Advertisements on New York buses offering help to Muslims who wish to leave
Islam have been denounced as a "smoke screen for anti-Muslim bigotry".
The advertisements – paid for by conservative activists – ask readers:
"Leaving Islam? Fatwa on your head? Is your family threatening you?" The adverts
point to a website called RefugefromIslam.com.
Pamela Geller, who leads an organisation called Stop Islamization of America,
said the adverts were designed to help provide resources for Muslims who were
fearful of leaving the faith. She said the adverts, which will run on 30 city
buses for a month, cost $8,000 (£5,500), which was contributed by the readers of
her blog, Atlas Shrugs, and other websites.
"It's not offensive to Muslims, it's religious freedom," she said. "It's not
targeted at practising Muslims. It doesn't say 'leave,' it says 'leaving' with a
Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials said Ms Geller's advert had
been reviewed and did not violate the agency's guidelines.
But Faiza Ali, of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic
Relations, said the ads were based on a false premise that people face coercion
to remain with Islam. She said Muslims believe faith that is forced is not true
"Geller is free to say what she likes just as concerned community members are
free to criticize her motives," Ali said.
Ms Geller has a history of speaking out against Muslims, and the ads are "a
smoke screen to advance her long-standing history of anti-Muslim bigotry," Ms
Similar posters have run on buses in Miami, and she said adverts were planned
for other US cities.
Ms Geller said she had "no problem" with Muslims, but was working to
"maintain the separation of mosque and state". She is also among those speaking
out against the building of a mosque and cultural centre near Ground Zero in New
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