Grassroots Group Readies Campaign to Counter Anti-Muslim Subway Ads

One New Yorker calls on his neighbors to talk back to hate.

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There’s a new voice in the controversy over anti-Muslim ads in New York City subway stations, and it sends a loud message.

Talk Back to Hate aims to bring New Yorkers together to respond to the American Freedom Defense Initiative–sponsored ads, which are currently next to the clocks in 39 subway stations and feature images of the World Trade Center’s twin towers burning, overlaid by a quote attributed to the Koran.

When Akiva Freidlin, 30, saw the first round of AFDI ads in September, he wasn’t sure what to do. The shocking ads, which likened Muslims to savages, upset many New Yorkers. When he heard that the group and its executive director, Pamela Geller, planned a new crop spanning many more stations, he thought, Hey, anyone can buy an ad.

(MORE: Anti-Muslim Ads Return to NYC Subways)

He started a Talk Back to Hate account on Twitter, a Facebook page and a campaign through Indiegogo, an online funding platform similar to Kickstarter, to raise $7,500 — enough money to buy ads in 10 subway stations. The campaign, which went live Jan. 8, needs $1,440 to reach their initial goal and tell New Yorkers, “Don’t let hate get the last word.” After that, Freidlin hopes to raise additional funds to put up more ads.

“It seems like these ads in particular, by preying on people’s grief and anger over 9/11 and really attacking a particular religious group, just really violate some of the basic communal norms in New York City,” Freidlin told TIME. “Though we’ve certainly had our history of conflicts, people do generally try to get along with one another.”

Freidlin has lived in New York City for eight years. Before, he lived with his Conservative Jewish family in small towns where, he says, he got used to being in the minority. He says he loves New York City because “this is a place for everyone and anyone.” New Yorkers, or anyone else, shouldn’t promote hate and fear of a select few, especially in the hallowed, subterranean halls of the subway.

“I love that it’s a place where people interact,” Freidlin says. “Though sometimes those people are crazy people that you’re interacting with.”

MORE: Controversy Escalates over Anti-Islam Metro Ads

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Hate is corrosive, of course. Sadly, there is too much hate even between Muslims of different beliefs. Women especially need a voice--and full equal rights that rival men's!

For example, I recently published a novel (available at Amazon and on Kindle), "The Prophetess of Islam." It is *fiction* but it is favorable and encouraging to Muslim women! Unfortunately, some Muslims have taken issue with the fact my main character is woman (and lesbian). They also are shocked a woman has been approached in person, by Allah via the angel Gabriel and Prophet Muhammad, to change (i.e. improve) the way Islam treats women. My heroine proclaims modern Islam is not what Allah intended when it was founded millennia ago. Sadly, I have received hate comments from a video I created for the book (

All Muslims need to get along--among themselves and with the world. Finally, I hope Pakistan's young MalalaYousufzai receives the Nobel Peace Prize! Getting shot in the head (Taliban) for daring to expect girls should get an equal education? That is barbaric. Internationally, the whole Muslim whole should be crying out against the Taliban and other tribal area backward thinking.


. Why can't start a new beginning?.. instead of looking back in the past history u cant change the past but u can change the present and future.. lets just forgive and forget and move on. It is just only one planet that we got. No matter what we have to live together in this provided planet. "Love for all Hatred for None" from Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at


Peace cannot be made with any Arab entity unless they stop the anti-Semitic propaganda.

Imagine distributing books or TV shows which denigrate, ridicule or defame African-Americans. Would the U.S. not deal with this before giving billions of dollars to this kind of country?

The Iron Dome of Ignorance and Propaganda is stronger than any defensive system and fouls the minds of millions of People throughout Arab lands against jews—not just Zionists.

Anti-Semitic propaganda flows like water through Egyptian and Palestinian curriculum from kindergarten through university as well as the media.

Egypt printed the Arabic version based on the 1905 Russian forgery, "Protocols of The Elders of Zion" showing a world Jewish (not Zionist) conspiracy. This fabrication has been read and continues to be read in every Arab country.

Egypt created a TV mini-series of the old blood libel of Jews using human blood for baking matzosshowing in horrendous graphic detail the bloody murder of an Arab boy. View an excerpt from this horrible TV series at

This "show" appears throughout the Arab world and did—and does—its job in creating hatred of Jews (not Zionists).

Nazi-type Palestinian indoctrination of children and adults against Jews (not Zionists) can be seen here:

Ceasing this Arab anti-Semitic propaganda would be a good beginning for Egypt to help in negotiating a lasting peace between Gaza, Arabs, and Israel.

* A few years back, Sheik Tantawi — then possibly the most influential religious leader in Sunni Islam and honored in many Western circles as a moderate — also denounced the Jews as “the enemies of Allah, the descendants of apes and pigs.” (He’s an expert of sorts; his doctoral dissertation was devoted to identifying the unflattering traits of Jews.)

* The Hamas charter incorporates verbatim sections from Hitler’s old favorite, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a forgery produced in late 1800s by the Czarist secret police.

* Mahmoud Abbas, the “moderate” Palestinian Authority leader, once penned a thesis arguing that Jews — for political purposes — deliberately inflated the Holocaust death toll from 1 million to 6 million.

* When Malaysia’s former prime minister, Mohammad Mahathir, denounced Jews in vile terms at a conference of top world Muslim leaders, he got a standing ovation and not one word of protest.

* Iran hosts an annual Holocaust-denial conference.

* And Saudi-sponsored educational materials loaded with Jew-hatred are distributed worldwide, including at some schools and mosques in the United States, Britain and other Western countries.

Pew Foundation polls have shown that — when asked whether they had a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable opinion of Jews — 99 percent of Jordanians and Lebanese said very unfavorable. In Morocco, 88 percent said either very or somewhat unfavorable; in Pakistan 74 percent, Indonesia: 76 percent.

Jürgen_Hubert 2 Like

@ThomMcCann It would certainly help peace if people stopped anti-Arab propaganda as well...

@Jürgen_Hubert "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Happy Martin Luther King Day.

readerfromnyc 1 Like

This campaign makes me proud to be a New Yorker. Thank you. I hope once the ads go up, the message will be projected far beyond NYC.