District Attorney, Board President Chiu, and City Leaders Denounce Islamophobic MUNI Ads

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 11, 2013

Contact: Stephanie Ong Stillman, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1167 or (415) 740-5134
ADA Alex Bastian, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1931

SAN FRANCISO - Today, District Attorney George Gascón, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, and Supervisors John Avalos, London Breed, Malia Cohen, Jane Kim, Scott Wiener, Norman Yee held a press conference to denounce Islamophobic and racist advertisements by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) scheduled to run on MUNI buses today.

“These offensive ads serve no other purpose than to denigrate our city’s Arab and Muslim communities,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “When any community in San Francisco is attacked, it affects all of us. I and the city leaders standing with me today are exercising our free speech rights in condemning these ads and standing with the Arab and Muslim communities of San Francisco.”

"Hate has no place in our City," said Mayor Ed Lee. "San Francisco is a city that celebrates its diversity, and hateful speech and discrimination against our Arab and Muslim communities will never be tolerated."

“Our respect for free speech does not mean we allow hateful speech to go unchallenged,” said Board President David Chiu. “As a former civil rights attorney, I’m proud to stand with our Arab and Muslim American families to send a united message that San Francisco embraces diversity and tolerance, not hate and bigotry.”

AFDI’s founder Pamela Geller has been deemed an anti-Muslim hate extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In August of 2012, San Franciscans were outraged over AFDI advertisements on MUNI that referred to Arabs and Muslims as “savages.” Arab and Muslim community leaders say the new advertisements are even more offensive as they wrongly suggest that all Muslims are defined by extremism and violence, and baselessly target Arab and Muslim San Franciscans who make invaluable contributions to the city’s life and culture.

Supervisor David Chiu is introducing a resolution to condemn the Islamophobic and racist MUNI Ads at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. In response, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority will dedicate the proceeds from the offensive advertisements to fund a city-wide study on the impact of discrimination on Arab and Muslim communities. City leaders have met with Council on American-Islamic Relations - San Francisco Bay Area, Asian Law Caucus, the Ramallah Club, the Arab Cultural Center, churches and mosques to discuss targeting of vulnerable communities and the city’s commitment to protecting and standing with those communities.
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