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FBI’s bus ads taken down over Muslim/terrorist stereotyping


FBI’s bus ads taken down over Muslim/terrorist stereotyping

(Seattle Times)

After a wave of criticism from politicians, advocacy groups and the public, 46 bus ads featuring photos of wanted terrorists will be taken down within the next few weeks, officials said Tuesday.

The “Faces of Global Terrorism” ad was criticized for promoting stereotypes of Muslims and painting a broad brush against one group.

The ad is part of a campaign launched earlier this month by the Puget Sound Joint Terrorism Task Force for the U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice program. It features 16 photos of wanted terrorists sandwiched between the taglines “Faces of Global Terrorism” and “Stop a Terrorist. Save Lives. Up to $25 Million Reward.”

Titan, the company that handles King County Metro bus advertising, received a request Tuesday afternoon from the task force that the ads be taken down, according to King County Metro spokesman Jeff Switzer. Two different ads without photos will remain on billboards, light rail and at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The decision to remove the bus ads was “a result of our continued engagement with the community and the feedback we are getting,” FBI Special Agent Fred Gutt said.

U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott wrote a letter last week to FBI Director Robert Mueller expressing concern over the ads, saying the ad would “only serve to exacerbate the disturbing trend of hate crimes against Middle Eastern, South Asian and Muslim-Americans.”

“When you start saying that this is the face of terrorism, you are really stigmatizing a whole group of people,” McDermott, D-Seattle, said Tuesday.

King County Metro received a half-dozen complaints through the customer information line, Switzer said.

Lynnwood resident Jeff Siddiqui, the founder of American Muslims of Puget Sound, said he received phone calls from other Muslims in Seattle who said they were concerned for their safety. He said the ad would be similarly objectionable if the government were to post photos of men from another ethnic group on billboards with the tagline “the face of murders in the United States.”

“It is affecting all kinds of people who have no experience with Muslims, who look at it and say, ‘Oh, Muslims are the face of global terrorism,’ ” Siddiqui said.

The 16 men in the ad are affiliated with extremist groups around the world. Seven are from African countries, four are from the Philippines, one each is from Malaysia and Chechnya, and three were born in the United States.

When a bus is whizzing by at 35 mph, McDermott said, it’s difficult to look closely at each photo and see the differences.

“The impression you get is that terrorism is caused by brown-skinned men with beards, and occasionally they wear a turban — which isn’t true,” McDermott said.

Gutt said the State Department solicited input from community members before the ads were placed and has continued that relationship.

Department staff members attended a meeting on Monday night with several community and civil-rights organizations, and staff members were open to establishing a campaign that combats terrorism while being respectful to minority communities, according to McDermott’s office.

“I am glad, because now we can start again, we can rebuild a relationship,” Siddiqui said. “Please God, let it be a relationship of open communication and trust.”

The ads will be taken down in the next seven to 10 days, Switzer said.

Seattle is the first city in the United States targeted for the campaign, according to Gutt. The city has a diverse population that travels and has connections internationally, which makes it an effective area for the pilot program, he said.

The Rewards for Justice Program was created in 1984 and reviews tips for credible information that leads to the arrest or conviction of terrorism or prevents terrorist acts from occurring. The program has paid about $125 million to more than 80 people and played a significant role in the 1995 arrest of Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Paige Cornwell: 206-464-2517 or

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  • Seeker

    A simple “Wanted” poster wouldn’t have done the trick ?

  • Jon Diamond

    This is one of the greatest speeches on terrorism. It is by Zakir Naik. Check it out.

  • rookie

    Sgt. 1st Class Dillard Johnson is the deadliest US soldier on record – with 2,746 kills

    With 2,746 confirmed kills, Sgt. 1st Class Dillard Johnson is the deadliest American soldier on record…

  • JD

    Myanmar gives official blessing to anti-Muslim monks

    The Buddhist extremist movement in Myanmar, known as 969, portrays itself as a grassroots creed.

    Its chief proponent, a monk named Wirathu, was once jailed by the
    former military junta for anti-Muslim violence and once called himself
    the “Burmese bin Laden.”

    But a Reuters examination traces 969’s
    origins to an official in the dictatorship that once ran Myanmar, and
    which is the direct predecessor of today’s reformist government. The 969
    movement now enjoys support from senior government officials,
    establishment monks and even some members of the opposition National
    League for Democracy (NLD), the political party of Nobel peace laureate
    Aung San Suu Kyi.

    Wirathu urges Buddhists to boycott Muslim shops and shun interfaith marriages. He calls mosques “enemy bases.”

    ann Sint, a former lieutenant general in Myanmar’s army, also sees
    nothing wrong with the boycott of Muslim businesses being led by the 969
    monks. “We are now practicing market economics,” he said. “Nobody can
    stop that. It is up to the consumers.”

    President Thein Sein is signaling a benign view of 969, too. His office
    declined to comment for this story. But in response to growing
    controversy over the movement, it issued a statement Sunday, saying 969
    “is just a symbol of peace” and Wirathu is “a son of Lord Buddha.”

    Wirathu and other monks have been closely linked to the sectarian
    violence spreading across Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. Anti-Muslim
    unrest simmered under the junta that ran the country for nearly half a
    century. But the worst fighting has occurred since the quasi-civilian
    government took power in March 2011.

  • JD
  • JD

    Marine Sgt Lawrence Hutchins conviction dropped in Iraq murder

    Sgt Hutchins was scheduled to be released in July 2015 at the earliest
    A US military court has overturned the conviction of a Marine found guilty in the 2006 murder of an Iraqi civilian.

    The military appeals court ruled Sgt Lawrence Hutchins was
    improperly held in solitary confinement for seven days without access to
    a lawyer.

    Sgt Hutchins, the leader of a unit found to have killed a
    52-year-old retired policeman, has served about half of an 11-year

    His lawyer Maj Babu Kaza said he believed Sgt Hutchins would be freed.

    “Sgt Hutchins and his family have suffered enough with this
    case, and it’s time for this to be over,” Maj Kaza said. “Enough is
    Shot in ditch

    The case centres on the shooting death of retired Iraqi
    policeman Hashim Ibrahim Awad during a raid in Hamdaniya, near Baghdad,
    in April 2006.

    Prosecutors said the unit led by Sgt Hutchins abducted Awad
    from his house when they could not find a suspected insurgent who lived
    next door.

    Awad was taken to ditch and shot in the head at least 10
    times. According to prosecutors Sgt Hutchins’s unit later placed a rifle
    and shovel by his body to make it appear as though he had been planting
    a roadside bomb.

    Weeks after the murder, Sgt Hutchins was being questioned by
    military investigators in Iraq when he invoked his right to a lawyer.

    At that point he was put under guard in a caravan where he
    was prevented from calling a lawyer or anyone else. After seven days
    there, investigators asked to search his belongings and promised he
    would be able to tell his side of the story the following morning.

  • mindy1

    Wanting to solicit REAL tips is a good thing, but that really should have been thought out better

  • mindy1

    In three…two…one…

  • CriticalDragon1177

    How long do you think it will be before some “counter Jihad” activists claims that by doing this they’re somehow denying that any Muslim is a terrorist?

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