Colorado Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders stood together in Denver’s main mosque Monday and launched a “Love Thy Neighbor” campaign — starting with ads on [Rapid Transit Denver] buses.
They said the ad they unveiled — at a time on the calendar devoted to love and understanding — is meant to respond to recent national tragedies and to replace anti-Muslim ads placed on buses last month.
“Our country is in the midst of a lot of divisions,” Temple Emanuel Senior Rabbi Joe Black said. “Hatred is only going to further violence and the breakdown of society.”
“Love Thy Neighbor” ads, purchased for $5,000, are expected to appear on 10 buses by the end of this week and stay on each bus for a month.
The “Love Thy Neighbor” message conveys “a shared concept in the three religions,” Colorado Muslim Society Imam Karim Abuzaid said. “In Islam, we are commanded to love our neighbor, or at least act in love.”
When metro-area Muslims saw the negative ads on Regional Transportation District buses in November, “we felt really hurt,” Abuzaid said.
He and Jeremy Shaver, director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, questioned RTD officials about the decision-making of the quasi-governmental organization.
Those ads were placed on buses for four weeks in Denver, New York and Boston. Paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, the ones in Denver read: “9,757 Deadly Islamic Attacks Since 9/11/01. It’s Not Islamophobia. It’s Islamorealism.”
The Anti Defamation League challenged this as offensive and inflammatory. But RTD legal staffers had reviewed the content and found no basis for rejecting the ads.
I agree with the ADL: those ads crossed the line from “anti-Islam as a religion” to anti-Muslim.