweets @oil_is_opium.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://ranausman.wordpress.com Rana Usman

    In dark ages of west, a man would get up, speak/write non-sense, he would get much appreciation, people would praise him/her for such utter non-sense.

    200 years later, the world realised, it was a dark age where non-sense was praised.

    Something similar is going to happen on this blog.

    God Speed.Recommend

  • T

    There is not much difference between ‘them’ and ‘us’ to be honest. They are using the pen – we are using the sword, to eliminate and alienate hindus, qadianis, ahmedis, shias, blaming half the world as Kaafir.Recommend

  • Pessimist

    Greetings!

    I liked this article, it was well researched. However, I would like to give my opinion on one statement:

    Muslims have been the subject of institutional racism since 9-11 – profiling, discriminatory laws, and violence both in the US and abroad.

    I don’t understand how Muslims can be subject to racism. As far as I know, Islam is not a race. I think an Indonesian Muslim or even a Bosnian Muslim would be treated more differently than an Arab or Pakistani/ Indian Muslim, wouldn’t you agree so? The racism seems more towards the ‘brown’ people, at least that’s what I believe.

    Regarding AFDI, I believe it has been shunned from mainstream media, or at least from most of it (except Fox!), so I guess that’s how people respond to free speech. It’s all rather interesting, wouldn’t you agree so?

    One last thing:

    … they hate Israel because it is the sole beacon of modern science and civilization and technology in the Middle East.

    I doubt that. They ‘hate’ Israel because of it’s inhumane treatment of Palestine. Recommend

  • Munna Lahori

    How can we complain when we are doing the same in Pakistan. The region where i live in Lahore is a posh locality or presumably educated folks are living there but i can see banners of Anti Americanism, Anti Jews and Anti Ahmedis, Just today somebody painted on our wall that Shias must be eliminated from Lahore in coming days. So we should look into the mirror before criticizing others. Also do you know in Punjab a recent Deobandi trend have been emerged where one Hadees is being quoted stating that Muslims should never ever share their utensils with non Muslims because they are dirty people and can never be our friends and Christians who work in homes are being discriminated based on that. So I think first cleanse our country from the hatred and indoctrination of hatred we are embedding in our generation and then we will be able to point fingers at others.Recommend

  • Zakir

    We cry foul and racism when we live abroad but if we will peep into our country then we are worse than others so let us start self catharsis first and then tell Americans that you are wrong. We should have something in our baggage to earn the respect and at present we are bankrupt. Let us build our Image as a Pakistani just like Germans and Japanese did and then everything will be fine. Remember respect cannot be demanded but must be earned. Our middle class is more concerned about Palestine than the daily killings going on in Pakistan. Let us solve our domestic problems first then go on a rampage of Palestinian help as Arabs are there for Palestinians but believe me no one will be there for Pakistanis in any hour of need.Recommend

  • Pessimist

    For Munna Lahori (and any others):

    Whilst everything you have said is correct, I don’t think you understand the point of this blog. It isn’t about how America, Muslims & etc, it’s about free speech and how you can distinguish between free speech & hate speech, or at least that is what I think.

    In civilised societies, people are allowed to express their opinions, however absurd they may be. If someone takes offence to them, then perhaps they can settle the matter in court, rather than resort to violence. Although it didn’t work in this case, the last paragraph of this article might give you some insight into the response of the public :)Recommend

  • Realist

    Its their country. They are free to do what they want. No one is stopping Muslims from burning US flags in their countries. Recommend

