INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Members of the central Indiana religious community condemned what they called a “divisive” anti-Muslim billboard posted on I-465 this week.
Officials from the Center for Interfaith Cooperation (CIC) also addressed the rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric and hate crimes across the U.S. during a news conference Friday morning.
The billboard on the east side of Indianapolis caught the eyes of drivers on southbound I-465 near the Washington Street exit. It claims to list the traits of the “perfect man,” but critics of the billboard say it denigrates the prophet Muhammad.
“My work trying to build interfaith relationships in Indianapolis has taught me that these relationships are sacred, and when someone from the outside tries to come in to our community and distort historical texts and tries to create division among us, that just won’t happen and I think today is a testament of that,” said Charlie Wiles, executive director of the Center for Interfaith Cooperation.
“The Center for Interfaith Cooperation condemns the billboard that’s been posted along I-465. Its message is hateful, it’s inaccurate and incites anti-Muslim violence,” Wiles said.
He called upon Hoosiers to denounce the billboard and the “mean-dispirited discourse that forms suspicion and hate.”
Our media partners at the IndyStar traced the billboard to a firm called LightPoint Impressions. Don Woodsmall, who was listed as a principal on the firm’s website, provided the publication with a 500-word statement in response to questions about the sign.
Woodsmall’s statement said he sold the ad to a “group of patriotic Americans” who were denied advertising by national companies.
“Their desire, born out of love and not hate, is to launch a national conversation,” Woodsmall said in the statement provided to the IndyStar.