A Metro bus, featuring a controversial American Freedom Defense Initiative ad, on a street in Washington, D.C., May 21, 2014
KAREN BLEIER/Getty Images

The only thing that stopped an anti-Islam advocacy group from running an incendiary ad in New York City’s bus and subway system is the phone call it got from the attorney representing the family of James Foley—the American journalist who was beheaded by ISIS in Syria—begging the organization not to. The ad would have featured Foley’s face alongside an anti-Islam message, Al-Jazeera reports. 

Yep, with all of the anti-Muslim rhetoric still in the air since 9/11—and then likely renewed because of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s barbaric antics in both those countries—the American Freedom Defense Initiative, spearheaded by famed anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller, handed over $100,000 to New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority to run the Foley ad, along with five others.

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But Geller pulled the Foley ad after receiving complaints from the family—something Geller rarely does. She said in a letter that she sympathized with Foley’s parents. “Ms. Geller understands and feels intimately the pain your clients are suffering,” Geller’s attorney, David Yerushalmi, said in a letter to the family’s lawyer.

The other five ads that did run were just as inflammatory, but Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the MTA, said that the law doesn’t give the transit agency much wiggle room to turn down ads that agency officials find deplorable. “We review every viewpoint ad under the standards, but a series of court rulings have made clear that our hands are largely tied,” Ortiz explained.

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“The MTA attempted to oppose previous anti-Islam ad campaigns sponsored by Geller and the AFDI, but Geller won a lawsuit in July 2012 against the agency on the grounds of her constitutional right to free speech,” the news site explained.

Read more at Al-Jazeera.