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21 Asian Am. L.J. 43 (2014)
Savagery in the Subways: Anti-Muslim Ads, the First Amendment, and the Efficacy of Counterspeech

handle is hein.journals/aslj21 and id is 49 raw text is: Savagery in the Subways:
Anti-Muslim Ads, the First Amendment, and
the Efficacy of Counterspeech
Engy Abdelkader, Esq.t
From San Francisco to Washington, D.C. to Detroit to Chicago to
New York, anti-Muslim hate placards have recently appeared on
government-owned transit systems in various cities around the country.
Anti-Muslim hate groups designed, funded, and placed the inflammatory
advertisements, representing a well-orchestrated campaign to demean
and attack the minority Muslim community. The ads have culminated in
hate crime charges in the subway-pushing death of an immigrant of South
Asian descent, as well as diverse manifestations of counter, official, and
private speech and First Amendment litigation in at least three
jurisdictions, where well-meaning transit officials attempted to prevent
the ads'placement. Interdisciplinary in its orientation, this Article first
contemplates anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States more than a
decade following the tragic events surrounding 9/11. Then, it describes
three variant strands of the hate ads after identifying the anti-Muslim
activists responsible for them. The Article thereafter engages in a
comparative analysis of the First Amendment litigation that followed
upon the heels of seemingly well-intentioned government censorship of
the odious speech in New York, Detroit and Washington, D.C. These
vignettes are woven together with a singular analytic thread: the
effectiveness of counterspeech by officials and private entities as the
preferred self-help remedy of first instance. Ultimately, the Article
illustrates that while counterspeech is admittedly not without flaw, it
nevertheless represents an effective non-judicial means for empowering
individuals, educating communities, and undermining harmful or
threatening expression, including the anti-Muslim hate speech here.
t J.D., LL.M. The author serves as the U.S. Representative to the Advisory Panel of Experts on
Freedom of Religion or Belief at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. She also
chairs the American Bar Association's Committee on National Security and Civil Liberties, a part of the
Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities. The opinions expressed here reflect personal views
and not those of the respective organizations. The author thanks Professors Seth Kreimer, Aziz Huq and
Khaled Abdelkader for their comments on prior drafts of this Article, as well as the Journal's Editorial
Board. She expresses gratitude to each member of her family for their continued support.


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