By MARIAM KHAN
In its first satirical attempt to challenge anti-Muslim bigotry, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, released a 1-minute ad Wednesday poking fun at discriminatory interactions many Muslims in the country regularly face. The organization claims that it has developed a “cure” for this in the form of a chewing gum called ISLAMOPHOBIN.
Who, exactly, is the ad aimed at?
“I think the answer is very, very simple. When it comes to irresponsible statements against Muslims, it’s Donald Trump and several of the GOP candidates,” CAIR’s Executive Director Nihad Awad said in an interview with ABC News.
“With the candidacy of Donald Trump, and people like him, we’ve seen a spike in Islamophobia, a spike in incidents and hate crimes, and we’re looking for ways to defend our communities and also for ways to defend American values,” he said.
The ad, he explained, is a way to incorporate humor into an organization that typically issues strong statements of condemnation.
“We believe humor and satire can go a long way,” Awad said, and should help “remind people that your Muslim neighbor is your friend, your Muslim co-worker is your friend.”
A recent Pew projection found that Muslims are projected to become the second-largest religious group in the U.S. (after Christians) by 2040. The American Muslim population will reach 8.1 million people, or 2.1 percent of the total population, by 2050.
The chewing gum – mint green Chiclets – are for sale on Amazon.com for $1.99 (plus a $4.49 shipping fee). CAIR said the proceeds support the group’s civil rights and advocacy work.
According to the packaging, the gum is a “multi-symptom relief for chronic Islamophobia” and a “maximum strength formula” to treat blind intolerance, unthinking bigotry, irrational fear of Muslims and “U.S. presidential election year scapegoating.”
“We will be sending ISLAMOPHOBIN to any public figure who uses Islamophobic rhetoric, so Donald Trump is first on our list,” said Ibrahim Hooper, communications director of CAIR.
A “warning” states that ISLAMOPHOBIN “may result in peaceful coexistence.”
“Side effects” of ISLAMOPHOBIN may include “warm feelings toward Muslims, immigrants or refugees and an allergy to the promotion of anti-Muslim bigotry.”
Awad said the organization has seen an unprecedented spike in anti-Muslim incidents nationwide, and CAIR will be boosting its civic engagement leading up to the November election.
“Diversity in America. Freedom of religion. It’s who we are as Americans,” Awad said.