The logic of our thought process is as follows:
1- Events outside our control, as individual Muslims, have caused significant damage to our community's image. I am referring to constant barrage of violent uncivilized acts committed in our name, and publicized widely by the perpetrators.
2- The lack of knowledge about Muslims and Islam makes it easier for the Media, and the average individual to get fixated on an image of Muslims, collectively, as inherently evil people.
3- A significant percentage of the non-Muslim community believes that:
- We, Muslims, are sympathetic to the terrorists,
- That our religion condones and encourages terrorism against non-Muslims.
- That, even though we do not agree with the terrorists, we are unable or afraid to express our opposition to terrorism against civilians.
- And that most of the Muslims who oppose terrorism and are willing to express that, end up “qualifying” out statements, “watering it down”, and “looking for justifications and excuses” for those who commit terrorist acts.
In view of all of these perception problems, non-Muslim Americans are looking for a clear and unequivocal, unqualified and united message from Muslim Americans, and from their religious leadership, regarding where our religion stands on the issue of terrorism, and ANY attacks on civilians.
As Muslims in the West, it is our duty to be spokespersons for Islam, not by preaching, but by being a living example for what a Muslim should be.
If we are NOT VISIBLE as Muslim citizens in our communities, then we are unable to send the message that most of us are good people. Our VISIBILITY is pivotal to our message, and is the ONLY way we can dilute and counter the horrible image of Muslims and Islam in the Media. The visibility of the large number of Muslims in this society can be enhanced by actively engaging non-Muslim, and by participating in activities and behavior consistent with being good and caring citizens, simultaneously consistent with our Islamic values.
This was the thought process leading to our interest in a Muslim Visibility Campaign.
Our goals are to:
- Get more Muslims to ACTIVELY show on a regular basis that they are members of the Muslim community. That is where simple measures can be effective: car stickers, T-shirts with campaign logos, characteristic Silicon Wristbands for the youth, etc.
- Encourage different Islamic institutions to incorporate in their religious activities a message to the community on regular basis about the duties of the individual Muslim as a messenger for their religion, by their deeds (not by preaching).
- Encourage Islamic institutions, religious and non-religious, to be more engaging in the public arena, with social services, event participation, communication to the media etc.
We are hopeful to get more communities on board with these goals. I know it is “ambitious”, but I feel we have no choice but to try hard. The trouble we are in as a Muslim community in the