On the first day 10 controversial ads that refer to jihad as "savage" appeared in subway stations, several of them were covered by stickers with the words "racist" or "hate speech."
According to the Institute for Middle East Understanding, which said it had nothing to do with the stickers, but was alerted to the development this morning, the stickers appeared over six of the ads throughout Manhattan. It is unclear who is responsible for posting the stickers.
The ads, paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, have been a point of contention since the MTA denied the organization's bid to purchase them. The case went to federal court in July where the ads were approved on grounds of free speech.
The posters read, "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."
A coalition of cultural groups has denounced the ads as hate speech.
"The period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is a time, for many Jews, of reflection and introspection," executive director of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice Marjorie Dove Kent said. "We must recommit ourselves during this time to speaking and acting against these despicable ads and against all forms of Islamophobia and bigotry."
Pamela Geller, executive director for the American Freedom Defense Initiative, who has said the ads don't target all Muslims, told Metro she wasn't surprised the posters were defaced, and that they will be replaced as part of her organization's contract with the MTA.
"These are leftist thugs and Islamic supremacists who want to shut down our free speech," Geller said of those who put the stickers over the ads. "It speaks more to the fact that hundreds and hundreds of anti-Israel ads were posted across the country, and not one was touched. I think it really is a metaphor for the entire conversation, that it gets shut down immediately."
"What's racist [about the ads]?" Geller asked. "Islam is not a race."