On TV, an Everyday Muslim as Everyday American

The screen showed a balding man with tawny skin and a salt-and-pepper goatee, and seconds later it spelled out his name: Mujahid Abdul-Rashid. The advertisement went on to show him fishing, playing in a yard with two toddlers, and sitting down to a family meal.

One week later, again during an N.F.L. game, the same commercial appeared. This time I listened to the words. The advertisement was for Prudential’s financial products for retirees. Mr. Abdul-Rashid was talking about his own retirement after 19 years as a clothing salesman, and the family time he now intended to enjoy.

“That’s my world,” he said over that closing shot of the family dinner.

What I had just seen was something rare and laudable: what seems to be the first mass-market product commercial featuring an identifiably Muslim person not as a security risk, not as a desert primitive, but as an appealing, everyday American.

As if to underscore the point, the Prudential commercial with Mr. Abdul-Rashid was appearing on television during the same period last fall that saw two widespread commercial campaigns vilifying Muslims. One was the series of ads on New York subways and buses placed by a group led by Pamela Geller, the outspoken blogger and critic of Islam, which depicted a worldwide conflict between the civilized West and Islamic “savages.” The other was the billboard during the presidential campaign that showed President Obama submissively kissing the hand of a sheik.

Then, during the Super Bowl last weekend, a Coca-Cola commercial trotted out the stereotype of the Arab on camelback.

An aphorism says that no good deed shall go unpunished. You can only hope that Prudential’s silence about its own admirable commercial isn’t an example, in a nation where Islamophobia persists, of a good deed that is being disavowed.

Sixth Circuit: Michigan Can Ban Anti-Islam Ads from Buses

A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that a Michigan transit authority could bar from the side of its buses an advertisement that read: “Fatwa on your head? Is your family or community threatening you? Leaving Islam? Got Questions? Get Answers! RefugefromIslam.com”

The group behind the ads is the the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which describes its mission as acting “against the treason being committed by national, state, and local government officials, the mainstream media, and others in their capitulation to the global jihad and Islamic supremacism.”

The group had sought in 2010 to place the ads on the buses in Michigan’s four southeastern-most counties, but the authority refused, on the grounds that the ads violated a policy against political advertisements and offensive speech.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit said Thursday said that the side of the bus, in this case, wasn’t a public forum because the transit authority – Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, or SMART – rejected all political advertisements. The state never opened the space for discourse.

Protesters denounce Metro North ads as Islamophobic, call on MTA to rethink campaign

WHITE PLAINS — As supporters held up signs protesting Islamophobia, a coalition of community leaders and residents gathered downtown Thursday to denounce anti-Muslim advertisements posted at Metro-North stations throughout Westchester County.

The coalition revealed its plan to counter the anti-Islamic campaign, calling on Metro-North to distance itself from the advertisement and donate revenue earned from its publication to an organization that combats extremism.

Paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative — a group led by Pamela Geller — the ads associate the religion of Islam with 19,250 terrorist attacks carried out by extremists since Sept 11, 2001. Printed in large block lettering on a dark background, an asterisk denotes that number is rising, and a slogan below reads: “It’s not Islamophobia, it’s Islamorealism.”

Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to publicly denounce the signs, suggesting a disclaimer be placed on Metro-North platforms saying the agency does not support the advertisement.

Marjorie Anders, a spokeswoman for Metro-North Railroad, said it does not endorse the viewpoint expressed in the ad but refrains from banning advertising based on its message. Anders added that the railroad relies on advertising to generate revenue. MTA chairman and CEO, Joseph Lhota, has indicated the agency will discuss its policies on political ads later this month.

Ad criticizing Muslim chaplain at WFU draws fire

An alumnus from Wake Forest University who took out an advertisement in Monday’s Winston-Salem Journal criticizing Imam Khalid Griggs, a university chaplain, said he did so as a way of pushing his alma mater into playing host to a debate on Shariah law.

In the ad, which ran the day of Wake Forest’s graduation, Donald Woodsmall claims that Griggs is a “Shariah supremacist who believes that everyone should live under Islamic Shariah law, with Islamic law replacing all man-made laws, including the U.S. Constitution.”

Griggs did not return emails and a phone call. Brett Eaton, a spokesman for Wake Forest, said the university would not comment on the ad.

For the past several months, Woodsmall has tried to get President Nathan Hatch to consent to a symposium on Shariah law, the moral code and religious law of Islam. Woodsmall believes Muslims who adhere to Shariah are a threat to national security.

His correspondences with Hatch have also included accusations that Griggs is following the ideology of the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center.

Jeffrey Green, the Journal’s president and publisher, said: “We treated this ad the same way we do political advertising. The ad was the opinion of the individual that bought the space. He paid for it and signed his name to it.”

NJ mosque uses NYPD surveillance to emphasize in an ad campaign that it has nothing to hide

NEWARK, N.J. — The leader of a New Jersey mosque that was listed in a secret NYPD surveillance report is using the incident to try and recruit new members and promote a more positive view of Muslims.

Imam Mustafa El-Amin of Masjid Ibrahim in Newark ran an advertisement Thursday in The Star-Ledger newspaper urging people to read the Quran, denouncing terrorism and emphasizing that his mosque has an “open door” policy.

