The head of a group that has won its fight to run controversial adverts in New York subway stations referring to some Muslims as “savage” has told Sky News that she will fight “to the death” for the right to offend people.
Pamela Geller runs the American Freedom Defence Initiative (AFDI), which has taken out ads that read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
The posters are due to appear in 10 New York City subway stations next week.
They were initially rejected by the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) because of the use of demeaning language.
But in July a Manhattan court judge ruled this was a violation of the first amendment rights of the AFDI and they should be allowed to run.
Ms Geller told Sky News that she was unconcerned the adverts might make the subway network a target for violence.
She said: “Were there similar ads on the London buses and trains on 7/7? You know there weren’t.
“I will not abridge my freedoms so as not to offend savages.
“I won’t take responsibility for other people being violent.
“I live in America and in America we have the first amendment.”
Ms Geller, who is a prominent supporter of Israel, stressed that she was not referring to all Muslims as savages, only those who engaged in what she characterises as “Jihad”.
She believes that America is under threat from some Muslims who wish to impose Sharia law on the country, and her group has launched similar campaigns before.
The release of the adverts coincides with widespread anger in parts of the Middle East over an anti-Muslim film made in the US and released on the internet.
Next week heads of state from all over the world will be converging on the city amid heightened security for the UN General Assembly.
The Washington DC MTA has deferred the placement of the controversial ads “out of concern for public safety, given current world events”.
But New York MTA Transportation spokesman Aaron Donovan said: “Our hands are tied.”
There had been some suggestions that the city’s transit body was trying to find a way to stop the adverts appearing.
However, another spokesperson for the MTA told Sky News it appeared the ads are definitely going ahead, although he was unable to say on which day, and at which subway stations.
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American Islamic Relations, told Sky News: “Our basic position is that the first amendment means that everyone is free to be a bigot or even an idiot like Pamela Geller.
“We wish she wasn’t provoking and inciting hatred, but in America that’s her right.
“We encourage Muslims to exercise the same right to publicly denounce such adverts.
“The real danger is the spread of hatred in our society, which can lead to attacks on innocent people.”