New York’s MTA allows ‘Muslim’ movie posters in subways

Federal judge gives green light to subway advertisements promoting mock documentary about American Muslim comedians

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Muslim comics Dean Obeidallah and Negin Farsad.

A federal judge has ordered New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to allow filmmakers to run a series of advertisements which promotes their film ‘’ The Muslims Are Coming!’’ in the subway.

The MTA, had previously objected to running the ads for the film this year and had banned political ads from buses and subways. The authority had said this ruling would be reviewed.

Judge Colleen McMahon said the advertisements were not initially intended to be political and that they were created by two Muslim comedians.

“That the advertisements at issue gently mock prejudice and employ Islamophobia as a comedic device does not make their message prominently or predominantly political,” she wrote.

Vaguely Qualified Productions produced the film and the advertisements were scheduled to show in April and May. These ads were designed to show the world that American Muslims are ordinary people and to increase interest in the 2013 film. However, the production company sued in June.

Ads for "The Muslims Are Coming!" includes statements such as "The Ugly Truth About Muslims: Muslims have great frittata recipes" and "Those Terrorists Are All Nutjobs," with "nutjobs" and "Muslim" to be "more accurate."

"An arbitrary conclusion by some official at the MTA, untethered to any articulated or articulable standard, that an advertisement including the word 'Muslims' is 'political,' is utterly unreasonable," McMahon wrote.

"Indeed," she added, "the evidence before the court plainly indicates that VQP's silly advertisements were subject to greater scrutiny than other potentially controversial ads."

Comedians Dean Obeidallah and Negin Farsad celebrated the fact that the government supported their ads.

“We’re thrilled that the judge in this case recognized that our Muslim background was not a political issue,” Obeidallah said.

“Shutting down a couple of American Muslim comedians from spreading delightfulness on the subway? That never made sense,” Farsad said.


TRTWorld and agencies