American Muslims from across the country launched, "My Faith, My Voice," an online campaign designed to give the Muslim community an open forum where they can provide a direct response to the controversial conversation surrounding the proposed Islamic Center in New York.
Project Manager, Hassan Ahmad, described the website as an effort to build bridges and, "serve as completely neutral ground." Ahmad added, "There is no organization behind this, there is no mosque that can take ownership of this. This is just the voice of American Muslims. Plain and simple."
The group does not take a formal stance on the mosque's location and whether or not it's appropriate to build so close to the footprint of the Twin Towers. In fact, organizers were very careful to point out they are only providing the soapbox for others to stand on. "The organization doesn't have a position, it can't...it's a grassroots coalition of people who may have views on this end of the spectrum, and may have views on that end of the spectrum," said Ahmad.
Nadia El-Khatib decided she wanted to get involved in the project because as the mosque conversation escalated, so has discrimination. "I have had hatred thrown at me, simply because I look Muslim and it's really upsetting," said El-Khatib. "Just a week ago, driving by me, someone threw out some words and sped on. I haven't felt like that since right after 9/11. It was a real shock."
Imam Johari, who is the director for the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center, believes getting people to better understand each other is key in preventing the anti-Muslim atmosphere, "I am an American. I am a Muslim, I want to live here just like everybody else. To work; to practice; to enjoy life; to share in the civic society. That's the objective here."
The website, http://www.myfaithmyvoice.com/, features an ad that says in part, "In recent weeks, a lot of people have been telling you what to think about Muslims. They say you should fear me...But the truth is I don't want to impose my faith on you....Islam teaches me to respect all people.... I am an American. I am Muslim. This is My Faith. This is My Voice."
For now the ad is relegated to the web, but the group is trying to gather donations so it can be aired on a national network.