Year-long educational effort prompted by Danish cartoon controversy
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/14/06) - Alhamdulillah (praise be to God), CAIR today called on Muslims to support a major educational effort, called "Explore the Life of Muhammad," as a positive response to the worldwide controversy over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
The year-long initiative will begin by offering people of all faiths a free book or DVD about the life and legacy of the Prophet Muhammad. CAIR's campaign will also feature grass-roots educational activities in Muslim communities throughout North America. (The campaign was announced at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and at CAIR's affiliated offices nationwide and in Canada by CAIR-CAN, an independent sister organization.)
Visitors to CAIR's campaign website, www.cair.com/Muhammad, will be able to choose either a DVD of the PBS documentary "Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet" or the book "Muhammad" by Yahiya Emerick. The website will also feature a 13-minute online clip from the DVD and excerpts from the book. (NOTE: Requests for free materials will initially be limited to the United States and Canada, but the campaign is designed to expand to Europe through cooperation with local Muslim communities.) Along with the DVD and the book, CAIR's website will also offer basic information about the Prophet Muhammad and a database of his sayings (hadith).
In the campaign, CAIR will offer materials to help local Muslim communities hold public screenings of the DVD, mosque open houses, panel discussions, essay contests, interfaith events, and other educational grass-roots activities focused on the legacy of the Prophet Muhammad. CAIR will also coordinate a speaker's bureau of its staff, board members and volunteers nationwide.
CAIR is suggesting that communities hold the first educational outreach activities on A "National Open House Day" February 24 at mosques and Islamic centers in the U.S. and Canada. A calendar of local activities will be available on CAIR's website. (Send notification of local events to: firstname.lastname@example.org)
On Thursday, February 16, CAIR will host an afternoon forum at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to discuss the controversy over the caricatures.
"CAIR's educational initiative is designed to bring people of all faiths together to learn more about the Prophet Muhammad and to use mutual understanding as a counterweight to the tensions created by the cartoon controversy," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. "By declaring 2006 a year of learning about the Prophet Muhammad, we send a message to all people that there are positive and pro-active ways to challenge Islamophobia and anti-Muslim stereotypes," said Awad. Awad noted that CAIR officials met with a number of Washington-based diplomats to discuss Muslim concerns about the cartoons.
Following similar international protests over claims that American personnel had desecrated the Quran at Guantanamo Bay's Camp X-Ray, CAIR launched an "Explore the Quran" campaign offering free copies of the holy text to Americans of all faiths. To date, more than 27,000 Qurans have been requested through that campaign.
A recently-concluded CAIR initiative, called "Explore Islamic Culture and Civilization," placed educational materials about Islam and Muslims in more than 8,000 public libraries throughout the United States.