The group behind a provocative contest for cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that led to a deadly shooting in Texas earlier this month has submitted the winning image to run as an advertisement on Washington, D.C., public transportation.
The American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), a conservative group behind some controversial ad campaigns, wants to plaster the image of the Prophet Muhammad on the side of Metrobuses and in train stations.
Pamela Geller, founder of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, submitted the the winning cartoon from the “Draw Muhammad” event to the Washington, D.C., Transit Authority.
"There is nothing about this cartoon that incites violence. It is within the established American tradition of satire. If America surrenders on this point, the freedom of speech is a relic of history,” Geller said.
Metro riders News4 spoke with had mixed opinions about the idea.
"I know it is a First Amendment issue, but I also know pictures of the Prophet Muhammad are considered disrespectful to Muslims,” one rider said.
"The First Amendment is absolute,” another said.
"We are aware that an ad has been submitted,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said in a statement. “It is going through a review process and has not yet been approved for our system."
The American Freedom Defense Initiative has run controversial ads on subways and buses in other cities across the country as well — among them Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco. In 2012, they were able to get another poster deemed offensive to Muslims on D.C.’s Metro.
Geller and the group were in the news recently, when the nation's largest mass transit system voted to ban all political ads on New York City subways and buses, following the group's legal battle to display "Hamas Killing Jews" ads on buses.
The AFDI is listed as an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.