James Foley photo removed from anti-Islamic bus ads in New York

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James Foley photo removed from anti-Islamic bus ads in New York
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: People attend a special mass in remembrance of journalist James Foley at Our Lady of the Rosary Church for August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: People attend a special mass in remembrance of journalist James Foley at Our Lady of the Rosary Church for August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
Parishioners wait to greet the family of James Foley after a Catholic mass at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. The family and friends of murdered US journalist James Foley attended the memorial mass, offering prayers for the safety of his fellow hostages in Syria.  AFP PHOTO/DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
A parishioner holds a prayer card in memory of James Foley after a Catholic mass at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary parish August 24, 2014, in Rochester, New Hampshire. The family and friends of murdered US journalist James Foley attended the memorial mass and offered prayers for the safety of his fellow hostages in Syria. AFP PHOTO/DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Diane and John Foley, parents of James Foley, address the congregation during a Catholic mass at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary parish August 24, 2014, in Rochester, New Hampshire. The family and friends of murdered US journalist James Foley attended the memorial mass and offered prayers for the safety of his fellow hostages in Syria. AFP PHOTO/DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
A parishioner walks past a display of photos of James Foley before a Catholic mass at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. The family and friends of murdered US journalist James Foley are attending the memorial mass and offering prayers for the safety of his fellow hostages in Syria.  AFP PHOTO/DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Parishioners walk past a display of photos of James Foley before a Catholic mass at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. The family and friends of murdered US journalist James Foley are attending the memorial mass and offering prayers for the safety of his fellow hostages in Syria.  AFP PHOTO/DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
John Foley, father of James Foley, greets supporters after a Catholic mass at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary parish August 24, 2014, in Rochester, New Hampshire. The memorial service was held for James Foley, a US journalist beheaded by Islamic State fighters after he was kidnapped in Syria in November. AFP PHOTO/DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
John Foley, father of James Foley, greets supporters after a Catholic mass at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary parish August 24, 2014, in Rochester, New Hampshire. The memorial service was held for James Foley, a US journalist beheaded by Islamic State fighters after he was kidnapped in Syria in November .AFP PHOTO/DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: People leave the Our Lady of the Rosary Church after a special mass in remembrance of James Foley for August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: Diane Foley receives a hug following a special mass in remembrance of her son James Foley at Our Lady of the Rosary Church for August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: People leave the Our Lady of the Rosary Church after a special mass in remembrance of James Foley for August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
Diane and John Foley, parents of journalilst James Foley, sit for a portrait at their home during an interview August 24, 2014, in Rochester, New Hampshire. A memorial service will be held later August 24 for Foley, a US journalist beheaded by Islamic State fighters after he was kidnapped in Syria in November. AFP PHOTO/DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: People leave the Our Lady of the Rosary Church after a special mass in remembrance of James Foley August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Journalist James Foley was recently executed by Islamic militants. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: John (2nd L) and Diane Foley (2nd R) greet people following a special mass in remembrance of their son James Foley at Our Lady of the Rosary Church for August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
EDGARTOWN, MA - AUGUST 20: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement about the execution of American journalist James Foley by ISIS terrorists in Iraq during a press briefing at the press filing center at the Edgartown School August 20, 2014 in Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. A video released shows an ISIS militant beheading Foley in what is believed to be retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. The militant then threatens the life of another American hostage, Steven Sotloff, who is also missing. (Photo by Rick Friedman-Pool/Getty Images)
Diane Foley, mother of James Foley, pauses for a moment during an interview at her home August 24, 2014, in Rochester, New Hampshire. A memorial service will be held later August 24 for Foley, a US journalist beheaded by Islamic State fighters after he was kidnapped in Syria in November. AFP PHOTO/DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: A picture stands at Our Lady of the Rosary Church for a special mass in remembrance of journalist James Foley August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: People attend a special mass in remembrance of journalist James Foley at Our Lady of the Rosary Church for August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: People attend a special mass in remembrance of journalist James Foley at Our Lady of the Rosary Church for August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: Pictures stand at Our Lady of the Rosary Church for a special mass in remembrance of journalist James Foley August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: People enter Our Lady of the Rosary Church for a special mass in remembrance of journalist James Foley August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
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By BARBARA GOLDBERG

(REUTERS) - A photo of American journalist James Foley shortly before his beheading by the Islamic state militant group is being removed from anti-Islam advertisements appearing on Monday on 100 New York City buses and two subway stations.

In response to a complaint from the Foley family, the advertisement is being altered to include an unidentifiable severed head held by the masked militant seen wielding a knife in the video of Foley's beheading, said David Yerushalmi, lawyer for Pamela Geller, whose group is sponsoring the ads.

"The use of Mr. Foley's photo in your advertisement will cause profound distress to the Foley family," family lawyer J. Patrick Rowan said in a letter to Geller.

Geller writes a blog criticizing Islam. Her group, American Freedom Defense Initiative, paid for a six-ad series scheduled to run for a month on the city's mass transit system.

The ads, including one showing Foley in the video of his beheading released in August, suggest that Islam is inherently violent and extremist, and call for the end of American aid to Islamic countries.

"Having lived in and reported from communities in which nearly everyone was of Muslim faith, he had great respect for the religion and those who practiced it," the Foley family lawyer wrote, referring to the journalist.

"The advertisement you are preparing to run seems to convey the message that ordinary practitioners of Islam are a dangerous threat. This message is entirely inconsistent with Mr. Foley's reporting and his beliefs."

Foley, 40, was kidnapped by armed men in Syria in 2012. Islamic State has seized parts of Syria and Iraq.

Geller's lawyer said the image will be replaced out of "compassion for the family's pain and anguish."

New York City politicians and religious leaders last week criticized the ad campaign, saying no faith should be subject to attack ads and calling it an attempt to divide the city.

Geller was behind a similar ad campaign in 2012 on the city's transport system, which was initially rejected by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a state agency. A federal judge later decided that the MTA's rule against ads that demeaned race, gender, religion or several other categories was unconstitutional.

The MTA has since revised its standard, and so-called viewpoint ads like Geller's now run with a large disclaimer saying the MTA does not endorse the views expressed.

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