A Muslim call center has received more than 200 hate calls in a week after a billboard was put up in Dallas to help clear misconceptions about Muslim women and the hijab.
Ruman Sadiq from the Islamic Center of North America Dallas and GainPeace said they put up the billboard after a Muslim woman in a hijab was attacked on 30 December 2018 at the Reunion Tower.
“What better way to take action than by educating people about why we wear the hijab and what it really means,” she stated.
The organization began by setting up booths around North Texas, with one in Klyde Warren Park, which was started in February.
“They could try on a hijab for a day. They asked us questions on why we wear it and what rights Muslim women have. It was amazing how much positive feedback we received and how little people knew about our faith.”
“It was amazing how much positive feedback we received and how little people knew about our faith.”
The public booths motivated the group to launch a six-week outreach campaign and paid for a hijab awareness billboard on the Northwest Highway.
The main objective of the campaign was to present the hijab as a symbol of female empowerment and not repression.
But the reaction to the billboard had the opposite response.
Dr. Sabeel Ahmed, the director of the call center at GainPeace, stated that ever since the billboard was put up, the call center got more hate calls “than from any billboard in the last 12 years of GainPeace’s campaigns.”
The call center did get callers who had genuine questions about the hijab, but they also had callers yell profanities and then hang up, and others would tell them, “You are terrorists. Go home.”
Ms. Sadiq said anonymous angry callers will not stop the billboard campaigns.
She said, “Engage with us … That’s the only way to arrive at a better understanding of one another.”