This past weekend, the Council on American-Islamic Relations launched “MyJihad,” a national ad campaign featuring individuals’ testimonies about what the central tenet of Islam means to them.
But on Monday, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, or AFDI, asked the CTA to accept another batch of ads, featuring mock testimonies from high-profile Muslim extremists, including Osama bin Laden.
The campaign is the second one launched by the initiative, which rolled out a controversial series of bus posters last month urging passengers to “Defeat jihad.”
“The MyJihad campaign is about reclaiming jihad from the Muslim and anti-Muslim extremists who ironically, but not surprisingly, see eye to eye on jihad,” said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, also known as CAIR. Rehab also created the slogan.
The people behind the AFDI initiative have become the “premier promoters of extremism and violence,” he said.
Pamela Geller, executive director of AFDI, said the fact that some Muslims consider jihad a peaceful concept does not cancel out the fact that there are others who interpret it violently.
“This usage of jihad is much more influential and widespread among Muslims worldwide than the benign and whitewashed understanding of it” presented in the ad campaign, Geller said.
Brian Steele, a spokesman for the CTA, said the second AFDI campaign is under review. The first CAIR and AFDI campaigns cost $5,000 each, he said. Geller said the second campaign will cost less than $10,000. She expects it to start in January.
Rehab said Geller’s attempt to hijack the “MyJihad” slogan amounts to fraud. He said CAIR’s campaign includes ads on buses and trains, as well as a social media component on Twitter, where users are asked to tweet their testimony with the #MyJihad hashtag.
He added that the campaign has evolved into an interfaith effort, including Muslim mothers who are concerned that their children will be bullied, as well as Jews and Christians.
“We have been overwhelmed with the participation of people of other faiths tweeting their struggles,” campaign volunteer and Naperville mom Angie Emara said in a statement. “People of different backgrounds are finding a common language. They’re learning to see themselves in one another as they share similar expressions of their daily jihad.”