Dar Al-Ifta, Egypt’s most prominent religious authority issuing fatwas (religious edicts), issued a statement Tuesday against a “racist” US poster campaign on public transport criticising Islam.
The controversial posters on buses in Philadelphia show a 1941 photograph of Adolf Hitler meeting wartime Jerusalem mufti Haj Amin Al-Husseini, a known supporter of Nazism. The posters state “Jew Hatred: It’s in the Quran”. The posters also call on the US government to “end all aid to Islamic countries”.
The Dar Al-Ifta statement on the posters said that such campaigns spread prejudice, hatred and conflict in the US, and portray Islam incorrectly. It is estimated that in 2010, there were 2.6 million Muslims in the US.
Dar Al-Ifta continued that failing to respect Muslims in the US and abroad would destroy efforts to spread the culture of peace and coexistence, and marginalise Muslims from integrating into American society.
The adverts were funded by the pro-Israeli American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), and have previously been displayed on public transport in other US cities, including New York, San Francisco and Washington DC.
Whilst the campaign was first announced in 2014, it was halted due to a court case. However, a federal judge approved the adverts on the grounds of freedom of speech. The south-eastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Septa), whose vehicles carry the ads, have distanced themselves from the message.
“Septa does not – and I repeat – does not endorse or support the views expressed in these ads,” board chair Pat Deon stated. The poster space is reported to have cost $30,000, but Septa claims to have spent $100,000 in legal fees attempting to prevent their launch.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter attended a rally against the ads earlier in March, and religious leaders encouraged unity and peaceful protest. He told the crowd that “Philadelphia is a city of hope” and has a history of tolerance.
The Jewish Voices for Peace group in Philadelphia stated: “The ugly message of… [the campaign] advertisement is factually inaccurate and offensive in its misuse and trivialisation of Holocaust memory.”