Egyptian Religious Authority Condemns Anti-Islam Ads on SEPTA

Says "racist campaign" seeks to "ignite hatred and incite bigotry against Islam."


The controversy about those anti-Islam ads on SEPTA buses has gone international. (See the ads in question here.)

An organization described as Egypt’s “most prominent religious authority” has condemned the ads as a “racist” attempt to “incite bigotry against Islam.” Dar Al-Ifta posted the condemnation to its Facebook page today, as well as to its English-language web site

Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta has condemned the decision of the Philadelphia public transit authority to put anti-Islamic posters on public buses. Dar al-Ifta confirmed that such anti-Islamic campaigns only serve to spread hatred and conflict in the American society. It added that ignoring the feelings of Muslims living in the US and outside it undermines all efforts to spread the culture of peace, co-existence and accepting the other as it is likewise considered prejudice against Muslims who are part and parcel of the American society. Dar al-Ifta called upon the American authorities and people not to respond to this racist campaign as it only seeks to ignite hatred and incite bigotry against Islam through disseminating fabricated Islamic teachings and falsified image about Islam. This hazardous campaign will leave the gate of confrontation and clashes wide open instead of exerting efforts towards peaceful coexistence and harmony.

SEPTA officials provided a response to Philly Mag:

SEPTA regrets any discomfort that may be caused from viewing these controversial messages during the weeks they will be displayed. We appreciate the support and understanding we have received from the diverse faith and ethnic communities within Philadelphia. Our advertising policy has been revised to allow the Authority to reject these types of ads in the future.

The ads are sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, designated as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. SEPTA went to court to avoid accepting the ads, but a judge last month ruled the agency had accepted other political content — and that it was a violation of the First Amendment for the public agency to refuse the ad. Following that ruling, SEPTA agreed to run the ad — but said it would change policies to refuse all political ads in the future.

The English language Egypt Daily News has called the condemnation a “fatwa,” commonly understood in the west to mean a death sentence, but which is actually the term for any ruling from an Islamic religious law scholar. In posting the condemnation to its English language site, Dar Al-Ifta has not termed its pronouncement a fatwa. Philadelphia has reached out to the author of the Egypt Daily News article and is awaiting clarification. (UPDATE: The author says the condemnation is not a fatwa, and is changing the story accordingly.)

Here’s how Dar Al-Ifta describes itself:

Since it was first established, Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah has been the premier institute to represent Islam and the international flagship for Islamic legal research. It fulfills its historic and civil role by keeping contemporary Muslim in touch with religious principles, clarifying the right way, removing doubts concerning religious and worldly life, and revealing religious laws for new issues of contemporary life.

More information as it becomes available.