A controversial advertisement calling on Tennessee voters to reject “The Taliban Amendment” has been circulating in state newspapers. The measure in question is a proposed constitutional amendment that would give Tennessee’s state legislature more power to regulate abortion operations.
The ad is accompanied by a cartoon drawing that features a caricature of a Muslim man in turban as being representative of the state legislature. Being subdued underneath his foot is a cartoon woman depicting “Tennessee’s women.” The ad aims to equate the proposed amendment to the Taliban’s notoriously harsh policies toward women.
The ad, rightfully, has received statewide criticism. Remziya Suleyman, director of policy for the American Center for Outreach, said it equated men wearing turbans with violence against women. She added that it uses an ignorant stereotype to conflate all Middle Eastern men as being members of the Taliban, and that Muslims are not the only group of people who wear turbans in that region of the world.
“For goodness’ sake, I mean the Sikh community wears turbans,” Suleyman stated. “So, I think for me it’s that the image itself is depicting men, whether you’re Muslim, Sikh, Christian, any man in a turban is equated with violence against women.”
The group responsible for the ad, Tennesseans for Preservation of Personal Privacy, is a nonprofit organization that state records indicate was registered in April. According to the group’s lawyer and treasurer, Barbara Moss, it’s composed of “independent Republicans and Democrats” who are against the amendment. However, she refused to disclose any names.