By Bidisha Roy, Hi India
CHICAGO, IL (December 17, 2010) – GainPeace, an out-reach project of Islamic Circle of North America has launched a bold venture in its public awareness campaign by placing ads about Islam on Buses and Train Ad running through in Chicago from October to December, 2010.
105 buses and 275 trains have been rented for this purpose. Similar projects on sub-ways and buses in other major cities have generated coverage by major media outlets and curiosity from the general public. So, why are Chicago Muslims spending thousands of dollars and committing numerous resources for the above ads? Dr. Sabeel Ahmed, Director of GainPeace, comments: “Islam and Quran is often a misunderstood, leading some to hold bias views on Islam with discrimination and suspicion of Muslims. This ad campaign will provide an opportunity for the people of Chicago to take a fresh and positive look at Islam through simple messages displayed on these billboards.”
The initiative is taken to dispel misconceptions about Islam (Image Courtesy GainPeace)
There are an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, 8 million in the USA, and about 400,000 Muslims in Chicago. “Muslims in Chicago and around the nation realized that their faith of Islam is often underrepresented and at time misrepresented in the media. Good examples of this media bias is its usage of the terms ‘Islamic fundamentalist’, ‘Islamic terrorist’ when describing incidents done by Muslims etc. Adding to the media bias are the recent incidents that also ignited negative sentiments against Islam, namely the Pastor Terry Jones saga of him trying to burn copies of the Quran, and the NY ‘Mosque at ground zero’ standoff. This often gives a false notion that it is the faith of Islam and not some isolated actions of some Muslims as responsible for the events in the Middle East. This has a profound negative impact on the common public regarding Islam. The polls taken this year reflect that a majority of individuals in the USA sees Islam in an unfavorable way,” he further explains.
Therefore, Muslims of Chicago are running the Islam ad campaign to educate fellow Americans about the true and peaceful teachings of Islam and are providing free Islamic literature, including English translation of the Quran. A toll free number, 800-662-ISLAM and website www.GainPeace.com, are advertised on all ads so anyone can call to discuss Islam and request free literature. Past media campaigns of GainPeace included ads about Islam on Chicago highway billboards, radio Station, city buses, and Taste of Chicago.
Messages on the ads include quotations from the Quran and facts about Islam:
‘Saving one life is like saving all of humanity – Quran
‘Protect the needy and the homeless’ – Quran
‘Quran – Prefect and Preserved, Memorized by Millions’
‘Prophet Jesus is mentioned 25 times in the Quran’
Quran contains 500+ scientific facts’
So far the response is great. “Hundreds of individuals from all backgrounds called the phone lines to ask questions about Islam and request free literature,” said Dr. Sabeel Ahmed. “One 92 years old individual called to request a Quran and mentioned that he would like to ‘give it a try’. Most of the callers are of college age between the ages of 18 and 34 years. About 3-5% of the calls are hate calls when the caller just dials the hotline and uses profanities before hanging up the phone. Overall the outcome from this campaign is very positive and hundreds of thousands of individuals in Chicago have been correctly educated about the teachings of Islam.”
Islamic Circle of North America, parent organization of Gain Peace, is one of the largest, non-profit, independent, grass roots organization of Muslim Americans with over twenty five chapters and affiliates. Its mission is to promote proper understanding of Islam and Muslims.
Article Courtesy: http://hiindiaweekly.com/zoomin.aspx?pageID=22&edition=12/10/2010