  • BlackJack

    Why don’t you guys educate the American people and transform this unjustified suspicion into outright admiration – on how minorities are treated so much better in citadels of Islam like Pakistan than in America; that there is absolutely nothing within the religion or its holy book which can possibly be construed as barbaric or anti-non-muslim – even the direct quote in the picture must have been some form of gallows humor when HE was in a particularly flippant mood; that the 9/11 core team as well as all the fundamentalists currently in Afghanistan, Algeria, Mali, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen etc have been somehow reading the wrong stuff. Tell them to support jihad, not Israel (since you seem to feel that jihadis are one of the oppressed groups in the US and globally). You don’t raise these issues in the country which is the source of so much pain, and instead faithfully line up before the US embassy in the fond hope of somehow reaching there so that you can experience this displeasure first-hand instead of through vicarious whining. Even hypocrisy requires a reality check once in a while – hope you get yours soon.Recommend

  • http://www.zaidzamanhamid.wordpress.com Zaid Hamid

    It feels ironical when Muslims cry for “Free Speech”.Recommend

  • amit (India)

    Excellent article. Maligning a faith or a philosophy is in bad taste, and obviously, we can’t blame all Muslims for terror attacks.

    Out of curiosity, a couple of queries for the author/any informed readers who may care to enlighten me.
    1. If such an opinion on Judaism/Christianity/Hinduism are expressed in Pakistan, are they punishable? I may be completely wrong, but somewhere I remember reading that Pakistani text books contain a lot of venom about ‘Hindus’ and their ‘treachery’. Being an Indian I am somewhat curious about this subject.
    2. I agree totally that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is wrong at many levels. One question here is that wouldn’t the criticism of Israel by Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or Egypt hold more water if these countries improved their treatment of minorities? Without condoning Israel in any manner whatsoever, I think its a bit unfair if Israel is held to a different standard of behavior from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or Egypt, the biggest and most advanced Islamic societies. Obviously, I believe that Israel should change its behavior without waiting for any such action from these states because after all, our actions can’t be dictated by wrong choices made by others.

    On the civilized man Recommend

  • Clarity

    @ Munna Lahori

    My dear friend, I just wanted to clear a confusion you seem to have. According to Islamic scholars who have been educated in one of the branches of Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband i.e. scholars whom you call “Deobandi”, it is absolutely, 100% okay to eat with non-Muslims and share their utensils. I have personally witnessed (and myself been a part of) dinners and lunches in which such scholars ate food from the same plate as Christians, Hindus and atheists.

    You seem to take a view that is popular amongst religiously-illiterate Pakistanis, and label it “Deobandi” because it is uncivilized. Please, read some more or sit with some of these scholars to know what they really say.

    Warm regards.
    Your brother in the pursuit of knowledge.Recommend

  • varuag

    Well reasoned article that has a better pedigree than most op-eds in ET.

    Even in India, its the same article 19(1)(a) that grants this freedom of speech and expression. But the reasonable restrictions are too many and too vaguely defined all through article 19(2) to article 19(6) though they are thankfully devoid of any theological underpinnings.

    I have issues with the author’s idea of revenge in people’s court. Certain rights and doctrines are inalienable and as such should not be subjected to the people’s court. We can see the ill effects of resorting to this people’s court in the ludicrous decision of Switzerland to ban the construction of minarets. In a referendum such misguided ideas may sail through the tyranny of the majority and the governments or the courts may be ill-equipped to handle such scenarios in a direct democracy the sort that exists in Switzerland. To expect that people know the best is misguided when it comes to the rights that we now know and accept as basic. To debate on such axiomatic doctrines is a folly. This is not to say that my stance is anti-democratic but to state that certain rights transcend public opinion, which anyway sways and is based on knee-jerk reactions. Judiciary may be helpful to arbitrate in such scenarios and I can give the example of India where the 1973 Kesavananda case established the doctrine of basic features of constitution. As such, despite the fact that the legislature can amend the constitution, it cannot tamper with the basic features of the constitution and judiciary acts as the guardian of these basic features. So India e.g. is a secular nation and judiciary has established this as a basic feature of the constitution whereby the majority may not be in a position to subvert this principle through mere legislative super-majority.

