Proselytizing, repairing Islam's image, or something worse? The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) is running an out-of-home media advertising campaign near major cities throughout America hoping to "showcase Islam as a religion of love and tolerance, aimed at Muslims and non-Muslims alike." The campaign may also be motivated by the ICNA's goal to establish a worldwide Islamic Caliphate.
ICNA says the main thrust of the campaign is to expose non-Muslims to the teachings of Mohammed:
They’re part of a new campaign launched by The Islamic Circle of North America as a way, the group’s president said, to “talk about the prophet the way we see it.”
“It all started after the Charlie Hebdo killing of journalists in France,” ICNA President Naeem Baig said, referring to the January mass shooting that left a majority of the satirical newspaper’s staff dead. The shooters were reportedly motivated by what they saw as a sacrilegious approach to Islam.
By the end of 2015, the group plans to have 100 billboards across the country:
The plan is to have at least 100 by year’s end, Baig said. The ICNA, who in years past has organized educational campaigns around Sharia (or Islamic law), will also hold at least eight conferences throughout the country, all on the life of the Prophet Muhammad, he said.
The signs urge people to call a phone number or go to a website to "find answers to questions about Jihad, Terrorism, Women Rights, or to order their free copy of the Quran or other literature."
“We thought a proper approach would be to actually educate the larger public about his personality, which exemplifies love and brotherhood,” said Waqas Syed, ICNA Deputy Secretary General.
A campaign that ran last year urged people to find Jesus in the Quran (see below).
Publicly the ICNA has always positioned itself as a moderate Muslim group even making anti-terrorism declarations such as, "Extremism has no place in Islam, and ICNA works tirelessly to oppose extremist and violent ideology." However, research by the "Investigative Project on Terrorism" reports the group distributes extremist literature and provides a look at the ICNA's handbook and charter which suggest that the billboard's campaign may have a more nefarious goal than explained above. An objective of the ICNA is the establishment of a worldwide Islamic caliphate.
ICNA's charter is even more explicit. It calls for the "establishment of the Islamic system of life" in the world, "whether it pertains to beliefs, rituals and morals or to economic, social or political spheres."
For ICNA, this means being the American branch of a global phenomenon that they refer to as the 'Islamic Movement.'[Political Islam] The 2010 Hand Book notes, branches of this movement "are active in various parts of the world to achieve the same objectives. It is our obligation as Muslims to engage in the same noble cause here in North America."
Working in an 'Islamic Movement' culminates in an Islamic super-state, the Caliphate, the hand book says. Believers have an obligation to strive to reestablish a collective body of Muslims worldwide, organized into the super-state under the direction of a Caliphate and Islamic law. The group wants "the united Muslim Ummah [community] in a united Islamic state, governed by an elected khalifah in accordance with the laws of shari'ah."