Australia faces uproar over Islamic billboard

Australia faces possible outrage over some billboards paid for by an Islamic group called MyPeace, which will carry slogans such as ”Jesus: a prophet of Islam”, ”Holy Quran: the final testament” and ”Muhammad: mercy to mankind”.

Christians in Sydney will supposedly have their core beliefs challenged by provocative advertisements due to appear on billboards and buses in the next month.

A phone number urges people to call to receive a free Koran and other Islamic literature.

Diaa Mohamed, who is an organiser for the charity said the campaign was intended to educate non-Muslims about Islam. He said Jesus was a prophet of Islam, who was to come before Muhammad.

The only difference is we say he was a prophet of God, and they say he is God. Is it thought-provoking? Yes, it is. We want to raise awareness that Islam believes in Jesus Christ.

There is a hope by the Islamic group that the billboards will encourage Christians and Muslims to find common ground.  Mr Mohammad had said that Muslims ”… embrace him and say that he was one of the mightiest prophets of God.” Of course, this is all very well, but that is completely contrary to what the message of Christianity teaches.

The Anglican Bishop of South Sydney, Rob Forsyth, said it was ”complete nonsense” to say Jesus was a prophet of Islam.

Jesus was not the prophet of a religion that came into being 600 years later. ‘They’ve got a perfect right to say it, and I would defend their right to say it [but] … you couldn’t run a Christian billboard in Saudi Arabia.

The bishop said he would pay for billboards to counter those of MyPeace if he could afford it, and ”maybe the atheists should run their billboards as well”.

However, this sort of sympathy hasn’t been shared by all Christians. Roman Catholic Bishop Julian Porteous, from the Archdiocese of Sydney, has referred to them as being ‘provocative and offensive’.

He said it was important for religions not to antagonise each other with such statements:

For the sake of preserving social harmony and respect between major world religions these billboards should be withdrawn, along with others which carry messages directly offensive to Christians

So what’s my opinion?

Well I’m more inclined to go with Bishop Forsyth’s take on the issue. As Christians, we cannot expect to demand free speech and religious expression without the risk of being punished without letting other faiths and religions do the same.

I’m sure this billboard situation will cause upset and anger, but is this the right way to be? I don’t think so. For Christians, it is the perfect opportunity to explain why Jesus isn’t just another prophet, why he isn’t one of the mightier prophets, and rather to explain, in fact, as to why he is God.

This is the beauty of living in democracy; everyone has a right to share and express their beliefs. As a Christian living in a democratic society, it is for us to express ours with dignity, grace and love, yet to do this efficiently, boldly and clearly.

Do you have any opinions on this news? Share them below:

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Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about

  • Eva

    Gosh, people like to outrage.

    We had buses here covered in Christian ads. I heard that people in Toronto outraged, but not where I live because it is pretty conservative. Though I KNOW people here would outrage if we had similar Islamic ads.

    Religious people also outrage over Atheist billboards, so it goes both ways. I outrage over Atheist billboards too. Internally though. Free speech. People don’t cherish it enough, not at all. In that sense, it’s okay to rage over billboards because that’s you’re right to, but to do anything that challenges the right of free speech of the people who put them up is wrong.

    • Eva

      *YOUR

      I have good grammar, I do, I just have horrible sleeping habits =P

  • AJ

    Yeh i believe in the right of free speech but not the right to offend. I think this ad appears to have the purpose to offend as it’s aimed directly at targeting Jesus. I dunno, I’m sure this will cause a bit of extra unnecessary tensions. It is upsetting that some people would talk about our saviour like that when we know what He did for us. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)

    • Eva

      It’s aimed at targeting Jesus? Jesus *IS* a prophet of Islam, that’s just a fact about their religion. I think it’s meant to offend as much a Christian would mean to offend if they made a billboard saying “Jesus is our saviour.”

