CAIRO - Rejecting inflammatory message of anti-Islam ads in America's subways, two Christian and Jewish groups are hanging pro-Muslim posters next to the provocative ads to condemn intolerance and celebrate the city's diversity.
"We wanted to make it clear that it is in response to the anti-Islam ad," said Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights, whose members include rabbis from all streams of Judaism, New York Times reported.
Jacobs' Rabbis for Human Rights - North America and the group Sojourners, led by the Christian author and social-justice advocate Jim Wallis, are unveiling their campaigns on Monday.
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Their ads will be placed near the anti-jihad ads in the same Manhattan subway stations.
The groups said their campaigns were coincidental.
The new love ads were suggested following an inflammatory advertisement equating Jihad to savagery appeared in ten subway stations in New York City.
The original ad says, "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad."
The ad by Rabbis for Human Rights says, "In the choice between love and hate, choose love. Help stop bigotry against our Muslim neighbors."
The Sojourners ad says, "Love your Muslim neighbors."
Another Christian group, United Methodist Women, an affiliate of the United Methodist Church, has placed similar ads in the same 10 Manhattan stations where the anti-jihad appears.
The ads, which went up on Wednesday, say, "Hate speech is not civilized. Support peace in word and deed."
Sponsored by the pro-Israel American Freedom Defense Initiative, the provocative ad appeared after the Metropolitan Transit Authority lost a bid to refuse to post it for violating the agency's policy against demeaning language.
Last week, the authority changed its advertising rules to ban ads that could "imminently incite or provoke violence or other immediate breach of the peace."
The new ads "are accepted and conform with our guidelines," Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the authority
"The MTA doesn't endorse any of the ads we carry."
Launching the counter-hate campaign, Rabbi Jacobs rejected the hate ads sponsored by Pamela Geller, the executive director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative.
"Geller thinks she is speaking for the entire Jewish community, Rabbi Jacobs said.
We are a group of 1,800 rabbis and we want everyone to know that we have to work in partnership with the Muslim community and do not believe in dehumanizing them."
The Christian group, Sojourners, said that a message of love should stand in the face of hate campaigns.
"An essential tenet of Christianity is to love our neighbors," Sojourners' campaigns manager, the Rev. Beau Underwood, said.
"In the face of religious extremism, the best response is to treat others like we would want to be treated. Our ad campaign has a simple message that is at the heart of our faith."
Sojourners, together with some local interfaith communities, recently put up "Love your Muslim neighbors" billboards in Joplin, Mo., where a mosque was burned in August.
A Sojourners solicitation for donations says: "Hateful anti-Muslim ads only result in violence, hatred, and more fear. Everyone - regardless of race, religion, or creed - deserves to feel welcome & safe when riding public transit in the United States."
Since 9/11, Muslims, estimated between six to seven million, have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith.
Anti-Muslim sentiments sharply grew in the United States over plans to build a mosque near the 9/11 site in New York, resulting in attacks on Muslims and their property.
A recent report by CAIR and the University of California said that Islamophobia is on the rise in the US.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net