    There is no single answer to this conundrum and it depends on the evolution of the institutions and organs of each state to chart a course in such troubled waters. I am in principle an absolutist when it comes to free speech, but am realistic enough to accept that India or the subcontinent is decades away from actually implementing the same, and rightly so.Recommend

  • shocked (former) pakistani

    Its interesting to note that all these anti islamic ads are placed by pro israeli lobbies…They prove the verses of the glorious Quran which say that the Jews will be very hostile towards the muslims.Recommend

  • Vikas

    The million dollar question is as to why only against Muslims. The answer to the question will clear all the doubt. I support the civilized.Recommend

  • GrimmJow

    Islamic societies are among the least developed cultures, the product of nomadic civilization. Their culture is primitive and barbaric, blah blah blah

    This is hate speech, however there are some elements of truth in it.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    Why complain, Barrack HUSSAIN Obama, a shia muslim is the head of the zionist controlled United Staes of America. His mission is for peace and to disarm the American citizens.
    God bless America, the land of honey and milk which was created for the choosen people of africa and south american countries, let the zionists keep the Banks under their control.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Tim

    Very pertinent analysis—the racial profiling continues unabated, and the ads above will continue to provide impetus to the mindset which fuels on such overtures. Result: sooner or later, we will recognize the fact that there are absolutely no differences on both sides of the fence amongst those who are bent on war. Same paranoia existed in the US about communists at one point time, and a whole lot of terrorists were grouped into that category-the names have just flipped, the rules of propaganda remain the sameRecommend

  • Yasir

    i just could not bring myself to finish the article. got too tedious to read. Recommend

  • akt

    Islamic societies are among
    the least developed cultures,
    the product of nomadic
    civilization. Their culture is
    primitive and barbaric, and
    they hate Israel because it is the sole beacon of modern
    science and civilization and
    technology in the Middle East.

    What is wrong in the above adv.

    The image of Islam is the same world over . The followers of Islam seems to be least bothered about it .Recommend

  • Musthaq Ahmed

    First part is lot of sophistry . Second part is about law. And finally comes spray paint.
    A mixture of ideas without thread. Perhaps a product of the very same American education.
    The whole is written ” albeit in a political vacuum “. Readers like Munna Lahori tried to make it more wholesome.Recommend

  • Allen Xie

    I agree the signs that mention Islam directly as an evil entity are wrong and hate mongering. But there is nothing wrong with a sign that says: in a war between civilized man and savages… support Israel, defeat jihad. It does not attack the entire Muslim religion but an extreme group of Muslims which are in every way savages. Organizations like Hamas, PLJ and Hezbollah should be treated like the horrible people they are. The image we need to nurture in the West is a balanced approach that condemns Islamic fundamentalist to the fullest degree but also clarify that the majority of Muslims are normal people like you and me. And as far as posting lines for the Qu’ran… well I see no problem in it, as long as the English translation is accurate. In my own readings I see a lot of anti-Jew and anti-christian rhetoric in the Qu’ran… perhaps it is because these texts came much later than the previous two religions. I believe that it is these lines that call jews and christians subhuman that fuel the dogma of Islamist terrorist.Recommend

  • http://California Raj – USA

    What is the biggest symbol of racial and religious hatred. It is nothing but the HINDU KUSH MOUNTAIN RANGE. Imagine a whole mountain range named to glorify as the slaughterhouse of Hindus. Contrary to anything anyone may claim, Islam has always and still practices hatred for everyone including its own followers and their own families. There are countless instances where sons or nephews have killed fathers or uncles to seize power, even as recently as in 1995 in Qatar. Link:
    http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/articles/pages/5519/Al-Thani-Hamad-Bin-Khalifa-1950.html

    On compassion, tolerance, peace and forgiveness that muslims claim Islam preaches, I have not seen any muslim quote any other example other than the one time and only example of the Holy Prophet forgiving a woman who used throw dirt on him. This probably is the only instance just like Jinnah’s one and only line in his lifetime that hindus and muslims can practice religion freely in the independent Pakistan.

