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Effort To Educate Americans About Islam Also Links To Anti-Semitic Web Sites

Washington, DC Is Latest Focus of "Why Islam" Campaign

 

New York, NY, July 15, 2009 … A national campaign to educate the general public about Islam through a series of advertisements on buses is tainted by the fact that a Web site related to the campaign links out to sites that contain anti-Semitic materials, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

 

The most recent campaign, currently running on 50 municipal buses in the Washington, D.C. area through the end of July, directs viewers to a Web site called "WhyIslam," which includes a list of "resources" linking to various sites that feature extreme anti-Semitic and anti-Israel invective.

 

"The 'WhyIslam' campaign is ostensibly an effort to clear up misperceptions and to educate the general public about Islam," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.  "This endeavor would on its face appear to be the right thing to do.  Unfortunately, when one follows through to learn more, the Web site provides links to conspiratorial anti-Semitic material as resources.

 

"We have always said that our concern is with extremists who promote hatred in the name of Islam," said Mr. Foxman.  "In this 'WhyIslam' campaign, an otherwise positive effort to promote public awareness about Islam, providing links to sites that would be considered extreme by any measure in their expressions of hatred for Jews and Israel taints their message."

 

The "WhyIslam" campaign was created by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) in 2008 to educate the public about Islam and to "clarify many of the misconceptions" about the religion.  The campaign's Web site calls for interfaith dialogue, stating that, "Religious hostility can be greatly diminished, if not completely eliminated, if we make a sincere attempt to understand the 'other.'"

 

But under "resources on Islam," the site provides links to external sites that promote anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel.  Those links include:

 

  • Jews for Allah (JFA), an anti-Semitic and extreme anti-Israel Web site that aims to convert Jews to Islam.  The site includes the article, "Islam: A Religion of Terror?" which says: "It is the Jewish influenced media of the West which has portrayed Islam to be something that it is not … . Whilst trying to destroy Islam through this instrument of the media, the Jews clearly try to portray an image of themselves as being the oppressed people… ."  
  • IslamOnline, a Web-based publication connected to Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi, a radical Muslim brotherhood ideologue based in Qatar.  The publication promotes anti-Israel terrorist groups, has referred to Zionism as a "cancer," and has repeatedly claimed that the close ties between the U.S. and Israel demonstrate their mutual desire to oppress Muslims.  In January 2008, IslamOnline published a poem in its Arts and Culture section that gave graphic instructions on how to behead someone.
  • Harun Yahya, an anti-Semitic Turkish writer whose articles demonize Jews who support Israel as "godless" and blames them for committing atrocities.  One article penned by Yahya quotes French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy and another cites Yahya's own book titled "The Holocaust Deception." 

"WhyIslam" is not the only public awareness campaign on Islam to provide links to anti-Semitic Web sites.  The South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which ran a similar campaign dubbed "Calling Islam" last November on buses in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, also provided links to Jews for Allah and articles by Harun Yahya as part of its online effort.


The "WhyIslam" campaign, created by the New York and New Jersey chapters of ICNA, has had significant national exposure since fall 2008.  The campaign has run advertisements on buses and billboards in Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, Washington, D.C. and 18 other cities across the United States.

 

Additional information on the "WhyIslam" and "Calling Islam" campaigns and links to anti-Semitic material found on their sites is available on the League's Web site.


The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.



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