Pam Geller’s Latest Subway Ad Inadvertently Attacks Hebrew Bible

Pam Geller has unveiled her latest subway ad which turns out to be just as absurd and offensive as the last—though with quite a bit more irony to it. 

“Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers,” it reads, quoting a snippet translated from the Qur’an. As one of the folks behind the #MySubwayAd response to her last round of hateful and wasteful spending, I was pleased to see how absolutely disgusted New Yorkers were, with some even buying counter ads. New Yorkers, of all (or no) faiths, made it clear that they would not tolerate these sentiments.

Yet, instead of listening to people in New York, Geller has decided that she wants to further insult our little village of five boroughs running an ad showing a plane smashing into the Twin Towers. No New Yorker would use this image. We were, and remain, deeply traumatized by that day. If a city could suffer from PTSD, NYC does.

The text of the ad is ostensibly meant to reveal how, in her words, “savage” Islam is. The fragment of the verse she’s referring to reads in full:

We shall cast terror into the hearts of the faithless because of their ascribing to Allah partners, for which He has not sent down any authority, and their refuge shall be the Fire, and evil is the [final] abode of the wrongdoers. (trans. Quli Qara’i)

Of course a using fragment out of context and divorced from even an elementary understanding of the Qur’an, might well frighten the casual observer.

Problem for Geller is, in context of the verses around it, this passage is actually a deliberate echo of a story from Exodus in which the prophet (in this case Moses) calls for the believers to kill the unbelievers who depart from God:

then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, ‘Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me!’ And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. He said to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “Put your sword on your side, each of you! Go back and forth from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill your brother, your friend, and your neighbour.”’ (Ex. 32:26-27, NRSV)

It’s important to note that in the Qur’an not only is Muhammad portrayed, essentially, as the Moses of his age, but that the Qur’an actually mentions Moses more often than any other human—including Muhammad. 

So one must conclude that Geller is either totally ignorant, or that she’s hating on those who believe in the words of the Hebrew Bible as well as those who believe in the Qur’an. It’s difficult take someone who hates so much—and so indiscriminately—seriously. All these ads will do is further traumatize the city and keep us from healing. But I guess that’s okay for her, as long it keeps money rolling in.

hrashid@mac.com'

Hussein Rashid is a native New Yorker and Proud Muslim. Currently an instructor at the Center for Spiritual Inquiry at Park Avenue Christian Church and based at Hofstra University, he is deeply committed to interfaith work and is passionate about teaching. He believes we need to start talking more intelligently about Islam specifically, and religion generally.