Hamas terrorist in Gaza (file)
Hamas terrorist in Gaza (file) Reuters

A US judge has ruled that New York City must allow its buses to display a controversial ad exposing Islamist anti-Semitism.

The ad in question - sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) - portrays a masked Hamas terrorist next to a quote from Hamas's official MTV TV station declaring that: "Killing Jews is worship that brings us close to Allah."

The ad then asks: "That's his jihad, what's yours?"

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) had refused to run the ads, which had been scheduled to run for a full month, claiming it feared they could incite "violence and terrorism". That decision prompted an appeal by the AFDI, whose lawyer David Yerushalmi ridiculed the suggestion the ads would incite terrorism. 

"When our clients run ads exposing this Jew hatred, all of a sudden the transit authorities are worried about the 'tone' of the conversation or conjure up some threat of violence," Yerushalmi said at the time.

In Tuesday's ruling, Judge John Koeltl agreed, and said the ad should be run in accordance with the constitutional right to freedom of expression.

"It strains credulity to believe that New Yorkers would be incited to violence by ads that did not incite residents of Chicago and San Francisco," he said.

The MTA has 30 days to appeal, and an MTA spokesman said they were "disappointed" with the ruling and "reviewing our options."

It is not the first time an ad attacking radical Islam by the American Freedom Defense Initiative has triggered controversy.

In a similar case in March of this year, a judge in Philadelphia ruled in favor of the group, forcing buses to carry ads exposing anti-Semitism in the Muslim world which included the words: "Jew-Hatred: It's in the Quran."