Mosque Furor, Quran Burning: Anti-Islamic Fervor Mobilizes US Muslims

Article excerpt

Even before the outrage over a planned Quran burning, American Muslim groups have been mounting an offensive against a rise in anti- Islamic sentiment, taking to the airwaves to provide a more peaceful view of Islam.

With the emotional uproar over plans to build an Islamic community center near ground zero raging, a canceled Quran burning in Florida, and protests against mosques across the country, American Muslims are stepping up public-relations efforts to counter what many observers see as a growing anti-Islam fervor.

The campaigns are not coordinated. Rather, the renewed efforts reflect a sense across various Muslim communities that nearly a decade after 9/11, anti-Islam sentiment is a growing threat that must be taken seriously.

"You saw some anti-Muslim views after 9/11, but they were relegated to the fringes of society where they should be," said Ibrahim Hooper, communications director for the Council on American- Islamic Relations, or CAIR. "Now anti-Muslim sentiment has really been mainstreamed."

WATCH VIDEO: Build a 'mosque' near ground zero?

Among the campaigns:

- On Sept. 1, CAIR launched an advertising campaign featuring Muslims who were among the first responders to the 9/11 attacks. The TV ads are a direct response to the "wave of anti-Muslim hysteria" triggered by Park51, the beleaguered Islamic center and mosque slated for two blocks from ground zero, Mr. Hooper said.

- In California, Michigan, Wisconsin, and elsewhere, members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community have spent the last two months walking the streets and going door-to-door with brochures that read: "Muslims for Peace. Love for All - Hatred for None." In New York, the group took out bus ads with the same message.

- And in Virginia, a group of Muslims came up with the concept for over Ramadan fast-breaking dinners. The website features a 60-second video, shot in a Washington, D.C., mosque Aug. 27, with several dozen American Muslims reading from a script that begins: "In recent weeks, a lot of people have been telling you what to think about Muslims. …


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