Target: Temple Emanuel Senior Rabbi Joe Black; Colorado Muslim Society Imam Karim Abuzaid; and Jeremy Shaver, director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado
Goal: Applaud multi-faith leaders for peaceful and heartfelt response to Islamophobic advertising.
In a country increasingly fraught with Islamophobic tensions, three religious leaders in Denver, Colorado–Rabbi Joe Black, Imam Karim Abuzaid, and Jeremy Shaver, director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado–have joined together to counter recent Islamophobic bus ads with spots that emphasize messages of love rather than fear and hatred. Sign the petition to thank Rabbi Black, Imam Abuzaid, and Mr. Shaver for responding peacefully to hateful words and spreading a message of tolerance.
In November, bus advertisements in Boston, New York, and Denver displayed messages from the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), an anti-Muslim hate group. The group’s actions have been condemned by both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. However, blocking anti-Muslim bus ads from appearing has proved virtually impossible for transportation authorities, since the AFDI has successfully sued over what it sees as infringement of its First Amendment rights.
Since the ads cannot be rejected by authorities, religious leaders in Colorado sought the next-best solution: a thoughtful and straightforward rebuttal of the hateful ads put forth by the AFDI. The new ads state the golden rule, “love thy neighbor,” as it appears in the Bible, the Torah, and the Qur’an and emphasize a message of love and acceptance. These advertisements stand in stark contrast to the AFDI’s inflammatory advertising, which promoted messages like: “9,757 Deadly Islamic Attacks Since 9/11/01. It’s Not Islamophobia. It’s Islamorealism.”
“When we see hate speech, it is incumbent on us who are in the majority to call it out,” said Mr. Shaver, director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado. Sign the petition to commend Mr. Shaver, Imam Abuzaid, and Rabbi Black for not only calling out hatred, but for countering with messages of love and tolerance.
Dear Mr. Shaver, Imam Abuzaid, and Rabbi Black,
I am writing to thank you for your response to recent Islamophobic bus advertisements in Denver. Your own advertisements, which counter messages of hate and suspicion with ones of love and acceptance, should be a role model for others around the country who encounter hateful messages like those spread by the American Freedom Defense Initiative.
No one should ever have to walk past an advertisement that belittles his or her religious beliefs. No one should be castigated over the actions of a far-away stranger who just happens to follow the same religion. No one should be made to feel less than human for having beliefs that do not agree with those of others.
What your ad campaign does so simply and beautifully is point out that people of different religions need not view one another with fear and suspicion, as followers of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all share a common history and many basic beliefs. Your advertisements peacefully but decisively undermine the hate speech of the AFDI, and for that, I offer my deep admiration and gratitude.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Skley via Flicker