HOUSTON – Carrying a message of unity, a US Muslim advocacy group has launched a new billboards campaign designed to help stemming growing anti-Muslim sentiments in the US, the KTRK Texas TV reported on Friday, June 10.
“This pro-active campaign is designed to promote mutual understanding and to highlight the contributions of American Muslims to our society,” said Mustafaa Carroll, Executive Director of the Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Texas (CAIR-Houston).
Starting with Houston, CAIR “Peace and Unity” campaign will take place under a billboard depicting diverse representatives of the state's Muslim community.
With the headline “Proud Americans, Proud Texans, Proud Muslims”, the 10 billboards spread across the city carry the photos of some of the Muslim members in the Houstonian society.
One billboard shows Muslims serving in a variety of professions, including a doctor and soldier.
Other billboards in the CAIR-Houston campaign will stress interfaith understanding by showing an imam with a Jewish rabbi and Christian pastor.
Along with Houston, the campaign will move on to include other states across America from now and till September, at the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
“We've gotten calls from Chicago and LA and DC and many other states that are all excited about the possibility of having a similar campaign in their area,” Carroll said.
Although there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to between 6-8 Muslims.
A US survey has revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A recent Gallup poll, however, found 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least “a little” prejudice against Muslims.
Featuring messages of unity and tolerance on the billboards, the campaign was welcomed as a new effort to stem growing Islamophobia in the American society.
“I think this campaign will help our society come together and our communities come together,” former Houston City Council Member MJ Kahn, who appears on one of the billboards, said.
Since 9/11, US Muslims have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith.
Anti-Muslim frenzy has grown sharply in the US in recent months over plans to build a mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks in New York, resulting in attacks on Muslims and their property.
Moreover, US Muslims have been sensing a growing hostility following a hearing presented by representative Peter King on what he described as “radicalization” of US Muslims.
Lawmakers in at least 13 states have introduced proposals forbidding local judges from considering Shari`ah when rendering verdicts on issues of divorces and marital disputes.
The scale of bullying Muslim students at schools also increased after news of Osama bin Laden's death.
Intended to deliver a correct image of Islam and Muslims, the billboards campaign was hoped to stir new debates and conversations inside the community.
“We don't think that a billboard is gonna fix things, but it's definitely going to set the tone for what we hope is more to come,” Carroll said.
Starting in their city, Houstonian Muslim hope these billboards would be a path to peace.
“It's a really good billboard and a message to send out there that we're not terrorists and we're not for terrorism,” said Adenike Abass, a Muslim Houstonian.
“Islam is a religion of peace.”
June 11, 2011, on islam