Al Jazeera: Fighting Islamophobia with #MyJihad

A new public education campaign countering anti-Muslim stereotypes launched this week in the US city of Chicago. “My Jihad” advertisements, sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, will appear on 25 public buses featuring Muslims’ interpretations of the term “jihad”. In the United States, the term is often synonymous with “holy war” against Western countries and non-Muslims.

My Jihad’s Facebook page calls for “taking back Jihad, one hashtag at a time, from anti-Muslim and Muslim extremists”. From the website:

MyJihad is a public education campaign that seeks to share the proper meaning of Jihad as believed and practiced by the majority of Muslims. Jihad means “struggling in the way of God.” The way of God, being goodness, justice, passion, compassion, etc. It is putting up the good fight against whatever odds or barriers you face in your life.

The ads range from religious interpretations to personal battles, reflecting the wide range of meanings of “jihad”, which literally means “struggle.”

Muslims and non-Muslims alike wrote personal “My Jihad” posts on Twitter and Facebook.

My Jihad to is to volunteer for this inspiring campaign with all sincerity from the heart and not from a place of reaction to others or anger. Even the most sincere Muslims can misinterpret Islam on their spiritual journeys. Non-Muslims certainly are not going to define my Islamic faith for me.

#MyJihad is praying for you even when you may be praying against me.
Sarah Sun@peacefulrays

My Jihad, as a proud Jewish American, is to support this peaceful campaign to eradicate fear, hatred, misinformation and negative stereotyping through a message of tolerance, education, and compassion.

Others were more sceptical.

New definition of “jihad” = “concerted effort with the purpose of getting to a better place”. Right. is.gd/CbyaDE #tcot #islam
PuterPrsn@PuterPrsn

Civilian Jihad at its best: “Jihad means ‘getting to a better place’ says CAIR” dailycaller.com/2012/12/14/… Jihad IS Islams’ Holy War. #tcot #ccot
Fren@webav

The “My Jihad” bus ads follow a series of anti-Islamic advertisements that have appeared on public transportation around the United States.

Earlier this year, the American Freedom Defense Initiative spearheaded an inflammatory advertising campaign to “defeat jihad”, which characterised opponents of Israel as “savage”. Those advertisements appeared in a limited number of New York subway stations and were widely defaced soon after their placement. AFDI co-founder Pamela Geller, a blogger known for her confrontational criticisms of Islam, called My Jihad a “contemptuous propaganda campaign” in a blog post describing AFDI’s next anti-Islam advertising campaign, shown below.

The ads will be AFDI’s largest advertising buy to date, and will appear next to over 200 clocks in New York City subway stations for the month of January. Geller wrote in her blog post that the ads would be much harder to deface because the clocks hang from the ceiling of the stations, as she illustrated with this preview of the ads:

Twitter reactions to the My Jihad ads praised the positive message contrasting them with Geller’s ads.

#America: New positive Ads on buses in #Chicago & soon in other US cities; much better than Geller’s Ads #Islam #Jihad http://pic.twitter.com/jf9Dotuf
Bayan@BintBattuta87

American Muslims found an original way to fight Islamophobia myjihad.org/
tania@tanjatania

PHOTO: NYC’s Next Islamophobic Subway Ad huff.to/XixN3c While it is free speech, couldn’t the #MTA refuse to sell ad space to Geller?

For the full article with images and video: http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/fighting-islamophobia-myjihad-0022440