Religious Leaders Join Forces to Combat Anti-Muslim Ads With a Loving Campaign
In November 2012, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) plastered public transportation in various cities with hateful posters calling Muslims savages. One of it reads: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
The American Freedom Defense Initiative is led by Pamela Geller, a right-wing blogger and activist best known for her staunch opposition to a proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero. The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled Geller’s Stop Islamization of America as a hate group.
Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy was arrested for spray painting over one of the offensive posters but was released later on.
Ads were also placed on buses for four weeks in Denver, New York and Boston. Paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, the ones in Denver read: “9,757 Deadly Islamic Attacks Since 9/11/01. It’s Not Islamophobia. It’s Islamorealism.”
Many Muslims and community leaders have spoken out against the anti-Muslim ads. Some of them are:
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, fears that the ads will “contribute to the atmosphere of anti-Islam hostility,” adding that there has been a “widespread repudiation of the hate message promoted by these ads.”
The Interfaith Center of New York gathered on the steps of City Hall Tuesday (Sept. 25) to rally against the ads. “These ads fuel anti-Muslim sentiment that aims to divide us, but we will always come together, louder and stronger, for respect and dignity,” said Valarie Kaur, director of Groundswell at Auburn Seminary.[/box_light]
To counter the hate speech, Colorado Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders launched a “Love Thy Neighbor” campaign — starting with ads on RTD buses. The ads, purchased for $5,000, have appeared on 10 buses in December 2012 and will stay on each bus for a month.
From the Denver Post,
“Our country is in the midst of a lot of divisions,” Temple Emanuel Senior Rabbi Joe Black said. “Hatred is only going to further violence and the breakdown of society.”
The “Love Thy Neighbor” message conveys “a shared concept in the three religions,” Colorado Muslim Society Imam Karim Abuzaid said. “In Islam, we are commanded to love our neighbor, or at least act in love.”
Ameera is the Editor of Muzlimbuzz.sg, a chronic reader and a news junkie.