Advertisements promoting Islam will be placed in New York City subway
cars for one month beginning in September. Victoria Cavaliere reports
from VOA's New York Bureau that the organizers of the ad campaign say
they hope the ads will clarify some misunderstandings about the Muslim
The subway ad campaign, sponsored by the Islamic
Circle of North America, will roll out on September 15 in 1,000 subway
cars through out New York City's subway system.
The ads are
simple and graphic, using phrases about Islam, such as "Head Scarf" or
"Islam?" The ads then direct riders to a website or to a telephone
hotline to obtain more information about Islam.
the Assistant Secretary General of the Islamic Circle of North America,
said the promotional campaign was timed to coincide with the holy month
of Ramadan. He said the idea is to begin a dialogue with Americans
about the Islamic religion.
"Hopefully it will erase some of the
stereotypes and misconceptions about Islam. It will give people an
avenue to reach someone. Everyone doesn't have a Muslim neighbor or
Muslim co-worker or Muslim friend,even. So for those individuals
especially they will find an opportunity
to speak to a real life Muslim who will represent their faith better than anyone else," he said.
before its debut, the ad campaign has met with some controversy because
one of its sponsors, Brooklyn imam Siraj Wahhaj, was a character
witness for convicted 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind Sheikh
Omar Abdel-Rahman. One New York lawmaker, U.S Representative Peter
King,has urged New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority to reject the
Azeem dismisses criticism of the imam, who was the first
Muslim to lead a prayer before the U.S. House of Representatives. "He's
not controversial to the Muslim community or to anyone who knows him.
He came out of the 60's era. He's one of the foremost leaders of
Muslims in America. Anyone who knows about the work he's done in
Brooklyn, cleaning up the area of Bedford-Stuyvesant, which is a very
rough neighborhood. He got the drug dealers out of there, he increased
economic viability. So all these accusations that are out there
against him are totally false," he said.
The Islamic Circle of
North America is paying $48,000 for the month-long promotion. The
group said a second promotional campaign is in the works.