Tennessee newspaper investigating apocalyptic, 'Islamophobic' ad

A self-described 'Evangelical' group ran the ad in the state's biggest newspaper, saying a nuclear bomb will explode.

    The Tennessean is the principal newspaper of Nashville, Tennessee in the United States [Mark Humphrey/AP Photo]
    The Tennessean is the principal newspaper of Nashville, Tennessee in the United States [Mark Humphrey/AP Photo]

    A Tennessee newspaper has said it is investigating what its editor called a "horrific" full-page advertisement from a religious group that predicts a terrorist attack in Nashville next month.

    The paid advertisement that appeared in Sunday's editions of The Tennessean from the group Future for America claims Donald Trump "is the final president of the USA" and features a photo of Trump and Pope Francis. It begins by claiming that a nuclear device will be detonated in Nashville and that the attack would be carried out by unspecific interests of "Islam".

    The group also ran a full-page ad in Wednesday's editions of the newspaper stating its intention to warn Nashville residents about next month's event "so that they may be able to make a decision intelligently".

    In a story on its website on Sunday afternoon, The Tennessean said the ad violated the newspaper's long-established standards banning hate speech.

    Vice President and Editor Michael A Anastasi said the paper's news and sales departments operate independently.

    "Clearly there was a breakdown in the normal processes, which call for careful scrutiny of our advertising content," Anastasi said. 

    "The ad is horrific and is utterly indefensible in all circumstances. It is wrong, period, and should have never been published," he said. "It has hurt members of our community and our own employees and that saddens me beyond belief. It is inconsistent with everything The Tennessean as an institution stands and has stood for." 

    Sales executives ordered the ad to be removed from future editions, the newspaper said.

    Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said in a statement on Sunday that while the group appreciates that the "Islamophobic" ad was pulled and that an investigation has begun, "we would urge the Tennessean to also implement updated policies and staff training to ensure that this type of hate incident does not occur in the future. CAIR is willing to offer that training."

    It was not immediately known how much Future for America paid for the ads. According to its website, the group's ministry warns of so-called end-of-the-world Bible prophecies whose fulfillment "is no longer future-for it is taking place before our eyes."

    Publicly available tax forms (PDF) required of non-profit organisations show the group had a total revenue of over $727,000, netting about $91,000 after expenses in 2018, the year for which most recent documents are available.

    Future for America spent $3,340 on lobbying that year, but did not list any spending for advertising. 

    The group had over $1m in assets in 2018, according to the filing.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies