Group Uses Billboards To Battle Islam Misconceptions
June 22, 2015, By Shelby Lin Erdman
A nationwide billboard campaign by an Islamic group is seeking to counter the negative image of Islam following a deadly shooting rampage at a French magazine in January. Click to support this campaign
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Radical Muslims claimed responsibility for the attack at the Paris offices of “Charlie Hebdo,” which often depicted the Prophet Muhammad in cartoon form. While the Quran does not explicitly prohibit depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, most Muslims believe that depicting his image in any form is wrong.
Naeem Baig is the executive director of the Islamic Circle of North America. During an interview on “A Closer Look,” he explained that ICNA generally focuses on one issue in a given year. Baig said after the attack in Paris, group members decided on an educational campaign on the Prophet Muhammad for 2015.
“This campaign is for Muslims and for people from all faiths.”
The organization plans to erect 100 billboards in cities across the U.S. during 2015. The billboards are already up in cities like Sacramento, California where the message on the billboard reads “Looking for the answers in life? Discover Muhammad.”
But in Atlanta the message was a little different. “Muhammad – peace be upon him – believed in peace, social justice, women’s rights.”
The three billboards ICNA put up in Atlanta in March have already been taken down. An ICNA spokesman said the messages were removed when the contract on the billboards expired in June.
Baig said ICNA wants to send a positive message about the true nature of Islam to help dispel the myths about the religion.
“In the Middle East, in different parts of the world, there is this violence happening in the name of my faith, Islam. And an overwhelming majority of 1.6 billion Muslims throughout the world or 7 or 8 million Muslims in the United States, we feel that someone is hijacking my faith – someone is misrepresenting my faith.”
He explained that Islam and the life of the Prophet is about “compassion, mercy, helping the poor and needy” and that “there is no such thing as killing someone just because you disagree” with them.
The Islamic Circle of North America participates in interfaith dialogues and discussions and organizes conferences and conventions, Baig said, “to truly represent what Islam is.”
WABE’s Rose Scott, Denis O’Hayer and Charles Jones contributed to this story.