The ads, sponsored by the group Stop of Islamization of America, appeared on 25 Chicago cabs this summer. Beside pictures of young women who were allegedly killed by their Muslim fathers for refusing an Islamic marriage, dating a non-Muslim or becoming “too Americanised” was the message: “Is your family threatening you?” The placards also displayed the web address LeaveIslamSafely.com.
Michael Levine, the CEO of Yellow Cab Chicago, said the signs were offensive to the city’s taxi drivers, an estimated half of whom are Muslim.
The ads were carried by independent Yellow Cab affiliates, Levine said in a statement. The fleet owner was paid by a company that specializes in advertising atop taxis.
When Yellow Cab learned of the placards three weeks ago, it called the advertising company and asked to have the ads removed, according to Levine. Yellow Cab was told they were taken down, but found out on Tuesday that three ads were still running atop taxis.
“They will be removed,” Levine said. “Yellow Cab does not regularly approve advertising content carried by our affiliates, but we do reserve the right to ask them to remove ads that offend either the drivers or the public.”
Although the ads appeared to offer a safe haven for young women who want to leave Islam, critics contend the signs stoked fear among passengers and passers-by about the way many of the city’s taxi drivers worship.
Pamela Geller, a leader of Stop the Islamization of America, previously told the Chicago Tribune that Muslims are increasingly taking over schools, financial institutions and the workplace. Geller said the ads were directed at “Muslims girls in trouble, living in fear of their lives, struggling to find resources to help.”
Geller, who is also one of the leaders against building the Park51 mosque near the site of the September 11 attacks in New York, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
The Council on American Islamic Relations considered legal action regarding the ads but chose not to, said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of CAIR-Chicago.
“It’s long overdue,” Rehab said of the ads’ removal. “These ads are sponsored by a notoriously bigoted anti-Muslim group. It’s a classic case of false advertising.”