Under a bold-letter headline that reads: “NYPD Surveillance of Muslim Community,” the ad says there’s no need for the NYPD or any other agency to conduct secret surveillance of the mosque, because: “We have nothing to hide. Our doors are open.”

El-Amin says he came up with the idea after reflecting on a phrase in the Quran — “With every difficulty, there is relief” — and realizing that finding a positive, teachable moment out of a negative experience is a concept deeply rooted in Islam.

“We’ve heard a lot about the negative effects, but once you get this level of exposure, one of the best things about it is, if you’re positive, than the positive will win out,” he said.

Attendance at El-Amin’s largely African-American mosque, housed in a converted storefront along a gritty commercial strip in Newark, has not waned in light of the NYPD revelations, he said. Nevertheless, he felt compelled to run the ad for a variety of reasons: to attract new people to the mosque — potential Muslim converts, law enforcement officials or people of any faith wanting to learn more about Islam — to emphasize the mosque’s long-running stance against terrorism, and to set non-Muslims at ease, especially those who were once friendly to the mosque but are now wary of visiting Muslim businesses or mosques that were listed in the NYPD report.

Controversial ad spurs debate in Toronto

News agencies – April 4, 2012

A Muslim advertisement stating “There is no god but Allah” has started a vigorous debate amongst TTC riders and sparked a review from the Toronto Transit Commission Advertising Commission Group. After five complaints were made, a working group including Councillor Karen Stintz has decided to allow the advertisement to remain in the Kennedy subway station.

According to the Islam Info Centre, the ad — posted in January — is aimed at raising religious awareness. They have not received any complaints directly. In fact, he said they have been receiving many more visitors inquiring about the religion.

Charles McVety, president of the Canada Family Action Coalition, said it is offensive to all non-Muslims.

Tarek Fatah, founder of the Canadian Muslim Congress, does not agree with the ad, either. “This is what is called the declaration of belief. It basically reads ‘There is no god but God,’” he said.

But the Muslim group translated part of the text into English, and left “Allah,” an Islam word for god, as is.

New York Times Says Running Pam Geller’s Anti-Islam Ad Could Put Lives In Danger

The New York Times found itself at the center of a controversy on Thursday over its refusal to immediately run an anti-Islam ad.

Fox News and the Daily Caller ran stories questioning whether the Times’ decision to indefinitely delay publishing ad was a sign the paper had a religious double-standard.

The articles note that the Times previously ran an anti-Catholic ad that, among other things, said faith in the religion was misplaced, “after two decades of sex scandals involving preying priests, church complicity, collusion and cover-up going all the way to the top.”

But when Stop Islamization of America director Pamela Geller asked to run a paid advertisement with a similar style and anti-Islam message, the Times refused, at least for now, telling Geller that “the fallout from running this ad now could put U.S. troops and/or civilians in the [Afghan] region in danger.”

But the Times didn’t shut the door to running the ad altogether.

Geller told the Daily Caller she doubts the Times will ever run the ad because, in her words, “when is it ever a good time to blaspheme under the Sharia?”

Mediaite isn’t buying the Times’ argument either.

“The bottom line is that both ads are terrible, and justifying that it’s safer to bash one religion over another is a tactless approach on the Times’s part,” Mediaite wrote.

Muslim Extremists Accused of Obscuring Bikini Advert

13.05.2011
In the Balsall Heath area of Birmingham, an advertisement for bikinis by the high-street retailer H&M, showing a bikini model on a beach, has been blacked out with spray paint. More specifically, the body and the face of model have been covered up with black paint. As the area has a large population, local residents speculate that the act of vandalism was a religiously-motivated attack, carried out by Muslim extremists who were offended by the scantily-dressed model. The police also believe that extremists who object to women in swimsuits or bikinis are responsible for this act.

FPÖ Uses Furious Schwarzer as Election Support against Islam

27-28 September 2010
The Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) now seems prepared to resort to anything for the upcoming elections in Vienna. In a recent campaign advertisement the FPÖ use a quote from the well-known German feminist Alice Schwarzer; however, the FPÖ did not ask Schwarzer for her permission, while Schwarzer is not even sure that the quote is actually from her. The quote attributed to her is: “These people, the Islamists, we need to understand them as what they are – our enemies. And we must fight them politically.”
In response to the FPÖ’s actions Schwarzer wrote that she would not have allowed the FPÖ to use her in a campaign advertisement if they had asked her. While she stated that she may at some time have said something similar, she emphasized the necessity of distinguishing between Muslims and Islamists. Finally, she went on to criticize the main democratic parties in Europe for having left the theme of Islam to right-wing populists, such as the FPÖ.

London taxis to extol virtues of Islam

The purple, pink and green sign on the yellow London taxi reads: “The rights of women are sacred.” This is not some spiritual feminist mantra born of the New Age, but comes out of one of the most traditional religions in the world.

The advertisement marks the launch of a campaign to promote a positive image of Islam, a religion not widely known for its promotion of the rights of women. The negative view of a faith followed by nearly 1.6 billion people, or one fifth of the world’s population, is the main reason for the launch of the Inspired by Muhammad campaign.

After a new poll showed that 58 per cent of people associate Islam with extremism and 50 per cent with terrorism, the campaign is intended to promote a positive Islamic message about the environment and social justice as well as women. The campaign was launched by the Exploring Islam Foundation, a new and privately funded group run by young British Muslim professionals.