Saturday, July 2, 2011

Christians 'not vilified' by Islamic billboards says Australian Advertising Standards Bureau

But that doesn't satisfy one Christian who says that they are 'a willful abuse of our freedom of speech and democratic values'

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA (ANS) -- Proclaiming Jesus to be "a prophet of Islam" on billboards in Australia is a statement of belief and does not discriminate against or vilify Christians, the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) there has found.

The controversial billboard
The row erupted in late May, when signs were placed on billboards in major Sydney roads, specifically chosen for maximum exposure. Organized and privately funded by an Islamic group called "MyPeace" the billboards advertise Muslim beliefs, including a claim that has upset the Christian community - that Jesus, like Mohamed, was a prophet of Islam.
"Representatives of Sydney's Christian community have said the campaign messages were inflammatory and provocative," said Rashida Yosufzai in a story

Leesha McKenny, Religious Affairs Correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald (, said that the billboard, one of several in an "awareness campaign" by the Islamic group MyPeace (Australia), 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, she wrote, 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, said McKenny, 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.
The story went on to say that 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."

The billboards were placed by MyPeace (Australia) and its founder Diaa Mohamed, aged 29, confirmed earlier this month that two billboards had been vandalized.

Another reading "Mary and Prophet Jesus: read about their lives in the [Koran]" was erected on Fairfield Road,
Sydney, near the M5 at Padstow at the weekend, he told the Herald.

McKenny went on to say that, in a written response to the Advertising Standards Bureau, Diaa Mohamed 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," his response said. "The idea being that the people will see beyond the words in the advertisements and recognize that Islam and Muslims are not much different from any other ordinary Australian."

However, that has not satisfied some Christians living in Australia, including Egyptian-born journalist, Assad Elepty, who told the ASSIST News Service, "It is my submission the ASB has made a number of serious and fundamental errors in its assessments and in reaching a conclusion. It concerns me gravely the ASB has relied on misinformation, presumptions, false assumptions and generalizations in reaching its decision.
"Does anyone in the ASB have a thorough and sufficient understanding of Mohammed, Islam, the Koran and 
Haddith so as to make an informed decision?"
He added, "These billboards are a willful abuse of our freedom of speech and democratic values, the same privileges that are essentially rejected by the Islamic faith. These billboards are no accident, they are a cunning and premeditated act designed solely to undermine the core beliefs and faith of every Christian in Australia.
"I am sure the ASB is fully aware that Islamic countries actively shut down any debate or discussion of Islam or Mohammed by the use of blasphemy laws. These laws are designed to oppress non-Muslims living in an Islamic state. Pakistan is a chronic violator of human rights by the use of the blasphemy laws. You are all aware of the murdered minister that attempted to repeal the laws in Pakistan.

"It is also well documented that majority of non-Muslims with any knowledge of Islam, Koran or Haddith are aware Islam has so many evil aspects that can only be silenced by the implementation of blasphemy laws.
"Christianity has no such absurdity and Jesus Christ did not teach such evil."

Dan Wooding, 70, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 47 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS) and was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC. He now hosts the weekly "Front Page Radio" show on KWVE in Southern California which is also carried on the Calvary Radio Network throughout the United States. The program is also aired in Great Britain on Calvary Chapel Radio UK. Besides this, Wooding is a host for His Channel Live, which is carried via the Internet to some 200 countries. You can follow Dan on Facebook under his name there or at ASSIST News Service. He is the author of some 44 books. Two of the latest include his autobiography, "From Tabloid to Truth", which is published by Theatron Books. To order a copy, press this link. Wooding, who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, has also recently released his first novel "Red Dagger" which is available this link.

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