    Every Muslim will compare Islam with other religions and claim Islam is the best, has all the knowledge in the world, fastest growing religion, etc., etc. Doesn’t this comparing itself show religious prejudice practiced by muslims and that they look down upon all other religions? Has any other religion ever imposed tax (Jizyah) on followers of other religions? Recommend

  • Westerner

    “One reads,

    “In any war between the civilised man and the savage, support the civilized man.”

    Beneath that, in blue, were two Stars of David, and the words,

    “Support Israel.”

    Below that, in red text, it read,

    “Defeat Jihad.“

    Surely, this is politically incorrect in a world where human rights discourse has more or less permeated consciousness. If teachers in colleges made such statements, many would boycott their classes – if employees at the office water cooler called Muslims savages, it’d be the subject of a workplace controversy.”

    Are you saying all the Muslims are engaged in Jihad? The ad only talks about defeating jihadists. So, who is stigmatizing here? The ad or you? If you’re not a violent jihadist, I don’t see how a moderate Muslim would choose to be offended.

    “Islamic societies are among the least developed cultures, the product of nomadic civilization. Their culture is primitive and barbaric, and they hate Israel because it is the sole beacon of modern science and civilization and technology in the Middle East.”

    How is this racist? You can’t just label something as racist, because you find it too confronting to handle the truth. Generally, Islamic societies are less developed (in terms of technology, military, economy, science), they are more barbaric (see the track records of human right violations, crimes against women, and systematic persecution of minorities), and Anti-Semitism is rampant in Islamic societies, not because Israelis are so progressive, but for the simple fact that they are (most) Jews, something that offends religious minded people deeply.Recommend

  • mahakaalchakra

    I believe the court in New York held a hearing and it allowed the wordings of the display which does not violates the law of the land, USA. So no need to cry. Recommend

  • dooli

    NYC is being strangulated by Semitorealism.Recommend

  • Sayyed Mehdi

    I rarely comment – and rarely like articles. But I really liked this one. Gave me a completely new perspective about the issue. Well done.Recommend

  • Salman

    @T:
    So if Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the West in terms of conversions which can be confirmed through census records, electoral registers, home office stats (name change), then which sword are the Muslims using?

    I, personally know of a number Christians (one Doctor), Sikhs, Hindus, Atheists, two Qadiani’s and even a former Neo Nazi who have converted to the Islamic faith. They came to the fold of Islam either through Muslim dawah (propagation) or because they were confronted with a very negative portrayal of Islam only to realize the complete opposite, when they further scrutinized the faith through dialogue or research.

    The hate campaigns have been ongoing 1400 years without abatement and will continue to do so. However, despite the best efforts of those who orchestrate such campaigns, sometimes they fail miserably in their agendas.

    I have a friend from Denmark who used to work at an Islamic propagation center, he related that during the aftermath of Danish cartoon fiasco, more non-Muslims requested a copy of the Quran than ever and subsequently there was a higher rate of conversions during that year.Recommend

  • Hasan Ansari

    Pakistanis don’t have the mouth to criticize any one any where. Pakistan is a huge mess but the secular elite is sitting tight doing nothing ! The balls don’t ever end the party never stops. Recommend

  • Aamir – Toronto

    I second Pessimist and Munna Lahori…..why there is so much hatred in our hearts, can’t we just live peacefully, who are we portray someone “Right or Wrong” based on his/her belief.Recommend

  • san

    “In any war between the civilised man and the savage, support the civilized man.”
    It very true. Tell me a single civilised Muslim in Pakistan. The message is very clear and every civilised person need to support civilized man not apes of 1400 century. Recommend

  • Something Clever

    “And this is where free speech law fails us.”
    Because it’s not a law to save you from being offended or having a one sided argument. It doesn’t fail you, it’s not there to try and save you.Recommend

