'#ActualMuslims' Post Anti-ISIS Message on Ill. Billboard | NBC 10 Philadelphia
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'#ActualMuslims' Post Anti-ISIS Message on Ill. Billboard

A billboard with the message was hoisted in a Chicago suburb Thursday

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Ash-har Quraishi

    On a stretch of highway often gridlocked with commuters headed to downtown Chicago or O'Hare, a nonprofit dedicated to changing the way Muslims are portrayed in the media left a succinct message for the Islamic State.

    "Hey ISIS, you suck!!!" an I-294 billboard just north of North Avenue reads. It is signed, "From: #ActualMuslims," and paired with a quote from the Quran: "Life is sacred."

    The nonprofit, Sound Vision, said in a news release it has published brochures and articles against ISIS and its practices, condemning the terrorist organization.

    Sound Vision's website holds videos and talking points on topics ranging from Islamophobia and mainstream media to international tragedies perpetrated in the name of the Islamic State.

    "We wanted to choose a place that was high traffic," said Leena Suleiman, a representative of the group, about choosing the location to hoist the group's message.

    Suleiman said 60 individuals, mainly made up of professionals from the northwest suburbs of Chicago, collaborated with Sound Vision to pull together the cash for the billboard.

    "A group of American-Muslim professionals organized like-minded, concerned Muslims to raise funds for this campaign," said Mohammad Siddiqi, executive director of Sound Vision, in the release.

    Suleiman said the project grew out of frustration Muslim-Americans are feeling over not having a voice every time a terrorist attack happens.

    "It's about shouting out, 'ISIS does not represent me, I'm Muslim, I say the word 'sucks,' I'm like everyone else in my country,'" she said. "We want to scream it from a billboard."

    That message is critical to defeating ISIS, President Barack Obama said at a news conference Thursday. He warned against perpetuating the narrative that the fight against ISIS, sometimes referred to as ISIL, is "a clash of civilizations."

    That idea "plays exactly into the hands of ISIL and the perverse interpretations of Islam that they're putting forward," Obama said.

    Suleiman said Sound Vision's message has been received positively by the local Muslim community but it's hard to gauge what the larger response is.

    "Obviously Muslims know that ISIS sucks, so the main audience is people who are not Muslims ... People who need to hear that Muslims are not OK with what ISIS is doing," she said.

    The hashtag resonated with local Muslims the most, she said, because it's a reflection of how they often feel.

    "When they see these attacks, they don't identify with the attacks, they identify with the victims," she said.