San Franciscans Are Taking on Islamophobic Ads in the Best Possible Way


Activists in San Francisco have taken on Islamophobia in their communities, defacing racist bus ads with messages inspired by a Muslim superhero.

Now, the SFMTA ads proclaiming "Islamic Jew-Hatred: It's in the Quran" look a little different. The anonymous graffiti artists have changed this:

American Freedom Defense Initiative

... into this:


The background: The ads were originally placed by the Freedom Defense Initiative (ADI), a notorious anti-Muslim organization the Southern Poverty Law Center considers a hate group and that previously ran advertisements reading, "Yesterday's moderate is today's headline" in New York. The ADI labels itself a human rights group and claims it, "boldly tells truths that the U.S. government and the mainstream media seem determined to obfuscate." But for the most part, they just seem to want to stereotype everyday Muslims as radical Islam's fifth column in the Western world.

Some San Franciscans apparently got tired of the racist advertisement, so they defaced them using images of Kamala Khan, who became Marvel's first Muslim superhero when she took up the mantle of Ms. Marvel in 2013. Here's a few other examples of the modified ads:


Rad Muslim superheroines one, racism zero.

Why this is so cool: Khan is explicitly intended as an anti-racist character, who challenges stereotypes about Muslims through her search for a new identity as a superhero and by providing a counterweight for comics' age-old stereotyping of the Muslim world. Comic Attack gave her character a positive review, writing that, "We need Kamala Khan to teach us how to be humans who value faith and heroism of all shades so that our world can draw together and make sure another 9/11 never happens again."

Khan's "not just a chance for American Muslims, and the children of Muslim immigrants, to see themselves represented, with patience and sympathy and superpowers," wrote SFGate's Stephen in a review of the new title. "It's also a beautiful take on teenage dilemmas, and a way to think about why some people need, or cherish, their faith."

Her creator, G. Willow Wilson, encouraged her fans to spread news of the advertising-defilement campaign:

It's great to see that people are apparently taking inspiration from this fictional character and translating it into real action in their communities. Sorry, not sorry ADI.