CAIR-Philadelphia Condemns Bigoted Anti-Muslim Ads on SEPTA Buses, Urges SEPTA to Donate Money from Ads to City’s Homeless Population

CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Jacob Bender and Staff Attorney Ryan Tack-Hooper are available for media interviews about the response of the Philadelphia Muslim community to the anti-Muslim ads that will begin running this week on SEPTA buses. Call 267-515-6711 or 267-515-6712 or email info@philadelphia.cair.com to arrange an immediate interview.

“These ads are despicable and false, but fall under First Amendment protections,” Jacob Bender, CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director said. “The people behind these ads are part of a well-funded nation-wide Islamophobic campaign pushing a clearly hate-inspired message on the citizens of our fair city. One can only imagine the revulsion that tens of thousands of Muslim citizens will feel getting onto SEPTA buses.”

“The First Amendment protects everyone, the hateful and the loving alike,” according to Staff Attorney Ryan Tack-Hooper. “Instead of suppressing dishonest and offensive speech, the American tradition is to respond with speech of our own. You can be sure we will.”

CAIR-Philadelphia is asking SEPTA to donate the money they have received from the sponsors of these spiteful ads to organizations serving the city’s homeless population, thus turning hate into an action of charity and love.

Beginning this week, members and staff of CAIR-Philadelphia will also be distributing leaflets to SEPTA riders countering the message of hate on the buses with information about Islam and the Muslim community.

CAIR-Philadelphia believes it is better to expose ignorance to the light of reason than to try to keep it in the shadows. For the thousands of Philadelphians who are Muslims, or who have Muslim friends and neighbors, these ads are a reminder that this kind of open bigotry — directed in America’s past against African and Native Americans, and against Jewish, Chinese, Irish and Catholic immigrants — still exists. Today, it is the Muslim who is “the Other,” “the Foreigner,” and the target of nativist intolerance. These ads, which have also appeared in Washington D.C., New York City, and San Francisco, are stark evidence of the need to organize and finance efforts to counter this hate and to build bridges among America’s faith communities.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Jacob Bender (267) 515-6711, jbender@cair.com; CAIR Staff Attorney Ryan Tack-Hooper, (267) 515-6712, rtack-hooper@cair.com.

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