Montgomery County's Human Rights Commission is the latest group to condemn what it calls "hateful rhetoric" in a set of controversial ads placed inside the Metro system.
The ads from the American Freedom Defense Initiative went up in the Metro system on Oct. 8 after a federal court ruled the transit agency could no longer delay posting them under the First Amendment. The ads read: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. SupportIsrael. Defeat Jihad.'" The four ads were posted on train platforms along the Red and Yellow/Green lines, including one in Montgomery County's Glenmont station.
"Although the Courts have found that this is protected political speech, realistically, when it is read as a reasonable person would read it, the AFDI ad plainly depicts Muslims - the primary adherents to this tenet of Islam - as 'savages," the county commission said in a statement released Wednesday. "This demeaning of a group of people based on religion or national origin and ancestry, is hateful and reprehensible. It does nothing to promote dialogue and, in fact, has the opposite effect."
The ad has spawned various other responses, from informal makeovers with Post-It notes and stickers to two formal ad campaigns. Petitions have been started and a congressman and others have called for a boycott of Metro.
But one of those responses has prompted the American Freedom Defense Initiative to say it was launching a counter-counter ad campaign.
In response to the controversy, Metro has said it is adding disclaimers to all new "viewpoint" ads.