  • Ejaz

    The writer here needs a reality check. Until there is total realization of this ‘Holier than Thou’
    attitude by this uninformed writer and others like her, there will continue to be a divide between the the cultures. Truth really hurts. Doesn’t it? These facts are merely stating the what happens to be true. Do not pick and choose. Please apply the same rules and standards universally, if you want to argue your point. Recommend

  • Something Clever

    @Pessimist:
    “I doubt that. They ‘hate’ Israel because of it’s inhumane treatment of Palestine.”
    Explain the hatred of jews before people made up Palestine. They hate jews because they’re told it’s the right thing to do as Muslims.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Why do lawyers write as if only other lawyers will read it ? Having got that off my chest.
    We in the Muslim world especially Pakistanis are a hypocritical lot. We seek out the comfort of the West, then abuse their social norms by wearing religion on our sleeves and when confronted seek shelter under their laws.
    Our habit of claiming that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance has become redundant because facts on the ground especially in Pakistan does not support this.Recommend

  • G. Din

    All Muslims should protest against this brazenly hateful speech by leaving US, starting from New York, at the soonest. That would teach “them”!
    As I said elsewhere: All Rohingyas are Muslims; All Muslims in non-Muslim lands are “Rohingyas”; All non-Muslims in those lands are “Myanmarese” and have similar sentiments for “Rohingyas”.Recommend

  • http://California Raj – USA

    @amit (India):
    You mention about hate literature in Pakistan in school text books in Pakistan. It would be interesting to note that reputed studies have confirmed that this hate literature has only increased and not decreased in the recent times. It only proves that someone is revising the text books to include more hate material as they are not satisfied with what was already existing. Here is the link to an earlier report by ET.
    http://tribune.com.pk/story/428876/school-curricula-hate-content-in-textbooks-has-increased-since-2009/Recommend

  • Umer

    @Author

    A member of the California Bar

    Surely you can sue MTA if they are doing anything illegal? Being an attorney you don’t even have to pay expensive legal fees. So why are you not doing it ?Recommend

  • pmbm

    @Allen Xie
    The referred quotes are not against all Jews or all Christians, only against those who do not follow or have distorted their own old scriptures. Translation by Muhammad Asad explains it better.He was a Jew by birth and becoming Rabbi before converting.Recommend

  • pmbm

    @westerner
    “Anti-semitism is rampant in Muslim societies.”
    Pre-Israel Mid-eastern and spanish history does not support above statement.
    On the contrary it more appropriately applies to Europe, where even after defeat of Nazis european Jews were not allowed to have a Jewish state in Europe, instead were encouraged to move to Middle East where they continue to behave as Europeans even after 60 years.Recommend

  • F

    In Pakistan:
    Is teaching of hate in history books hate language?
    Is preaching of hate in mosques, against all non-Muslims, hate?
    Is language, in the constitution, banning non-Muslims from high office hate?
    Is killing non-Muslims (and certain Muslims) act of hate?
    With so much “hate” in New York, wonder why the apostles of love keep coming to the big apple. Recommend

  • Toba Alu

    @Aamir – Toronto:

    Your question has an answer, but it cannot be given in writing, nor can we discuss about it in public in Pakistan. Simply because I or in this case ET runs the risk of being persecuted in some form or another. I don’t want to run for my life because of a philosophical debate. Many of comments have not been posted by ET in the past, not because they were in any sense, shape or form comparable with hate speech or discrimination, but rather I questioned what cannot be questioned in Pakistan. .

