'Islam' bus ads draw criticism

Broward, USA - There's a new front in the conflict between Jew and Muslim: buses.

Fifty of Broward County's 290-bus fleet have been rolling for the past several weeks with a message that might seem more oblique than inflammatory. Black letters on a white backdrop proclaim, ``ISLAM: The Way of Life of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.''

The $60,000 ad was paid for by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

''We owe it to our fellow Americans to let them know that Islam stands for peace,'' said Altaf Ali, director of CAIR's South Florida chapter. ``Muslims are here, and Muslims are part and parcel of the United States.''

But the words have inspired opposition from a group called Americans Against Hate, led by Jewish activist Joe Kaufman. The group says the ad is misleading because it implies that Abraham, Moses and Jesus were Muslim.

''That's offensive to both Jews and Christians,'' said Kaufman, of Coral Springs.

County officials have rejected Kaufman's request that they remove the ads. Now he plans to stage a rally outside County Hall at noon Friday.

''We want to send a message right to the commission that it's not right to legitimize this organization,'' he said.

CAIR and Americans Against Hate accuse each other of being affiliated with terrorists.

Kaufman notes the U.S. Department of Justice labeled CAIR an ''unindicted co-conspirator'' in a Dallas case that, last November, saw five leaders of the Holy Land Foundation, a Muslim charity, convicted of providing more than $12 million in support to Hamas, a designated terrorist organization.

Ali, who lives in Pembroke Pines, counters that Kaufman is affiliated with the Kahanist Movement founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane, who advocated removing all Muslims from Israel. Because of its terrorist activities, the Kahanist Movement was banned in Israel and its U.S. assets were frozen.

Kaufman writes for the Web publication Front Page Magazine, and once called for nuclear attacks on Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Since founding Americans Against Hate as a terrorism watchdog group, he wrote that ''pure merciless force'' was the only way to deal with Muslims.

''He's a man who advocates for killing,'' Ali said.

Ali said the ad accurately describes Abraham, Moses and Jesus. ''A Muslim is anyone who submits their will to God,'' he said. ``By that definition, Abraham and all the prophets are Muslim because they submitted their will to God.''

Broward County Transit spokeswoman Phyllis Berry said the county accepted CAIR's message because it did not violate guidelines against ads that demean religions.