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Religious Tolerance logo

Proposed Muslim community center near 9/11's "ground zero"

2010-AUG: Freedom Defense
bus advertisement:

Sponsored link.

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Freedom Defense Initiative transit advertisement:

Freedom Defense Initiative (FDI) is a new organization created by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. Its stated objective is:

"... to go on the offensive when legal, academic, legislative, cultural, sociological, and political actions are taken to dismantle our basic freedoms and values."

"FDI acts against the treason being committed by national, state, and local government officials, the mainstream media, and others in their capitulation to the global jihad and Islamic supremacism, the ever-encroaching and unconstitutional power of the federal government, and the rapidly moving attempts to impose socialism and Marxism upon the American people." 1

Perhaps their main project to date has been "to go on the offensive" and attempt to "dismantle our basic freedoms and values," including the private ownership of property, religious freedom, and religious expression.

They attempted to place the following advertisement on New York City transit vehicles to oppose the right of the Park51 group to build a community center. Apparently, they were initially rejected because they had to take the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to court to have the ads placed.

Unsponsored banner ad.

AFDI banne ad

Ken Wheaton posted a comment on Advertising Age's web site about the ad:

"I didn't expect the debate over the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero in New York to go away any time soon, but I was hoping it would carry on over there, well outside the world of advertising. But, no. After the anti-mosque crowd suffered the latest defeat because the Constitution can't be any clearer regarding the subject of governmental interference with religion, they've responded with ads." 3

A spokesperson for the MTA said:

"While the MTA does not endorse the views expressed in this or other ads that appear on the transit system, the advertisement...was accepted today after its review under MTA’s advertising guidelines and governing legal standards." 4

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Sponsored link:
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Analysis of the ad:

Bus advertisement

On the left side of the ad is an accurate image of the south tower of the World Trade Center, partly obscured with smoke coming from the north tower fire. The United Airlines flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles is shown banked to the left just before it crashed into the tower.

On the right side is the artist's impression of what the Park51 community center might look like. It is shown with the Islamic symbol of a crescent moon and star.

Inaccuracies in the ad:

  • The ad portrays the south tower and community center as similar in height. In reality, the twin towers were 110 stories high, whereas the community center is planned to be 13 stories, less than 1/8th of the height of the former tower.

  • The ad seems to imply that "ground zero" extends all the way from the twin tower to the proposed community center. In fact, "ground zero" refers to the area once occupied by the twin towers.

  • The ad implies that there is nothing but a narrow vacant space between the location of the twin tower and community center. In fact, they are separated by the equivalent of six city blocks and there are many existing buildings between the two locations.

  • The Park51 building is described as a "Mega Mosque." In reality it would be a 13 floor community center in which a prayer room, which meets the Islamic definition of a mosque, would occupy part of one floor.

  • The ad seems to imply that one could view the entire ground zero area from any point on the proposed community center. In fact, ground zero would not be visible from any part of the community center because of intervening existing buildings.

  • Perhaps the most inflammatory aspect of the ad is the suggestion that the community center is to be opened on 2011-SEP-11, the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attack. This is a widely held belief circulated by individuals and groups opposed to the community center. However we have never been able to dig up any indication that the Park51 group is planning to open the center on that date. It seems most improbable that the group could have the building completely designed, the 75 to 150 million dollars in donations collected, and the building constructed within less than 13 months.

The ad contains a link to the Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) website. 5 Pamela "Atlas" Geller is the executive director of both the FDI and SIOA, as well as being the founder, editor and publisher of Atlas 6 They describe themselves as:

"... a human rights organization dedicated to freedom of speech, religious liberty, and individual rights; no special rights for special classes." 5

In spite of their stated goals, their main projects appear to be opposed to human rights. They are dedicated to reducing the freedom of speech, religious liberty, and individual rights of Muslims, while working towards "special rights for special classes" -- namely for Christians and Jews.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "About Us," Freedom Defense Initiative, undated, at:
  2. "N.Y. bus ad showing mosque, burning WTC towers OK'd," 2010-AUG-09, at:
  3. Ken Wheaton, "Advertising Gets Dragged Into Ground Zero Mosque Debate. Free Speech Takes on Freedom of Religion in Constitutional Grudge Match," Advertising Age, 2010-AUG-10, at:
  4. Bruce Golding & Tom Namaki, "MTA approves bus ads opposing Ground Zero mosque," New York Post, 2010-AUG-09, at:
  5. Pamela Geller, "About Us," Atlas Shrugs, at:
  6. The home page of Atlas Shrugs blog is at:

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Copyright © 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2010-JUL-27
Latest update: 2010-AUG-26
Author: B.A. Robinson

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