    Every person on the earth knows what hate speech is and what discrimination, racism or whatever, means. Civilized people abstain from it. Unfortunately, the world still harbors a lot of uncivilized people.Recommend

  • Anas Tanveer

    Dear Writer, Nice blog. But here just want to raise one point, i.e. here in Pakistan, how much love do we show to US by our words and actions? When we burn down the American flag or symbolic Omaba, or our so called religious traders set the crowd on one point agenda, Crush America and stuff. When we go on this track, are we in a position to complaint against such actions? It is the same way, we generalize the US govt actions to every citizen there, they do the same by generalizing the terrorism to all Muslims. We shoulld first correct ourselves then demand the same from them.Recommend

  • Think Please

    Co existence comes when the basic ideology followed is that of “acceptance of the other “with different views on culture, religious beliefs and every other aspect of life. Acceptance here does not mean simply “tolerating” a different view.When a society is founded on the basic ideology that ” we are different, we cannot be friends with non believers, the other person is not following a book correctly , so is a “kuffar”, My view and path to god is the only true way and you are wrong and will go to hell” then co existence and tolerance cannot be expected. The society will and is bound to remain in a constant state of conflict. There will always have to be some person, group or ideology to take the place of the “other” so as to provide a means to express the hate, intolerance and bigotry.Recommend

  • observer

    Dear Blogger,

    If we can live with people being termed ‘wajibul qatl’ on live television and being defined as second class citizens in the Constitution,at home. Then people can live with this abroad too.Recommend

  • observer

    Within days, activists had defaced almost all of the AFDI’s ads – expressing, ironically, their own freedom of expression which came at the cost of a spray paint can and a possible charge of disorderly conduct.

    Really? So silencing any voice that you do not agree with qualifies as ‘freedom of expression’. No wonder ISI is talking of the right of abduction and elimination on ‘moral grounds’.May be they should claim ‘freedom of expression with disorderly conduct’.

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/497309/missing-adiala-jail-inmates-spy-agencies-counsel-turns-to-moral-calculus/

    True freedom of expression, for any civilised person, would be to put up another poster supporting the Palestinians.

    But then, for that one has to be civilised.Recommend

  • Observer

    The problem is easily solved by taking the European (or north african) approach to the issue: Make a clear distinction between Islam/Muslims and Islamist political ideology. These posters are wrong since they target a community and foment hatred via a reductionist approach i.e. Islam is inherently bad and so are muslims. That plainly approaches a militant’s tekfir mentality. However, the Islamist ideology is a cancer and a growing number of muslims (less so in Pakistan unfortunately) are realizing this. A much needed secular revolution is coming to the muslim world and hopefully a bright future lies ahead. For Pakistan, it will still take a couple of generations of bloodshed and pain. Recommend

  • AHK

    @T: So they are using pens on Palestinians, Iraqis & Afghanis???Recommend

  • Pessimist

    Seriously, ET’s moderation policy is as effective as democracy is in Pakistan. One wonders what is acceptable to them and what is not….Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    The problem is with minutes and hours watch of ET, not with their policy is per say which is a moderate biased one.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Milestogo

    Good writing. Also lets add that the USA is reducing the number of visas and making it harder to immigrate -Recommend

  • Westerner

    @pmbm:

    You did not refute the claim that Antisemitism is so widespread and virulent in the Islamic world. You felt the need to go back in time and try to compensate the present day situation with the treatment of Jews by Muslim rule from a long time ago. One can argue that Jews were generally better treated by Muslims than Christians during the Middle Ages. But even in those days Jews were frequently persecuted, hate literature against Jews existed, and legal discrimination against Jews was institutionalized. However for that era, according to the standards then, Muslim treatment of minorities was better.
    But there is no comparison of dhimmis with secular Western democracies of today which treats its citizens (whether Jew or Muslims) equal and fairly as per law. Nor does pointing out to Islamic Spain somehow makes the anti-Jewish hatred in Islamic media and societies all oke.
    Your comment about European Jews coming to Israel, is the typical result of the same anti-Semitic media in Islamic countries, that makes all sorts of vilification against the Jews, ranging from Jews responsible for the bird flue to killing of Shia’s in Pakistan. If you had bothered to look it up, you would know the majority of Israeli Jews are not of European descent, but are Jews and their descendants that were kicked out and expelled from Arab countries in the 40′s, 50′s and 60′s.Recommend

