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Calif. bus ads called offensive to Islam

SAN FRANCISCO — Civic officials joined Arab and Muslim leaders to denounce what they call offensive anti-Islamic ads that will appear on 10 buses for the next month in San Francisco.

The ads were paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative and feature photos of Osama bin Laden, the Times Square car bomber, and the alleged gunman in the Fort Hood, Texas, shootings, accompanied by quotes about warfare and weapons that the group links to Islam.

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At least one of the ads contains a quote attributed to the militant Islamic group Hamas that reads: ‘‘Killing Jews is worship that brings us closer to Allah.’’

Officials said the ads were racist. ‘‘These offensive ads serve no purpose than to denigrate our city’s Arab and Muslim communities,’’ District Attorney George Gascon said on Monday.

Mayor Ed Lee added, ‘‘San Francisco is a city that celebrates its diversity, and hateful speech and discrimination against our Arab and Muslim communities will never be tolerated.’’

Board of Supervisors president David Chiu was expected to introduce a resolution on Tuesday condemning the ads.

Similar ads have appeared on transit systems in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Portland, Ore. The group ran similar ads in San Francisco in August and has also posted ads in New York City.

San Francisco officials believe a First Amendment court decision protecting freedom of speech means it must accept the advertising.

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