The joint statement says: ''We, Turkish Americans, express our deepest concern regarding a misleading and malicious campaign ad sponsored by the so-called American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI). This ad, which has appeared in the public transportation systems of some major American cities, is a part of an ill-conceived campaign that juxtaposes the Prime Minister of Turkey with international terrorists, among them Osama Bin Laden.
The sponsor, AFDI, is an extremist organization that seeks to radicalize Americans to despise Islam and U.S. allies, such as Turkey. It lacks any academic or policy-making pedigree and is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as an "Anti-Muslim Hate Group". AFDI's insults drive wedges between Americans, whether by mischaracterizing their faith, ethnicity or national origin. This explains why many prominent American organizations have distanced themselves from AFDI. So we too, today, are speaking out for civility and calling upon our fellow Americans to reject AFDI, reject its message of hate, and ensure the dignity and safety of Turkish Americans, as well as all Americans.
The United States and Turkey, as two secular democracies and long-standing NATO Allies, together uphold universal values and freedoms, which others fear and seek to destroy. The two countries have both faced the scourge of terrorism from groups such as Al Qaeda, and have long joined forces to combat terrorism and violent extremism on a global scale. This joint effort continues to produce real results, keeping Americans and Turks safe from harm.
Numbering over 700,000 and representing a broad spectrum of cultures, beliefs and professions, Turkish and Turkic Americans are an important and integral part of American society. As Americans, we cherish our civil rights, especially the freedom of expression. However, when this right is used to cast hateful rhetorical grenades, which appear to be the sole mission of AFDI, negative consequences abound.
While AFDI's ads are constitutionally protected speech, we urge all public transit authorities of jurisdictions where these campaign ads run, to ensure that appropriate and sufficiently visible disclaimers -- no less than 25% of the ad space -- are published, lest the general public be misled into believing that AFDI's extremist views have been endorsed by local authorities.
Finally, we condemn AFDI and its act of diluting the meaning of terrorism, as well as for honoring actual terrorists and their hateful discourse by including in the same ad campaign, the Prime Minister of Turkey who is a friend to the American people, and the leader of a key NATO ally and partner of the United States.''
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