Organization launches billboard campaign to promote unity

June 10, 2011 3:38:37 PM PDT
You'll start to see new billboards going up across Houston with a message about unity, part of a new campaign to help stop anti-Muslim sentiment. It's all coming as we approach the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. It's an effort that's getting attention from other major cities across the country.

Houston is the first to see these billboards go up. There are 10 of them across the city. The hope now is that you'll start to see these billboards across Texas and across America.

"Proud Americans, proud Texans, proud Muslims" -- that's the message on 10 new billboards across Houston erected by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

"This pro-active campaign is designed to promote mutual understanding and to highlight the contributions of American Muslims to our society," said CAIR-Houston Executive Director Mustafaa Carroll. "We've gotten calls from Chicago and LA and DC and many other states that are all excited about the possibility of having a similar campaign in their area."

The idea is to curb anti-Islamic sentiment by showing you that Muslims are contributing members of the community. Some of the billboards feature a service member and former Houston City Council Member MJ Kahn.

"I think this campaign will help our society come together and our communities come together," said Kahn.

According to CAIR, civil rights complaints and hate crimes against Muslims soared across the U.S. following 9/11.

Recent examples here in Houston include attempts at burning down mosques, and bullying in schools after news of Osama bin Laden's death.

"We don't think that a billboard is gonna fix things, but it's definitely going to set the tone for what we hope is more to come," Carroll said.

And what's to come, they hope, is a path to peace. Starting with these billboards right here in Houston.

"It's a really good billboard and a message to send out there that we're not terrorists and we're not for terrorism. Islam is a religion of peace," said Adenike Abass, a Muslim Houstonian.

The campaign will run from now until September.

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