A billboard that appeared in Indiana at the start of Ramadan has been condemned by local Muslims who say it disparages their prophet Mohammed and is intended to incite religious hatred.
According to this report, the “Perfect Man” sign can be seen from an Indiana highway on the east side of Indianapolis.
Said Rima Shahid, Executive Director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana:
It is a horrible billboard. I’m outraged by it, but saddened at the same time … and I would like to know who is behind it. It seems very cowardly to me. If you have some kind of stance, you should want to stand up next to your statement. I didn’t think there was any room for hate in our city. This billboard tells me otherwise.
This kind of rhetoric just furthers division in our state and makes a neighbor question a neighbor, just like I am today.
Shahid said the billboard, which she saw on southbound Interstate 465, was brought to her attention last Friday by an anonymous tipster.
At the bottom of the billboard in yellow sits the words “Educate Truthophobes.” A search of Truthophobes online leads to multiple anti-Muslim groups, specifically an Australian group with similar messaging.
US Represenative Andre Carson said he believes the billboard is untrue and that the billboard’s author takes Islamic text and history out of context:
Just like al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Klan do to religious texts to justify their bigotry.
Faryal Khatri, a spokeswoman for the Indianapolis-based Islamic Society of North America, said not only is the billboard not true, it is hurtful to her as a practicing Muslim.
Carson said he is disappointed that people have decided to use their free speech protections as a platform:
To spread hateful, vile things that are divisive to people. I think there’s a way to debate and be socratic without being disrespectful or undermining people and causing a sense of isolation.
Carson called on people in the faith community to “come together and say this is unacceptable,” especially in light of an upcoming “March Against Sharia,” that is scheduled to occur in 28 American cities — including Chicago, Indianapolis, New York and San Bernardino, California this week.
The event is organised by a group called ACT for America, a self-described grassroots national security organisation, which states:
Sharia is incompatible with our Constitution and with American values. We stand against female genital mutilations and child marriages.
A representative from ACT was not available for comment.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn