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Controversial bus ads to be removed in King County

Washington Congressman Jim McDermott says a bus board campaign to find international terrorists is offensive to Muslims and ethnic minorities, and encourages racial and religious profiling.(Photo courtesy Rep. McDermott)

Controversial ads featuring the faces of international terrorists wanted by the FBI will be taken off buses in King County.

Congressman Jim McDermott's office confirmed the decision Tuesday. McDermott and others are outraged that most of the 16 people on the ad are clearly Middle Eastern. He wrote a letter to the FBI, the U.S. Justice Department and others last week asking that the Joint Terrorism Task Force 'Faces of Global Terrorism' ad be removed.

"Though civilian vigilance is important to the fight against terror, stereotypes of what a terrorist looks like - or who they worship - are not only wrong, they make us blind to threats that fall outside our limited notions," McDermott said in the letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller.

McDermott has pointed out that there are other people on the terror list of other races and religions that aren't part of the bus ad campaign.

"What if you had an ad going around on buses with 16 pictures of blacks on them and the title saying "the faces of national murderers and rapists?" asks Jeff Siddiqui, founder of the American Muslims of Puget Sound.

The ads will be replaced within the next 10 days, according to Special Agent Fredrick Gutt with the FBI in Seattle.

I mean these are the people that we're seeking information on, and that rewards are being paid for. So people do need to be aware of them," Gutt said. "But how you communicate that information is important as well."

McDermott tells KIRO Radio he's pleased the State Department and Justice Department acted quickly to the concerns.

"We're a city that accepts diversity and we don't like generalizations about people. And unfortunately the bus ad looks like a generalization about all Muslims," McDermott said.

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