  • Cynical

    @varuag

    A very pragmatic view indeed. Agree with every word of it.
    ‘I am in principle an absolutist when it comes to free speech, but am realistic enough to accept that India or the subcontinent is decades away from actually implementing the same, and rightly so.’
    While many of us are ready to compromise on our absolutist position and prepared to wait to allow the institutions and societies to evolve in a way that ‘free speech’ cease to be an issue of contention, the detractors on the other hand would bring all kinds of obscurantist argument against the very concept of freedom of expression. I hope in our preference for a gradual progression we don’t compromise on the fundamental right to freedom of idea that every human being is entitled to.
    The limits of free expression cannot be set by the sensitivities of people who don’t believe in it.Recommend

  • Mika

    Try questioning the holocaust and see how fast first amendment flies out of window.

    Shameful to see apoligist viewpoints from a Pakistani.Recommend

  • shocked (former) pakistani

    @Westerner

    The jews of Israel are hated in the muslim world because of the continuous massacre of palestineans they perpetrate. Even these ads in newyork, have been placed by the pro israeli jewish lobby. So its the other way round actually. Jews Killing the Muslims and Muslims merely hating the Jews.Recommend

  • Yuri Kondratyuk

    @pmbm:

    @westerner “Anti-semitism is rampant
    in Muslim societies.” Pre-Israel
    Mid-eastern and spanish history does
    not support above statement.

    What about the Jews of Medina and especially those of Banu Qurayza?Recommend

  • JOHN

    i know that muslims are the most peace loving people in the whole world. in muslim majority countries minorities are given the most respect,power and they have equal rights and minority places of worship are protected by the govt….it pains me that such a peace loving people who integrate in any society should be insulted like this. muslim religious leaders called mullas always preach non violence ,harmony are a model to every other religion. Recommend

  • Milestogo

    @Authir

    I like your revenge justice approach though. It’s very effective and highlights the peace message of Islam.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    @Allen Xie:
    I agree, judas who is accused by the christian church being responsible for the crucifiction of Christ was a muslim? Knowledge is a virtue, the jews and the arabs are both semites and cousins. This is the main reason for the jews to feel safe among their cousins in the middle east. What we observe in Israel about the Palestinians is nothing more than a cacophony.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Nobody

    @Vikas:
    I believe your question was answered by someone else on here. There is no difference between “us” and “them.” Muslims (not all, but some) use the sword in attempting to force their way on people; “civilized” folks use the pen (or find a damn good baloney excuse to use the sword i.e. Iraq war, total nonsense and based on a lie, just needed an excuse to do so. 9/11 provided that excuse). Neither is better than the other, nor more civilized (beyond a skin deep level). One is simply more obvious to everyone and ineffective at that.

    This will continue until people learn to live with each other. Sounds like an elementary statement taught to children when they’re old enough to talk, yet “grown ups” around the world have never learned how to actually do it. Shame. Recommend

  • Nobody

    @G. Din:
    Expressing your opinion without the generalizations lacking factual backing may make people take you more seriously. You do not know ALL Muslims in non Muslim lands and you do not know how they all think. For starters, you do not know me and you do not know how I think of myself in my home country (a non Muslim country). Kindly do not pretend you do.
    People who use sweeping generalizations about any religion/culture/race/etc are no different from the ignorant haters telling anyone anywhere to hate ALL Jews or ALL Hindus or ALL Christians or ALL humans different from you blah blah blah. Recommend

  • Allen

    Well,USA is our country.We can do as we please.If you have a problem why dont you just leave?Recommend

  • pmbm

    Moderator, why my 2 posts as answers to comments by western and yuri are not shown?Recommend

  • Anas Tanveer

    @ Allen, Brother, taking your point for justification, I want to ask you then what US is doing in Afghanistan, or did in Iraq, and Pakistan. And why do your eye brow raises when you hear something from Iran Nuclear development? Are not these countries have the same right as US has? If you have any problem with these countries, why dont you leave these countries? Why do you people controlling OPM trade in afghanistan? Why did your CIA agents like Ramond Davis got caught in action in Pakistan?

