SEPTA may appeal decision to allow controversial ads

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SEPTA has 30 days to appeal a federal judge's ruling that ordered Philadelphia's transit system to put controversial ads on its buses. (WPVI)

SEPTA has 30 days to appeal a federal judge's ruling that ordered Philadelphia's transit system to put controversial ads on its buses.

The ads include a photograph of Adolf Hitler and a former Arab leader.

That photograph is a sample of what SEPTA did not want have on the side of its vehicles.

It reads: "Islamic Jew-Hatred: It's in the Quran."

The 1941 photo is of Adolf Hitler with an Islamic scholar and Nazi collaborator.

SEPTA argued it violates a SEPTA standard prohibiting ads that disparage on the basis of race, religion, and seven other categories.

The organization behind the ad is the American Freedom Defense Initiative. The A.F.D.I. describes itself as a human rights group. Foes call it anti-Islamic.

Whatever the case, it argued SEPTA, a state agency, had no right to reject their message.

A Philadelphia Federal judge agreed.

We reached AFDI attorney Robert Muise via Skpe. He said his client's message is to be provocative.

Muise said, "To be thinking about these issues not within the frame of political correctness. To understand that there are certainly those Islamists in the Middle East are using the Quran to justify their violence against Jews, to justify violence against Christians."

Jacob Bender who points out he is Jewish, runs the local office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

While he describes AFDI's message as a smear, bender says, "As a civil rights organization dedicated to the first amendment we have no problem with the ruling."

The ads have already appeared in New York and San Francisco. Bender hopes if they appear here they will spark not fear, but outreach.

"For Americans to learn about their Muslim neighbors. For the Muslim community to reach out to Jews and Christians and Buddhists," Bender said.

SEPTA says it is disappointed by the ruling, but it respects the judge's decision. It is currently evaluating all its options. SEPTA has 30 days to decide if it wants to appeal.

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philly newsSEPTAcommercial adreligionUpper Darby Township
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