Target: Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago
Goal: Support ad campaign that educates the public about Islam
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) recently started a campaign in Chicago called “MyJihad” to educate the public about the true definition of the term “jihad.” While extremists have led many Americans to believe that jihad is synonymous with holy war, the term is most often used by moderate Muslims to describe the struggles that people go through in their everyday lives to overcome obstacles and become better people.
The ads show that the aspirations and struggles of Muslim-Americans are similar to those of many other Americans, and include such goals as taking care of one’s health, dealing with loss, avoiding prejudice, and encouraging tolerance. CAIR hopes to show Chicago residents, and eventually the residents of other major cities, that most Muslims are not inspired by their religion to commit acts of violence, but to improve their own lives and the lives of other members of their communities.
To encourage Americans to join in the effort to reclaim the term jihad, CAIR has started a related campaign on social media sites to allow people to express their goals and struggles using the term jihad. By expressing these objectives in Islamic terms, non-Muslims realize that they can relate to Muslims, and they are given the opportunity to see jihad as a positive ideology instead of the stereotypes that it is often associated with.
The campaign is partly a response to Islamophobic ads that the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) has been placing in major cities around the country. These ads explicitly connect Muslims and Palestinians with terrorism and support the misguided notion that Islam requires its followers to act violently. The ads offensively refer to Muslims as “savages” and call on Americans to “defeat jihad.”
CAIR’s ads inform Chicago residents that Muslim-Americans have the same desires as most other Americans, and expose AFDI’s ads as anti-Muslim propaganda. CAIR should be commended for using its campaign to encourage unity between religious groups, and for challenging anti-Muslim stereotypes and countering the belief that Islam is a violent religion.
Dear Mr. Rehab,
I would like to commend you and CAIR-Chicago on your new ad campaign educating the public about the true definition of jihad. Many Americans believe the stereotype that Islam encourages violence and that the extremist minority is representative of the religion. These ads allow the residents of Chicago to see how the majority of Muslims interpret their religion.
The campaign challenges anti-Muslim stereotypes and will allow Muslim-Americans to express their faith in Islam without arousing suspicion from those who are ignorant about its teachings. The ads will help Chicago residents realize that this important element of Islam is something that people of every faith can relate to.
The MyJihad campaign shows Americans that anti-Muslim stereotypes are not true, and will bring about interfaith unity and understanding between groups within the community. Thank you for bringing this campaign to Chicago and for working to encourage tolerance and defeat prejudices around the country.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Beth Rankin via Flickr