WASHINGTON, June 11, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today announced the launch of a campaign promoting interfaith unity to counter anti-Islam ads placed on Washington, D.C., area buses by a hate group led by Pamela Geller.
Video: CAIR D.C. Bus Ad Promoting Interfaith Unity
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CAIR also announced an online crowdfunding campaign to defray the cost of the ads, which were made necessary by Geller's false and hate-filled message.
DO YOUR PART: Help Counter Anti-Islam Hate Ads
Geller's ad falsely claims that the Quran encourages Muslims to hate Jews. CAIR's ad, which is appearing on more than 20 buses on routes similar to those carrying Geller's hate advertisement, features a Christian, a Muslim and a Jew stating "this verse speaks for me" in reference to a verse from the Quran stressing Islam's respect for other faiths:
"Verily, those who have attained to faith, as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians…all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds - shall have their reward with their Sustainer; and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve." (2:62)
During the news conference this morning at CAIR's Capitol Hill headquarters in Washington, D.C., Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders repudiated Geller's hate campaign and offered their own alternative message of inclusion and mutual understanding.
- Rabbi Charles M. Feinberg, Congregation Adas Israel, Washington, D.C.; past co-chair of T'ruah
- Rev. Ron Stief, executive director, National Religious Campaign Against Torture
- Seth Morrison, who is featured in the ad
- Nihad Awad, executive director, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
- Zainab Chaudry, chair, CAIR's Maryland outreach office
In a statement prepared for the news conference, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in part:
"We are here today because of the urgent need for all Americans, and particularly our nation's political and religious leaders, to stand against the voices of hatred and bigotry that seek to create divisions in our society and to poison relations between faiths.
"We are here to say that we, as faith leaders and advocates of civil and religious rights, stand united in our desire to strengthen the bonds that made America strong and to build a society based on mutual understanding and respect for diversity.
"Whenever religious hatred is being promoted with falsehoods, it is the duty of faith leaders to respond with a strong message of unity to show the hate-mongers that they inhabit the margins of American society, not the mainstream.
"The desire to challenge misinformation and intolerance brought us together today, but we should not allow our actions to be governed by those who promote hate.
"Instead, we must use this as an opportunity to solidify and strengthen the growing coalition of individuals and groups that embrace our nation's founding ideals."
He noted that there is a growing list of incidents nationwide that can be attributed to the promotion of Islamophobia.
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Awad said Geller's organization, Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). SPLC also named Geller as a member of the "anti-Muslim inner circle."
Her hate ads have been repudiated by interfaith leaders.
SEE: An Antidote for Islamophobia
In 2012, a broad-based coalition of 127 organizations sent a letter to the Washington Area Metro Transit Authority (WMATA) expressing concern about Geller's previous anti-Muslim advertisements.
A CAIR ad placed to counter Geller's 2012 campaign featured a verse from the Quran stating: "Show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant." (The Holy Quran, 7:199)
Video: D.C. Metro Riders React Positively to CAIR Quran Ad Text (Fox)
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations