Target: Imam Karim Abuzaid of the Colorado Muslim Society
Goal: Support ad campaign that encourages tolerance between religious groups
Leaders from three different religious organizations in Denver, Colorado recently launched an ad campaign called “Love Thy Neighbor” aimed at encouraging tolerance between religions. The campaign is a response to an anti-Muslim ad that the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) recently placed in several major cities, including Denver, which accuses Muslims of committing thousands of acts of violence in recent years. The Love Thy Neighbor ads are meant to promote the idea of respecting the differences of others, an important teaching that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all share.
In addition to combating the hatred that the AFDI is perpetuating through its ads, the religious leaders behind the Love Thy Neighbor campaign are attempting to respond to the recent increase in gun violence and hate crimes by promoting tolerance between religious groups. The campaign hopes to call attention to the commonalities between these three major religions. While there are fundamentalists in all three religions who focus on the violence that the religions condone, the religions also encourage respect and understanding, and that is what the campaign aims to show Denver residents.
AFDI’s most recent ad claims that Muslims have committed 20,000 acts of violence in the last 10 years, and that advertising this “fact” is not an example of Islamophobia, but of “Islamorealism.” The ad exaggerates the number of violent acts caused by Muslims and incorrectly connects some instances of violence to Islam when the religion is not to blame. By targeting Muslims in general, the ad turns all members of the religion into terrorists, instead of acknowledging that only a small minority of religious extremists act violently.
Whether or not the AFDI used misleading information in its ad, targeting Muslims will only cause more violence and hatred. AFDI’s ads divide communities and increase intolerance, and the Love Thy Neighbor campaign hopes to counteract that division and teach people of different faiths to treat each other respectfully. The organizations that collaborated to launch this campaign deserve praise for working together to reduce violence and encourage tolerance between religious groups.
Dear Imam Karim Abuzaid,
In response to the American Freedom Defense Initiative’s most recent anti-Muslim ad, the Colorado Muslim Society, along with local Jewish and Christian organizations, have launched an ad campaign in hopes of preventing the AFDI’s ad from causing more anti-Muslim violence.
The AFDI falsely accuses Muslims of committing thousands of acts of violence, and encourages those who view the ads to see all followers of Islam as violent extremists. The AFDI refuses to acknowledge that most Muslims, like most Christians and Jews, condemn violence.
The Love Thy Neighbor campaign will remind Denver residents that Islam, Judaism and Christianity all teach the importance of respecting others’ differences and that the best way to reduce violence is to learn to treat all members of the community with compassion. Thank you for your part in establishing this campaign, and for working to promote tolerance and understanding between religious groups.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv via Flickr