The car owner requested an extra “M” for the custom license plate, but the sentiment behind the “HAMMAS” affixed to the front of a black Dodge Charger in a Brooklyn neighborhood is hard to ignore.
“I find it frightening to look at and I’m a little worried myself,” one woman told WCBS-TV.
The New York state Department of Motor Vehicles initially approved and issued the plate that’s just one letter off from the Palestinian Islamic militant group Hamas, but now the DMV has ordered it gone.
The agency has characterized the plate as “patently offensive” according to WCBS, because “the group represented by the name on the plate is on the list of entities designated by the U.S. Government as a terrorist organization.”
“This car has nothing to do with terrorism,” said a woman whom WCBS identified as Palestinian and who knows the car owner. “It’s just a license plate, for God’s sake.”
She said the plate is simply a sign of solidarity with the Palestinian people.
“No threats were made. Nothing happened. No one said anything,” the woman added to the station. “It’s just a license plate. It has nothing to do with America.”
The plate was ordered online in early August, according to WCBS, during the thick of the heavy conflict between Israel and Hamas.
The DMV told the station that the plate never should have been issued in the first place.
A reporter knocked on the door of the individual believed to be the owner of the car, but didn’t get a comment.
The DMV sent new plates to the owner, but the station reported that only the back plate was replaced.