CAIRO - Sending a love message enshrined by Christmas spirit, faith leaders representing Colorado Christians, Jews and Muslims have launched a new love campaign to counter 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 told Denver Post.
"Hatred is only going to further violence and the breakdown of society."
The new "Love Thy Neighbor" campaign would start with ads on Regional Transportation District (RTD) buses.
By the end of this week, it is expected to appear on 10 buses and stay on each bus for a month.
The campaign was suggested as a reaction to the recent anti-Islam ad campaigns sponsored by hate blogger Pamela Geller.
Earlier this year, Geller sponsored 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 anti-Muslim 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."
When metro-area Muslims saw the negative ads on RTD buses in November, "we felt really hurt," Colorado Muslim Society Imam Karim Abuzaid said.
Irritated by the ads, he and Jeremy Shaver, director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, questioned RTD officials about the decision-making of the quasi-governmental organization.
The Anti Defamation League challenged these ads as offensive and inflammatory.
Yet, RTD legal staffers had reviewed the content and found no basis for rejecting the ads.
Other transit agencies that challenged bus ads in court have lost.
The title of the campaign was suggested as representing a key notion for the three Abrahamic religions.
The "Love Thy Neighbor" message conveys "a shared concept in the three religions," Colorado Imam Abuzaid said.
"In Islam, we are commanded to love our neighbor, or at least act in love," he added.
The new campaign is not the first in the US to counter hate ads.
Earlier this December, CAIR announced the launch of "MyJihad" educational campaign to share the proper meaning of Jihad as believed and practiced by the majority of Muslims.
In October, CAIR championed a campaign to counter the anti-Jihad ads with signs reading a passage from Noble Qur'an saying: "Show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant."
Many Christian and Jewish organizations have already expressed solidarity with Muslims by hanging pro-Muslim posters next to the provocative ads in New York to condemn intolerance and celebrate the city's diversity.
Jacobs' Rabbis for Human Rights - North America and the group Sojourners, led by the Christian author and social-justice advocate Jim Wallis, unveiled their campaigns last October.
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.