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BREAKING: AFDI WINS FREE SPEECH BATTLE IN NYC: MOTION ‘GRANTED’

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Another huge AFDI victory for freedom and individual rights. The ruling came down this morning. The Judge came down on our side on every point, upholding the Constitution and beating back sharia restrictions on free speech.

Bravo Judge John Koeltl

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled in our favor on our  motion for a preliminary injunction, which asked the court to enter an order requiring New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to run a “Hamas Killing Jews” advertisement on MTA buses.

Money quote in the ruling:

“The defendants’ theory is thoroughly unpersuasive.”

“The defendants contend that the advertisement could be read as urging a subset of Islamic extremists to follow Hamas’s command, but if that group is as violent and radicalized as the defendants contend, presumably they would not need a bus advertisement to remind them of Hamas’s interpretation of the Quran.”

Indeed.

Both the balance of equities and the public interest in this case favor granting the preliminary injunction for the plaintiffs. “[S]ecuring First Amendment rights is in the public interest.”

The Judge so granted it. And it was good.

Enormous thanks our legal warriors  David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center.

If you missed my coverage of the hearings, go here.

The advertisement qualifies as protected speech, and the defendants have restricted it based on its content without a compelling interest or a response narrowly tailored to achieving any such interest. Accordingly, the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction is granted.

Read the court opinion here. Court Opinion

pamela geller hamas ad

The motion was part of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), Pamela Geller, and Robert Spencer after the MTA refused to run the following ad:
MTA’s rejection was based upon its “security assessment,” fearing that some New Yorkers (presumably Muslims) would likely take the Hamas quote to kill Jews as a religious instruction and thus engage in imminent violence.  However, as the MTA acknowledges, this same ad ran in Chicago and San Francisco without incident.

And the Judge noted the same thing.

Court Opinion: AFDI vs MTA, Free Speech Win

AFDI intended the Killing Jews ad as a parodic response to the “My Jihad” ad campaign carried out in 2012 and 2013 by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (“CAIR”), a Muslim civil rights advocacy organization. Rosen Decl. ¶ 68; Geller Decl.
¶ 21. CAIR initiated the “My Jihad” campaign in response to AFDI’s “Savages” ad. Rosen Decl. ¶ 63. The “My Jihad” campaign sought to portray the Islamic concept of lesser jihad, or individual and personal struggle, by depicting Muslim individuals with positive messages. Rosen Decl. ¶ 62. One typical ad states, “‘#MyJihad is to build friendships across the aisle.’ What’s yours?” Rosen Decl. ¶ 60. The CAIR ads ran in public transit systems in Chicago and San Francisco in early 2013, but never ran in New York because of CAIR’s disagreement with the MTA over the MTA’s insistence on the inclusion of its disclaimer. Rosen Decl. ¶ 65-68. The AFDI, in turn, sought to counter the CAIR ads with the Killing Jews ad, among others, which all depict Islamic extremist quotes or acts of violence or terrorism and then mimick, “That’s #My Jihad. What’s yours?” Rosen Decl. ¶¶ 68-69.

Diaz was aware of the AFDI’s intention at the time of his security assessment and acknowledged it in his letter to the MTA Chairman. Diaz Decl. Ex. 1. However, he wrote in the letter that “what matters is not AFDI’s intent, but how the ad would be interpreted.”

Apparently MTA security top dog is very afraid of Jew-hating jihadis.

Diaz concluded that the quote depicted from Hamas MTV, “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah,” followed by “That’s his Jihad. What’s yours?” would be interpreted as “urg[ing] Muslims to kill or attack Jews as a religious obligation,” and thus would be likely to provoke violence

Mind you, the NYPD refused to  to offer an official opinion on the ad when asked.

At the hearing, Diaz explained his conclusion in more detail. Diaz suggested that the ad’s advocacy towards violence principally came from the line, “What is yours?”, which he stated could be read as a “call to violence.” Tr. 82, 83, 87. Diaz testified that the likelihood of incitement was “hard to quantify” in percentages, Tr. 72, but that in the case of this ad, there are “easily radicalized” people committing violent acts “almost on a daily basis throughout the world,” and that the ad could cause such people to act violently.

Does Obama know this?

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  • david wilson

    I think she’s fantastic this host of ours.

    • Nathan

      +1

      So do I !

      To say ‘our speech is so hateful, it might make people kill’ and then use it as a defence against telling anybody about it is quite laughable…. but it’s not funny.

      • Sunflowers

        Our speech is hopeful, however anyone could think to would make people kill is so ridiculous. Now to say Muslims killing Christians is a fact, something so odious I cannot understand. This is where I as a Christian will not turn my cheek. The boats filled with Muslim men must be turned back in the Mediterarean. All young Muslim men, who are they? 170,000 Muslims of an age. 18_40. Men. Hardly any kids, a few pregnant women. All of those young Muslim men are the landing crew, claiming benefits and waiting. As the yhave been for 50 years. Perhaps Britons, would once more have a sense of pride and stop the invasion. Thee is only one way to stop it. Vote UKIP in May, otherwise the foremer political parties you always voted for in the past will just continue doing the same.

        • Lia

          I am not British & do not live in GB, but have been following political events closely. Sunflowers, you are so right: vote UKIP!

    • Petrilla

      I cannot think of any other American who joyfully stands up for Liberty, every day, well OK, maybe 5, but Pam Geller is it. Thanks.

  • cmh

    Congratulations Pam, AFDI, and the legal team ….it should not have even gone this far, why do Americans have to go to court to be allowed free speech? I guess the next move by transit bigwigs will be to simply disallow political or religious ads period.

    • jahpdq

      Because free speech is only for people who think they’re “progressive”. Desecration of the flag, for example, was finally accepted as a form of “speech” and a symbol of “protest” according to progressives. Now, they arrest people for protesting the protesters.

  • 426 HemiCuda
  • Commieobamie

    E X C E L L E N T !!!

  • Walter Sieruk

    This A.F.D.I victory for free speech is a very good thing. We may all be sure that this success would not have been possible if was not that the A.F.D.I. team had much conviction and fortitude. As Thomas Jefferson has so well stated “A conviction that we are right accomplishes half the difficulty of correction wrong.” Likewise , Mr. Jefferson has also declared “Fortitude teaches us to meet and surmount difficulties ;not to fly from them.”

  • jahpdq

    What a nice victory. It seems strange indeed that in this day and age, federal courts need to get involved to determine that quoting someone verbatim is permissible under the First Amendment.

    • Sunflowers

      I am still so annoyed that in London, land of Magna Carts, Paul Weston of Liberty GB , was arrested for quoting the words of Winston Churchill, who did save us from tyranny.

  • Proud Kafir

    Congratulations !!! Few ppl may cry ….

  • Sunflowers

    Congratulations on so many levels. Makes me think of the arrest of Paul Weston for quoting Churchill in London who got arrested. Thank you for always going to the end of the argument, without fail. How brave you are , no mere thanks are enough.

  • Lia

    Proud of you and of the aw, Judge Koeltl!

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