Posted by on March 13, 2013 in Blog

By Jennine Vari

Spring 2013 Intern

Pamela Geller and the American Freedom Defense Initiative gained national press coverage last October with the launch of Islamophobic subway ads in New York City and Washington, DC. The slanderous ads, which referred to Muslims as “savages” and featured pictures of the burning Twin Towers, were decried by Muslim and Arab activists and advocacy groups around the country.

One of the most recent ad campaigns in NYC to take on Geller’s hate speech is “Talk Back to Hate,” a grassroots campaign started by Akiva Freidlin. The posters placed in NYC subways feature arms embracing an apple and the slogan, “Hatred is easy, it’s love that requires true strength and courage.” The design was chosen from various donor submissions on Talk Back to Hate’s website

In an interview, Freidlin told Think Progress, “I started the project because, like many people I’ve spoken to, these ads feel like an attack on our most basic communal values.” Freidlin, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, started the initiative to combat the ads because they “exploit grief and anger, and they demonize and intimidate members of a particular religious group... Everyone has a right to feel at home in this city, and that includes our Muslim neighbors.”

Currently, there are 10 ads around NYC, including Rockefeller Center and Times Square. But since the project is not backed by a nonprofit or any organization, it relies solely on donations to finance its campaign. Freidlin and his team are now raising money for a second round of ads. Contributors can vote to choose the next ad design and message and those who contribute more than $25 can submit their own message idea.

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