Judge: ‘The Muslims Are Coming!’ ads must run in NY subways

Court says MTA must display promotional materials for film; rules against ‘utterly unreasonable’ ban

Illustrative photo of an MTA subway cart in New York City (Courtesy of Metropolitan Transportation Authority)
Illustrative photo of an MTA subway cart in New York City (Courtesy of Metropolitan Transportation Authority)

NEW YORK — New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority must run advertisements promoting a film called “The Muslims Are Coming!” in subways, a federal judge ruled.

US District Judge Colleen McMahon’s decision on Wednesday countered an MTA policy instituted in April that had banned political ads from subways and buses after an anti-Islamic ad by Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative caused controversy.

The ads promoting “The Muslims Are Coming!” contain phrases such as “The Ugly Truth About Muslims: Muslims have great frittata recipes” and “Those Terrorists Are All Nutjobs,” with the word “nutjobs” replacing the word “Muslims,” which is crossed out, Reuters reported.

“An arbitrary conclusion by some official at the MTA, untethered to any articulated or articulable standard, that an advertisement including the word ‘Muslims’ is political, is utterly unreasonable,” McMahon wrote in her opinion.

The film, which was released in 2013, chronicles a team of Muslim-American comedians who challenge stereotypes perpetuated by Islamophobia. It contains commentary from figures such as Jon Stewart, Lewis Black and Rachel Maddow. The directors are Iranian-American comedian Negin Farsad and Palestinian-American comedian Dean Obeidallah.

The MTA resolved on April 29 to ban political ads after the American Freedom Defense Initiative attempted to run an ad that said “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah.” A federal judge had ruled a week earlier that the MTA had to run the ad under the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.

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