San Francisco: A row has erupted in San Francisco after political ads appeared on city buses on Monday, carrying what many described as anti-Islamic, racist messages targeting Arabs and Muslims.
But rather than seek to bar San Francisco`s transit agency from accepting the paid ads and risk a court fight over free speech rights, city officials said they would instead mount a public service campaign preaching tolerance and peace.
The political ads which the buses started carrying yesterday were paid for by the American Freedom Defence Initiative (AFDI).
Last year too, AFDI had led a campaign in San Francisco and New York that described the Arab-Israeli conflict as a war "between the civilized man and the savage."
"Support the civilized man," those ads implored. "Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."
The latest series of ads, posted on San Francisco`s so-called Muni buses, picture such figures as al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and convicted Times Square would-be car bomber Faisal Shahzad with quotes that essentially equate the Islamic concept of jihad, or holy struggle, with militant violence, reports a leading news agency.
(With Agency inputs)