A Chicago-based Muslim education group is launching its own media campaign to counter an anti-Islamic video that has incited turmoil in predominantly Islamic countries throughout the Middle East and South Asia. GainPeace, the outreach arm of the Islamic Circle of North America, plans to spend at least $50,000 in the Chicago market on messages that will attempt to cast the Islamic Prophet Mohammed positively. Sabeel Ahmed, director of GainPeace, says the messages will be disseminated through social media, bus advertisements, billboards, and public service announcements on the radio and television.
“We believe that this anti-Islamic video is not an expression of freedom of speech, it is an expression of hate,” said Ahmed. “It’s an expression to incite violence, to incite the masses, and to incite killing and violence by the people.”
Ahmed said he believes the violent protests in Pakistan, Indonesia, and across the Middle East are a disproportionate response to the offensive, amateur video trailer created by Egyptian-American Christians in California.
The makers of the film appear to be lone actors, but Ahmed said they cannot be ignored. “The common people, they are getting brainwashed by this fringe number of people,” he said. “Most of the time when people take actions like this, they are getting brainwashed by the videos and by the actions and by the anti-Islamic messages on the billboards and the buses that they are doing by investing thousands and millions of dollars.”
GainPeace has done similar media campaigns since it was created in 2008. Ahmed said he hopes ads for the new campaign will start appearing in on Chicago radio and television stations in October.