By JR on Tuesday, June 28, 2011
I see the billboard as a rare positive recognition of Christianity from Muslims
PROCLAIMING Jesus to be ''a prophet of Islam'' on billboards is a statement of belief and does not discriminate against or vilify Christians, the Advertising Standards Bureau has found.
The billboard, one of several in an awareness campaign by Islamic group MyPeace, was the subject of a series of complaints to the bureau on the grounds that the statement was insulting to those who believed Jesus to be the son of God.
Other complaints included the charge that Jesus ''must not be associated with such [an] aggressive religion'' and another claiming the advertisement was upsetting to children. ''What [my child] knows of Islam she has learnt from watching mainstream news broadcasts and to have her saviour identified as being part of this malicious cult was very traumatic!'' one complaint stated.
But the bureau found that while some members of the community would be offended by the statement, which would be inconsistent with Christian beliefs, ''such a statement does not, of itself, discriminate against or vilify people who hold different beliefs'' and was not a breach of the Advertiser Code of Ethics. ''The board acknowledged that the Islam faith does consider that Jesus is a prophet of Mohammed,'' it read.
It found the billboards did not suggest violence or contain frightening material ''and that it is not unreasonable for children to be exposed to a variety of information in their daily lives, some of which may conflict with the views with which they are raised''.
MyPeace founder Diaa Mohamed confirmed earlier this month that two billboards - one at Rozelle and another at Rosehill - had been vandalised.
Another reading ''Mary and prophet Jesus: read about their lives in the [Koran]'' was erected on Fairfield Road, near the M5 at Padstow at the weekend, he told the Herald.
In a written response to the Advertising Standards Bureau, he said misunderstandings about Muslims and Islam prompted the campaign, which aimed to reduce discrimination and vilification of certain sections of the community - and in particular Muslims.
''[The advertisement] conveys the message that, like Christians, we the Muslims also regard Jesus with extreme reverence,'' it read. ''The idea being that the people will see beyond the words in the advertisements and recognise that Islam and Muslims are not much different from any other ordinary Australian.''