Bus Ad Opposing WTC Mosque Shows Burning Twin Towers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    New York City's transit agency has approved a bus advertisement that objects to a planned mosque near ground zero and that depicts a plane flying toward the World Trade Center towers.

    The ads are expected to be seen on NYC buses this week.

    The ad was paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an organization that opposes radical Islamic influence in the United States. The group's executive director says she doesn't find the advertisement offensive.

    The group sued the MTA to demand it accept the advertisement, which was approved Monday. MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz says the agency doesn't endorse the advertisement's views.

    The plan for a mosque just blocks from the World Trade Center site has ignited a national debate about the limits of tolerance and the symbolism of ground zero.

    Three versions of the ad were rejected by the MTA.

    The first ad included an image of the 9-11 attack: the twin towers, smoke, flames, and an airplane going towards the towers. When this was first rejected, CBS Outdoor told Geller that "images of 911 were not allowed." The reasoning floored Geller, prompting her to question "On what grounds are 911 images banned? What about Pearl Harbor? Is that censored too?"

    She was told to remove the plane from the image.

    She requested CBS/MTA guidelines for the censorship--but never got them.

    Geller still complied, and removed the plane.

    She was rejected again. She was requested to remove the smoke. A CBS Outdoor representative explained that the MTA "doesn't want to associate the new building with Ground Zero..the people behind the new building say it has nothing to do with Ground Zero."

    But Geller differed. She has the people behind the building on record repeating that they want the mosque there for "Ground Zero healing and outreach."

    Still, Geller removed the smoke and the flames but put an airplane at a distance away from the towers in the third ad submitted. It was still rejected.

    The fourth and final ad, with just the World Trade Center towers, was finally approved last week.

    A Spokesman for the MTA said they saw the ad for the first time Friday. It was reviewed, never rejected, and approved on Monday, the next business day.

    "While the MTA does not endorse the views expressed in this or other ads that appear on the transit system, the advertisement purchased by a group opposing a planned mosque near the World Trade Center was accepted today after its review under MTA’s advertising guidelines and governing legal standards."