The anti-Islam campaign in the United States took a serious turn when a number of New York buses hit the city streets Wednesday bearing large advertisements inviting Muslim to abandon their religion.
Pamela Geller, 51, an ultraconservative woman who heads “Stop Islamisation of America” organisation, paid thousands of dollars for the bus ads. She said the ads were meant to help provide resources for Muslims who are fearful of leaving the faith.
“Fatwa on your head? Is your community or family threatening you? Leaving Islam?” the ads posed the questions that have angered Muslims here.
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Geller, who is Jewish, is also leading the fight against the proposed mosque at Ground Zero mosque, which won the city’s community board’s approval Wednesday after a contentious debate.
Meanwhile, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a prominent Washington-based Muslim advocacy and civil rights group, has denounced the bus ad campaign.
Faiza Ali, head of CAIR’s New York chapter, said the ads were based on a false premise that people face coercion to remain with Islam. She said Muslims believe faith that is forced is not true belief. “Geller is free to say what she likes just as concerned community members are free to criticise her motives,” Faiza said. Geller has a history of speaking out against Muslims, and the ads are “a smoke screen to advance her longstanding history of anti-Muslim bigotry,” Faiza added.