      I think it’s a good thing because a lot of people see Islam as this weird scary thing that bear no relation to their religion, but little do they know (if they are Christian) that Jesus is featured prominently. Now you can still think that he’s not talked about in a similar enough way for this to be common ground, but the point is I think they are genuine in this being an attempt at dialog.

      Not saying I for sure know the thought processes of the people that made these, but In my opinion they could have chosen something much more offensive than a simple fact of their faith.

      • AJ

        Come on.. They’re not broadcasting anything informative of worth about their religion, nothing positive or uplifting or anything relevant. They’re attacking Chrsitian beliefs completely. The whole Christian faith is based around the fact that Jesus claimed He is the son of God and this billboard was designed to directly challenge that, it’s no compairson to a board which would read Jesus is our saviour :/
        As you said yeh, we’re still guessing at what we think they’re trying to get at but their motives look faily obvious to me..

        • Eva

          Nothing relevant or informative about their religion? Jesus *IS* a prophet of Islam, that’s all there is to it, and one that plays a very prominent role. Did you know they also think he might come back on the day of judgement? I’d say that’s pretty relevant. In which case the billboard is doing the opposite of what you say it is.

          The way it can be directly compared to a board saying that Jesus is your saviour is that that is YOUR belief, and him being a prophet is THEIR belief. Same thing. Yes, he plays a much bigger and more important role for you, but since when do religions only have to talk about their absolute main parts?

          I don’t know. If someone can offend you by just stating their beliefs then we will have to disagree. If someone ran the hypothetical “Jesus is our saviour” billboard, would you also have them add on the words, “but we don’t mean to attack strongly held Muslim beliefs about Jesus!”

          Of course this was made with Christianity in mind. I for one see this as much more of an attempt at inter-faith dialogue, a way of saying, “hey, Jesus plays a big role for us to!” Because again, many Muslims feel very misunderstood about their religion.

          And of course every religion would rather have you believe in their version of things. But as for this being an “attack.”Well, I can think of much worse things to do or say if you wanted to attack someone/something than simply stating your faith.

          Sorry that this got long, and I in no way want you to think that I was attacking you! It’s just that I’ve seen enough Christian posters and pamphlets in my day, and if those weren’t meant as an attack on other religions, then this shouldn’t be either.

          • AJ

            I chose to say informative or releveant.. of any worth.. because there are certainly better ways to promote their religion by saying something which is relevant to conversion, unless they intended to aim this directly at Christians and inform them that the Jesus of the bible is a liar because He’s not truely who He says He was and that all those who bore witness to Jesus saying He is the son of God and all those who personally knew Jesus and got slaughtered for upholding that testimony that Jesus is the son of God were all also liars or delusional. I believe this should also be taken into context with the knowledge that Christians were stating Jesus as the messiah for centuries before Islam was even founded, then Islam came along and claimed it was all lies.
            It’s also worth looking into what Islam says about Christianity to be able to see motives and their position behind such billboards as opposed to a possibly similarly challenging billboard from a Christian. We can see in various verses of the quran that Christians are enemies and that they’re not to be friends, non-believers are also enemies and should be slayed. The bible as you know teaches, love your enemies and turn the other cheek if they come against you. It’s through the suffering of Jesus that the love of God was revealed for mankind. It’s not about fighting back with endless retaliation but loving the enemy and turning the other cheek so that in their suffering God’s love for us is displayed.
            Yeh don’t worry, I’m not offended by this billboard so you don’t have to start disagreeing with that.. Ah don’t appologise it’s good to be challenged to grow in ideas and understanding.

  • Mike Hunt

    My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,
    And they’re like, it’s better than yours,
    Damn right, it’s better than yours,
    I could teach you, but I have to charge.

    Look into the meaning of this quote. Jesus loves us.

    • Mike, please see the comment I made to you in my post on my birthday. This is getting beyond a joke now.

      • Mike Hunt

        Sorry I’ll try to be more constructive.

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