Friday, December 16, 2005
RALEIGH, N.C. - The billboard image is striking: a photo of a man shrouded in a traditional Arab head scarf clutching a grenade and a North Carolina driver’s license.
The message: “Don’t license terrorists, North Carolina.”
A New York-based group that plans to place the ad near North Carolina’s Capitol this month says it is meant as a critique of the state’s driver’s license laws but Arab-American groups complain it is inflaming an anti-Arab sentiment.
“The message of the ad says that Arabs are dangerous and violent people and that therefore they should not get driver’s licenses and I think it’s bigoted. It’s racist,” said Christine Saah Nazer of the Washington D.C.-based Arab American Institute.
Amanda Bowman, president of the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, which is launching the billboard campaign in North Carolina, Wisconsin and New Mexico, said the ad targets only terrorists.
“We’re not going after Arab-Americans,” Bowman said. “We’re going after terrorists.”