A CAMPAIGN by an Islamic charity to raise money for international aid and help change the “negative climate” surrounding the Muslim community has been denounced as unfair by Christian groups.
To celebrate Ramadan and encourage donations to Islamic Relief, adverts containing the slogan Subhan Allah, which translates as “Glory be to God”, will run on 460 buses in Bradford and three other cities after the end of the holy festival.
The adverts will also run on 180 buses in London in the two weeks before Ramadan.
The charity hopes the campaign, targeted at cities with high Muslim populations and which will also be seen in Birmingham, Manchester and Leicester, will spark a “climate change” of the negative views associated with Islam and the Muslim community in the UK.
But some critics have argued it is unjust that this campaign has been given the green light while overtly Christian messages are often suppressed.
In the run-up to Christmas last year, an advert featuring the Lord’s Prayer was banned from Odeon, Cineworld and Vue cinemas. The advert featured the Archbishop of Canterbury and others reciting the prayer.
In 2014, former London mayor Boris Johnson banned a London bus advert suggesting people could “get over” homosexuality, saying the advert was “offensive to gays”.
Imran Madden, director of Islamic Relief UK, said: “In a sense this could be called a climate change campaign because we want to change the negative climate around international aid and around the Muslim community in this country.
“British Muslims are an incredibly generous community who give over £100 million to international aid charities in Ramadan.
“We have chosen bus advertising because it allows us to put our message across cost-effectively to a wide cross section of people.
“This campaign is about raising awareness as well as raising funds. We hope it will be received very positively because we have a positive message to share.”
But Andrea Williams, head of Christian Concern, said that allowing Islamic adverts while banning Christian ones reflected a “disproportionate fear” about the Christian message in the face of worries about critiquing Islam.
She said: “Increasingly what we see is accommodation being made for certain groups and a fear by the elite of consequence if they do not make way for certain groups.
“It (the ruling elite) bends over backwards to ensure that groups like (gay rights charity) Stonewall and Islamic Relief are given space but is very concerned when it comes to Christian advertising or morality, so that is where you find a certain message being censored.
“Our cases at Christian Legal Centre demonstrate how the message of Christianity is censored in the public space as the elite fears that it will offend.
“But when it comes to Islam, there is a big push by the ruling elites to make as much accommodation as possible, and a fear of being seen to critique or criticise the doctrine of Islam.”
She added: “If these adverts are running then we should ensure that space is given for Christian adverts to run, but what we are seeing in many situations is the removal of access to public space for Christian groups.”