Terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) continuously try to twist the teachings of Islam for their own gains. They are hiding behind their own versions of the religion to justify the atrocities they commit all over the world. With terrorists spreading their own versions of Islam, numerous misconceptions have circulated. And as non-Muslims become more and more confused about what Islam really is, it becomes easier for them to blame practitioners of true Islam for the sins of terrorists. Atif Fareed, the president of the AMCC, intends to clear such misconceptions by spreading the true words of Islam through towering billboards spread throughout the major cities of the United States.
Atif Fareed’s billboard campaign was initiated in Orlando and has now spread across other cities such as New York and Denver. The message conveyed by each billboard is different but Fareed says that the common message can be summarized by the following points:
• Muslim Americans are your neighbors.
• Muslim Americans are your doctors.
• Muslim Americans work in the community.
• Muslim Americans pay taxes.
• Muslim Americans are part and parcel of American society.
One of the billboards state that “Muhammad always taught love, not hate; peace, not violence.” This one alone shows that whatever IS and other terror groups are following, it is not true Islam. The real Islam reaches respect of other faiths. And this Islam is the one Muslim Americans are following. Muslim Americans respect other religion and in return want others to also respect theirs. Fareed encourages fellow Muslims especially community leaders to reach out to non-Muslims and initiate camaraderie among people of different faiths.
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AMCC has also created an information center and a website about Islam and Muslim Americans. The toll-free number for the info center as well as the URL of the website can be found on all of the billboards. Everyone, especially non-Muslims, is encouraged to call the number or visit the website if they have any doubts or if they have any questions about Islam. The best way to clear misconceptions is to be clear about the truth. The information center has reported weekly call numbers of more than 800 which makes the campaign a huge success according to Fareed.
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AMCC calls for everyone to withhold judgment for the practices of any faith they know enough about the said faith. Islam is not keeping any secrets. The billboards show that Muslim Americans want all to know more about their faith.