Faith Leaders Protest Anti-Muslim Bus Ads (Video)
Dozens of representatives from Montgomery County faith groups gathered on a corner near the Rockville Metro on Monday (June 9) to protest anti-Muslim ads posted on Metro buses.
The Montgomery County Faith Community Working Group, which unites the Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Sikh, Unitarian Universalist and Zoroastrian faith communities in Montgomery County, released a statement Monday morning announcing the protest and saying the group was “deeply saddened by the placement of anti-Muslim ads on buses owned and operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).”
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Speakers at Monday’s protest included Rev. Mansfield Kaseman, Interfaith Liaison with the County’s Office of Community Partnerships, Gonpo Yeshe of the KPC Buddhist Temple, and Inam Faizul Khan of the Islamic Center of the Washington Area.
“We’re responding to the ads in the larger context of knowing that hate groups are growing across the country,” said Kaseman, in an interview (see video above) following the protest.
“We exist to deepen understanding and appreciation for all the faith traditions in Montgomery County. We also exist to amplify the works towards justice on behalf of all the faith communities and to bring us together to celebrate that common sense of justice and we’re here today of course standing together in the power of love that we believe is far more powerful than the hate found in the bus ads,” he said.
The protest is in response to anti-Muslim ads run by the American Freedom Defense Initiative. The controversy started in 2012 when the group attempted to buy ads on Metro buses and was denied by WMATA, according to a report by ABC News affiliate WJLA.
The group sued WMATA and a Federal judge later ruled that denying the group the opportunity to post the ads was a violation of the First Amendment and were later required to allow the group to post their ads on buses and in subway stations.
The most recent ad purchased by the group and posted on buses in May prompted the County’s faith groups to respond with Monday’s protest.
In case you are wondering, the bus ads are scheduled to run for a month, according to a report by WJLA.
See photos from the protest below: