The entire country seems to be embroiled in a heated argument over the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York--and Chicago cab drivers are now involved.
Pamela Geller, who has been dubbed the "Queen of Muslim Bashers" and leads the "Stop the Islamization of America" movement, has purchased ads this summer on top of 25 Chicago cabs, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The ads in Chicago are reportedly directed toward Muslim women who are looking to leave Islam--and have anti-honor killing messages on them. From the Tribune:
Beside pictures of young women who were allegedly killed by their Muslim fathers for refusing an Islamic marriage, dating a non-Muslim or becoming "too Americanized" is the message: "Is your family threatening you?"
Though the placards appear to offer a haven for young women who want to leave Islam, critics contend the signs stoke fear among passengers and passers-by about the way an estimated half of the city's taxi drivers worship, and seek to suppress the religious liberty on which the nation was founded.
Geller claims the ads are not directed at Muslims in general but "directed at Muslim girls in trouble," but many people don't see it that way.
"We've tried to build a movement that respects others and to respect ourselves and work for our human rights," Fayez Khozindar, chairman of the United Taxi Drivers Community Council, told the Tribune. "This isn't right."
Jeff Feldman, president of Taxi Medallion Management, which manages Yellow Cab in Chicago, told the Tribune that drivers can request another cab or remove the sign if they are uncomfortable with it.
"I can see where moderate Muslim men would be upset by that type of ad," Feldman said. "It casts a terrible impression over all of Islam."
Meanwhile, Illinois politicians have had incredibly different opinions about the Islamic center--which Geller has also spent a lot of energy fighting.
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn came out against the location of the center last week. Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bill Brady made the wise choice of staying out of the matter, saying that "sensitive minds will deal with this in a sensible way." Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias said he supports the mosque site, citing religious freedom, while his Republican opponent Rep. Mark Kirk said the mosque should be moved to a "less controversial site." Mayor Daley wondered why people were upset about the mosque and not upset about the lack of a 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero, and Sen. Dick Durbin issued this statement:
"The mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, has given his assent to this center and I support his decision. . .The politicians like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin who try to divide America with fear and hate over this issue betray the diversity which makes our nation great and the Constitution which they profess to honor."
The Council on American Islamic Relations is considering legal action regarding the ads.
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