Muslim group sets up anti-terrorism billboards in Chicago

A local Chicago Muslim group has purchased ad space to combat both terrorism and Islamophobia, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The following message is displayed on separate billboards, one located on Interstate 290, the other on I-55: “Muslims to Muslims: See Something. Say Something. Save Innocent Lives.”

The Association of Pakistani Americans of Bolingbrook sponsored the advertisements, adding to the list of positive cultural influences the group has had on the area of the past 20 years.

Talat Rashid, the founder of the group, says that the ads attempt to show Americans that the vast majority of Muslims do not condone violence in any way. “If we see anyone in our community that is off track, we will let the authorities know.”

But not all Muslim leaders in the area are in favor of this approach. Some think that they will perpetuate hurtful stereotypes.

Mohammed Kaiseruddin, chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, says that the billboards are too vague. “See something” could imply profiling, he says. “And say something? Say to who?”

The Cook County Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Management asked Kaiseruddin to promote the slogan, but he has refused, arguing that the signs could lead to the reporting of innocent people like the 14-year-old Texas boy whose teacher suspected that the clock he built was actually a bomb.

GainPeace is another Muslim outreach group, and they have also purchased ad space to spread a positive message about their community. Their signs read “Muslims Condemn All Violence.” Nothing vague there, as the group hoped to be very clear with their message.

More than 400,000 Muslims live in the greater Chicago area. Over the last five years, Kaiseruddin reports, eight young Muslims have been arrested on charges of providing support to terrorist organizations, and only two have pled guilty. The other cases are still pending, leaving the individuals and their families in limbo.

All the Muslim groups involved hope that the various billboards will promote awareness and ease Islamophobia in the area.

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