SEPTA won't appeal a judge's decision allowing controversial anti-Islamic ads featuring Adolf Hitler to be displayed on buses in the Philadelphia region.
The ad in question features a photograph of a 1941 meeting between Adolf Hitler and Hajj Amin al-Husseini, described by a pro-Israel group as a Palestinian leader and Hitler ally.
The bus ads carry a tagline saying: "Jew Hatred: It's in the Quran."
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“We understand that our decision to not file an appeal will be disappointing to those who will be forced to view the disparaging ads,” said SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey. “We are aware that the presence of the ads could anger the public, but caution that attempts to vandalize the ads or deface SEPTA vehicles will not be tolerated.”
The ads will appear on 84 separate buses throughout April, said SEPTA.
The Philadelphia Inquirer first reported the earlier ruling by U.S. District Judge Mitchell Goldberg.
The ads are produced by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a New Hampshire-based group that opposes U.S. aid to Islamic countries and has filed similar lawsuits in New York and other cities.
SEPTA General Counsel Gino J. Benedetti testified in December that he rejected the ad because he thought it "put every single Muslim in the same category (of) being a Jew hater."
Goldberg concluded that the transit authority's "anti-disparagement" policy, while well-intentioned, was not clearly defined and therefore potentially discriminatory. He noted that SEPTA has run viewpoint ads on public issues including animal cruelty, birth control, religion and fracking.
"It is clear that the anti-disparagement standard promulgated by SEPTA was a principled attempt to limit hurtful, disparaging advertisements. While certainly laudable, such aspirations do not, unfortunately, cure First Amendment violations," Goldberg wrote.
SEPTA said it regrets any discomfort the ads may cause and they asked that anyone with concerns or comment reach out online.