Religion

Muslim Group's Billboard: 'Making America Great' (Photo)

| by Michael Doherty

Muslim leaders have sparked a debate with new billboards promoting Islam.

The signs, which read, "Making America Great with Love, Compassion & Mercy," are a play on President Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again," and also resemble the Trump-Pence campaign logo, reports WTVT.

The signs, which include a phone number and a link to a website called Why Islam, were installed to line up with the Islamic holy period called Ramadan, according to Stepfeed.

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The website offers information about Islam and volunteer opportunities, in addition to free copies of the Koran, WFLA reports.

The Islamic Circle of North America, a volunteer group which provides services to refugees in addition to feeding the homeless and running women's shelters, has posted about 30 of the signs around the country.

"Everyone in [the U.S.] is making America great when we all work together to serve neighbors and solve our problems," said a spokesperson for the organization's Florida branch.

"Let's start getting to know each other," said Hassan Shibly, the executive director for CAIR-Florida. "Let's not let misinformation divide us."

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Shibly added that CAIR has documented a 500 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes in Florida over the past year.

"ISIS is the biggest enemy of Islam," Shibly said. "Let's start getting to know each other. Let's not let misinformation divide us."

"Let's just get to know each other and see each other as human beings," Shibly continued. "What makes America great is the fact that it brings people together from all over the world that share all different beliefs, political opinions and even religions."

"But throughout diversity, that's where we find our strength as Americans and that's what makes America great," Shibly added.

While some in Tampa appreciated the billboard's message, others said that they did not.

"It's a good billboard. I like it," said Martha Hughes. "I hope it stays longer than some of them."

"I don't care for it," said Steven Hughes. "If it represents promoting the Islam stuff. I don't condone it."

Anti-Muslim attacks have been on the rise since the presidential election, according to Vox. In May, a man fatally stabbed two men who tried to stop a man from yelling what police described as "hate speech toward a variety of ethniticies and religions" at two girls, one of whom was wearing a hijab.

Ricky John Best, 53, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, were killed in the attack, which also seriously injured another man, Micah Fletcher. Jeremy Joseph Christian was arrested for the stabbing. He was charged with two counts of aggravated murder and one count of attempted murder.

Sources: WTVT, WFLA, Stepfeed, Vox / Photo credit: Pixabay, ICNA Florida via WFLA

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