    This world is now a global village mate, and you have to give the same respect and space , you want/expect/demand from others. When Difah-e- Pakistan Council protest against your policies and US on whole, why do you people show your concerns? In return when we are concerened about the discrimination, where Blacks finally win their battle for the equal rights, and US has turned the tanks towards Islam?Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Allen: That was a knee-jerk, immature comment.Recommend

  • Sane

    Dear Mederator,

    Hate filled comments from Indians do not violate your MODERATION policy. But, when responded its comes under your Moderation.Recommend

  • shocked (former) pakistani

    @Yuri Kondratyuk

    The Jew of Madina and those of Banu Quraiza always had peace treaties entered with by the Muslims. The Prophet (saw) and the muslims always wanted peace with the Jews of Madina, but in return after entering into the peace treaties, the Jews of madinah conspired against the muslims and secretly broke those peace treaties. Because of the betrayal of Banu Quraiza, the muslims had to dig a trench around Madina to protect themselves. Many muslims were martyred due to the betrayal of Banu Quraiza. and interestingly the punishment given to them was according to their own holy book (the Torah)….Read full Islamic history, if you want to comment on it!!Recommend

  • observer

    @Mika:

    Try questioning the holocaust and see how fast first amendment flies out of window.

    Try it and find out for yourself.

    You are confusing Holocaust Denial laws of Germany with the First Amendment of USA. But then shooting first and aiming later is typical of Pakistani commentators.Recommend

  • Ibrahim Danish

    Its open season on Islam and Muslims as far as the west is concerned.
    Any form of Islamic charity even if it is helping orphans,widows and kids,is immediately termed as a ‘terrorist organization’ by the State Department.
    While all forms of western NGOs,some of whom are spying in the Muslim countries,are legal and must be allowed.
    In India,RSS and VHP have been found to plant bombs in mosques to kill Muslims.The US looks the other way and they are allowed to come to US and collect ‘donations’.
    This is the new world order.Recommend

  • Chris Robshaw

    This is free speech.

    The end.Recommend

  • Anas Tanveer

    @ Chris Robshaw, Brother, I admit your stance for a moment, then why is word “Niggar” not come under free speech there? Why can not you people let Julian A. Speak freely? Why is free speech term tempered as per your ease and interest? Recommend

  • Mika

    @observer:
    ADL is not German.Recommend

  • Allen

    @Anas Tanveer. We do it because we can and you cant stop it so what will you do?Recommend

  • John B

    Muslims are welcome to post a counter ad: support Jihad and hate Israel

    Why this ad should offend Muslims : after all it says defeat terrorism, defeat jihad and asking to support Israel.

    Other than asking to support Israel, muslims claim that they do not support terrorism or jihad; so what is the big issue here and how does the ad directly offends to Muslims or Islam?

    Outside of Queens mosque every Friday a zealot jihadi denounces US constitution and the US and says it is his right under freedom of expression. I never see any Muslims offended by that and in fact everyone going in and out of the mosque gives him a thumbs up.

    So, what am I missing here?Recommend

  • pmbm

    @westerner
    Creation of Israel has turned previous good relations between muslims and jews in middle east up side down and hostile.Recommend

  • afza siddiqui

    its a pity to see so many of our pakistani liberals ashamed of our own religion and culture.our so called liberals r getting more likes and applauses for pro-israel comments than pro-islam comments.i have been posting at various yahoo anti-muslim or anti islam articles just as an attempt to show that islam is not a hate religion but its so difficult to argue and convince our very own people about the brighter side of islam. ET followers include ppl from all across the world and 1 thing i know that even we dont discuss weak points of our family wd outsiders same goes for our country.if certain fractions nd jihadi groups claim that they r doing whatever in the name of islam then should this allow us to accuse islam rather then those culprits. Recommend