August 10th, 2010
06:16 PM ET

New York bus ad opposing planned ground zero mosque approved

From CNN's Julie Cannold:

An ad opposing a planned mosque near ground zero will soon appear on some New York City buses after getting the green light from the city's Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The controversial ad features a photo of one of the hijacked jets flying into the burning World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, along with a drawing of a high-rise building with an Islamic crescent and the label "WTC Mega Mosque." The ad, emblazoned with the words, "Why There?" was initially rejected by the transportation authority.

The group that created the ad, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, sued the authority last week for censorship and obstruction of free speech.

The transportation authority approved the ad on Monday and released a statement saying, "While the MTA does not endorse the views expressed in this or other ads that appear on the transit system, the ad...was accepted after its review under MTA's advertising guidelines and governing legal standards."

Pamela Geller, executive director of the group that created the ad, said, "It's an issue of free speech. I mean, what is the principle of free speech? It's to protect all ideas, not just the good ones, not just the ones that everybody likes, but all ideas."

Geller said the main message of the ad is to express concern with the choice of location for the proposed mosque, not to oppose mosques in general. As to controversy that the ad has generated, she said, "Why is there an issue with the actual image of the attack, but not of a 15-story mega-mosque looking down on ground zero? I don't understand that at all."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which supports the planned mosque, expressed concern over the motivation of the ad and the effect it will have.

CAIR released a statement saying, "While American Muslims support free expression, we maintain the right to question the motives of the group behind the bigoted bus ads opposing the planned community center near Ground Zero. Anti-Muslim fanatics...are exploiting the tragedy of 9/11 to spread hate and fear. That kind of divisive tactic is not only insensitive to New Yorkers, it risks threatening the safety of an entire religious minority."

According to the transportation authority, the ad, which cost $8,000 to place on buses, will appear on 26 buses and will run for four weeks, starting some time next week.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Houses of worship • Islam • Mosque • New York • United States

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    Sacred grounds should be shared by all religions, a house of interfaith worship could be built near the WTC. Statues of Moses,Jesus,and Mohammed can be displayed with a Minister,Rabbi, and Imam conducting services. There is no reason why Christians,Jews,or Muslims cannot pray at the same time in the same place. God is not deaf and he can hear every voice.

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    There have been 8 deaths attributable to Christians at abortion clinics in the U.S. over the last 20 years. Clearly a fringe problem of some crazy people.
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    Our leaders in government and the media must be diligent in reminding the public that “Muslim” is not synonymous with “Terrorist.” All Muslims are not terrorists, just as all Christians are not bombers of abortion clinics (i.e., terrorists). If some group wanted to build a terrorist tower to celebrate and practice terrorism near the site of 9/11, that would be offensive. However, building a mosque to celebrate and practice Islam, which has nothing to do with terrorism, is not offensive. Any true American patriot will understand and agree that anyone who upholds the true ideals of America, with freedom and justice for all, will cherish the right to build the mosque, and could never be offended by its presence.

    August 12, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.