(INDYSTAR.com) - A month after an anti-Muslim billboard disparaging the Prophet Muhammad went up along I-465 and gained national attention, a Chicago-based Muslim group is firing back with a billboard of its own.
Dubbed the "Truthful Man" by the minds behind it, a direct response to the "Perfect Man" title given to the other billboard, the new billboard on I-465 reads "The truth about Muhammad. Get a free book on his life. Call 800-662-ISLAM." Anyone who calls the number can ask any question about Muhammad or Islam and request a free biography about Muhammad.
GainPeace, the Muslim group behind the effort, said the billboard is one part of a six-week campaign designed to educate people about the Prophet Muhammad. The billboard will be up until July 30.
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Other portions of the campaign include mailing out 15,000 post cards about Muhammad and creating a 30-second video to be shared on social media. Officials said more details about the campaign will be revealed during a 10 a.m. Thursday news conference at Masjid As-Sahaba mosque on the west side.
Anti-Muslim violence is one of the main motivators for the new billboard, organizers said.
According to IndyStar archives, California State University researched found that anti-Muslim hate crimes have increased by 78 percent in the United States since 2015.
“There had been some recent attacks targeting Muslims in Chicago and across the nation. Islamophobia at times stems from the lack of education about Islam and Prophet Muhammad or education from unreliable sources," Sabeel Ahmed, executive director of GainPeace, said in a statement. "Thus, we want to offer our fellow Americans an opportunity to learn the true teachings of Islam from its main source, the Quran.
“Previous educational campaigns of GainPeace have generated numerous calls of support and building of alliances with interfaith groups, minority groups, and neighbors."
The east-side billboard that sparked GainPeace's reaction went up in early June. It doesn't mention the Prophet Muhammad by name, but its claims have previously been used to disparage him and, by extension, Islam.
The original billboard could be seen from the southbound lanes of I-465, just south of East Washington Street. The new billboard sits right across the interstate, visible while driving north as you approach East Washington Street
At the bottom of the billboard in yellow sits the words "Educate Truthophobes." A search of Truthophobes online leads to multiple anti-Muslim groups, specifically an Australian group with similar messaging.
After the anti-Muslim billboard was erected, religious leaders throughout Central Indiana came together to denounce it.
Call IndyStar reporter Justin L. Mack at (317) 444-6138. Follow him on Twitter: @justinlmack.