CAIRO – A leading Muslim organization has launched a new awareness campaign in the central US state of Florida to present an accurate image of Islam and create new opportunities for dialogue with American society.
“Our goal is to reach out and start a dialogue with our fellow Americans,” Dr. Zahid Bukhari, president of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), said in a press release obtained by OnIslam.net.“We see it as our responsibility to introduce our faith, Islam, and clarify any misconceptions about American Muslims.”
Launched on the New Year eve, the campaign “Why Islam” features 29 billboards and latest web technology to drive traffic to ICNA’s YouTube channel and website.
It also includes advertisements on AM Talk radio stations.
A direct call center is already in place to take phone calls to help the callers with the up to date information about Islam by calling 1 (877) Why – Islam (949-47526).
The campaign is the result of a collaborative effort by ICNA in partnership with other American local charities as the American Muslim Community Centers), the United Muslim Foundation and Islamic Center of Orlando.
The effort is not the first by ICNA to present an accurate image of Islam.
Last year, the organization offered free copies of holy Qur’an as well as Islamic pamphlets in front of public libraries as part of its campaign.
The pamphlets covered a number of subjects, including the relationship of Muslims to Christians and Jews, human rights, status of women, the afterlife, worship and one titled "What does Islam say about terrorism?"
US Muslims, estimated at between six to eight million, have been sensing a growing hostility following a hearing presented by Republican representative Peter King on what he described as “radicalization” of US Muslims.
A recent report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the University of California and Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender found that Islamophobia in the US is on the rise.
A US survey had also revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A recent Gallup poll had found that 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least “a little” prejudice against Muslims.
Joining the campaign, American Muslim charities were excited for being part of a campaign spreading true information about their faith.
"We are happy to contribute towards this worthy cause to get accurate message about Islam to all Americans," said AMCC Chairman Atif Fareed.
"Thanks to Allah and all the religious freedoms we enjoy living in the United States of America, American Muslims are able to freely practice their religion."
Masuma Virji, Chairperson of United Muslim Foundation (UMF), agrees.
"Islam has so much in common with Christianity and Judaism," Virji said.
“UMF is excited to be a part of launching this project during the holiday season, to encourage everyone to call in and learn more about Islam or to get in touch with UMF for local informative presentations.”
The campaign followed recent ad campaigns against Islam sponsored by by Islamophobic blogger Pamela Geller.
In September, Geller sponsored an inflammatory advertisement equating Jihad to savagery appeared in ten subway stations in New York City.
The “Why Islam” campaign is not the first in the US to counter hate ads.
Last month, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) launched "MyJihad" educational campaign to share the proper meaning of Jihad as believed and practiced by the majority of Muslims.In October, CAIR championed a campaign to counter the anti-Jihad ads with signs reading a passage from Noble Qur’an saying: "Show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant."
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