Pamella Geller and her fellow Islamophobes made headlines a few weeks ago with their vitriolic anti-Muslim advertisements in NYC subway stations and else where. Their message equated  Muslims to “savages” and “jihad” to terrorism. To respond to this bigotry , a remarkable group of Christians and Jews have started a counter campaign which encourages tolerance and love for Muslims.

Exemplifying the motto of 'Love Thy Neighbor', campaign organizers have leased out advertising space in subway stations to put up posters which counter the message of the anti-Muslim ads. One of them reads: “In the choice between love and hate, CHOOSE LOVE. Help stop bigotry against our Muslim neighbors.”  Another one says: “Hate Speech is not civilized. Support peace in word and deed”. The last one states quite simply,  “Love your Muslim neighbors”.

This outstanding initiative was headed by Rabbi's For Human RightsSojourners – a Christian social justice group and United Methodist Women. Each of the three groups ran separate advertisements urging tolerance and denouncing the bigoted message of Gellar's ads. The groups said their campaigns were coincidental. At some locations, their ads were placed immediately adjacent to the anti-Muslim posters. This juxtaposition is reflective of the unique experiment that is America; the very good of its people and the very ugly, existing side by side.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs explained the purpose of her campaign, “I want to spread the message that 1800 rabbis– along with the majority of the American Jewish community–believes in partnership with our Muslim neighbors. We, of course, oppose all acts of terrorism. We will not, however, allow the actions of a small minority to be an excuse for dehumanizing an entire people.” Following the spirit of the of the Golden Rule, she further explained, “We know what it's like to be a minority and we know what it's like to be the target of discrimination, and that's why, as Jews, because of that history, we have more of a responsibility to speak out when anyone is being discriminated against.”

The past several weeks have been challenging for American Muslims. The anti-American riots across the Muslim world and the killing of the American Ambassador to Libya  has lead to a great degree of apprehension in the community. From suspicious glances to clandestine conversations; Muslims were the talk of the town. Being inundated with stories like that of the Joplin Mosque which was burned down, one naturally begins to feel alienated and questions their standing in the public's eye.

This campaign is enough reason to throw away those apprehensive feelings. Its a testament to the good of the American people, the vast majority of whom stand by their Muslim neighbors and will speak up to defend them. Stories like these need to be broadcast across to the Muslim world; this is what America is made of- not the pervert who produced the shameful movie debasing the Prophet.

Lastly, this campaign demonstrates the importance of exercising the power that rests in the moderate silent majority. These people could have very well decided to shrug their shoulders apathetically or perhaps just nod with disappointment like most of us. Why bother explaining that extremists like Geller don't represent Jews? They could have complained about finances associated with leasing ad space and a million other things.

But No! They decided to speak up, to make their voices heard. They realized that the cost of remaining silent was not worth it. For them, making fellow citizens feel welcome in their own land was something important enough to invest time and money in  - and it should be for the remainder of us. This campaign is an important lesson for the Muslim community on the impact raising our voices can have. Faced too frequently with the negative externalities of religion, this episode reaffirms the generosity, goodness and goodwill that rests at the root of religious teaching and is urgently in need of revival.

 Actions Items: Call/Write to the campaign organizers thanking them for their efforts 

Rabbis for Human Rights-North America
212-845-5201
Email: office@rhr-na.org

United Methodist Women
Harriett Jane Olson – Deputy General Secretary
212-870-3752
Email” HOlson@unitedmethodistwomen.org

Sojourners
Phone: 202-328-8842 or 1-800-714-7474
E-mail: sojourners@sojo.net

 

 

12 Responses

  1. Jia

    Subhanallah! What a wonderful example these Jewish and Christian leaders have set! It’s something we Muslims can learn a lot from also. Very moving post :)

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  2. Um Aneesa

    Sent them a thank you email appreciating their efforts. Establish the good and write to them!

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    • kamg6

      people can disagree on many things other than just religion…so I disagree, just look at politics.

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    • Infidelicious

      How about: love your Muslim brother, he’s an innocent victim of Islam ? Better abandon religion and see each others as human beings first.

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  3. Rabbi Alana Suskin

    Let people know:there’s going to be a counter protest in DC at the Glenmont metro this Wednesday from 5:30-7. We will be peacefully and lovingly holding signs that ask people to choose a better way and to support our Muslim fellow citizens, colleagues and friends.
    Find me on facebook for more info.

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  4. Amanda

    “Lastly, this campaign demonstrates the importance of exercising the power that rests in the moderate silent majority.”

    Faith in humanity restored =)

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  5. Gashu

    As a christian I’m totally in support of the three groups and that is what christianity actually teachs. I hope our muslim brothers will not waste time to denouce publically any act of violence in the name of defending Islam.

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  6. Mohammad Danish Khan

    This is the need of Hour.. Please raise your concern for the unjust happening at Burma. with the Rohingya. They are Muslim people who live in the state of Rakhine (Arakan) in western Myanmar (Burma). According to the UN, they are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

    Rohingya who have been living for centuries in Burma have still not been granted citizenship of the country.

    For the last quarter of a year, over 100,000 people have been left displaced since June of this year alone.

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  7. S.Aktar

    This has literally made my day. Human beings are remarkable, we’re capable of absolutely appalling acts of horror and then there’s stuff like this, which just make you amazed at human’s capacity for kindness. :)

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  8. Wael Abdelgawad

    It’s heart-warming to read about this. Thank you brother Waleed for letting us know.

    However, I don’t know if it’s true that these individuals represent the “moderate silent majority”. More like the moral minority, I think.

    Also, it is not sufficient reason for Muslims to stop being apprehensive. Attacks and hate-crimes against Muslims in the USA are at all-time highs. We need to be vigilant, emphasize security at our masjids and events, and (in my opinion) learn personal defense skills.

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