Philadelphia faiths protest anti-Islam ads
OnIslam & News Agencies
PENNSYLVANIA – Showing solidarity with Philadelphia Muslim community after the city’s transportation authority approved anti-Islam ads, dozens of religious leaders took part in a rally that aimed to send a message of love to the religious minority.
“We have to speak out against hate,” Bilal Qayyum, who reverted to Islam more than 45 years ago, was quoted by CBS on Tuesday, March 31.
“It does nothing to help the city if we separate people by religion and races. We have to come together.”
Qayyum was speaking during Tuesday’s interfaith rally that was attended by scores of Christians, Jews, and Muslims who came to protest the anti-Muslim bus ads that link Adolf Hitler to Islam.
Launched by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), the bus ads show Adolf Hitler meeting with Palestinian grand mufti of Al-Quds (occupied Jerusalem) Haj Amin al-Husseini, and the words: “Islamic Jew Hatred: It’s in the Qur’an.”
Under terms of a $30,000 contract, the Islamophobic campaign will display the offensive ads for a month on the sides of 84 public bases.
“It’s the antithesis of Islam to go berserk and cause destruction, violence, and vandalism against Septa — don’t do that,” Imam Mikal Shabazz, who also attended the rally, said, referring to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA).
Marchers from different faiths were joined by city officials like Mayor Michael Nutter who told the crowd: “Philadelphia is a city of hope.”
The anti-Muslim bus campaign in Philadelphia is not the first in US.
A similar campaign was launched in San Francisco last January by anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller.
Another campaign was launched by the pro-Israel group last September by placing similar anti-Islam ads on New York buses and in Subway stations.
The ads feature an image for James Foley, the American journalist, who was killed by the so-called Islamic State (ISIL), along with the slogan: “Yesterday’s moderate is today’s headline.”
In May, the group also sponsored bus ads that compare Muslims to Hitler.
Despicable and False
On its part, the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has condemned the bus ads as despicable and false.
“These ads are despicable and false, but fall under First Amendment protections,” Jacob Bender, CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director said in a statement obtained by OnIslam.net.
“The people behind these ads are part of a well-funded nation-wide Islamophobic campaign pushing a clearly hate-inspired message on the citizens of our fair city.
“One can only imagine the revulsion that tens of thousands of Muslim citizens will feel getting onto SEPTA buses.”
Meanwhile, the leading Muslim advocacy group has urged SEPTA to donate the money they have received for promoting these ads to homeless and needy people.
On the other hand, SEPTA vowed not to accept similar ads in the future after changing its ad policy.
“We have to tolerate this for 30 days, but after the 30 days, you’ll never see these types of ads again,” Francis Kelly, assistant general manager at Septa, said.
Although there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to between 6-8 million 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.
Another Economist/YouGov poll found that a large majority of Americans believe that US Muslims are victims of discrimination amid recent attacks against the community.