A Muslim call centre has received more than 200 hate calls in a week after a billboard was put up in Dallas to help clear misconceptions about Muslim women and the hijab.
Ruman Sadiq from the Islamic Center of North America Dallas and GainPeace said they put up the billboard after a Muslim woman in hijab was attacked on 30 December 2018 at the Reunion Tower.
She said: “What better way to take action than by educating people about why we wear the hijab and what it really means.”
The group began by setting up booths around Klyde Warren Park in North Texas last month.
Ms Sadiq said: “They could try on a hijab for a day. They asked us questions on why we wear it and what rights Muslim women have.
“It was amazing how much positive feedback we received and how little people knew about our faith.”
The public booths motivated the group to launch a six-week outreach campaign and paid for a hijab awareness billboard on the Northwest Highway.
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The main objective of the campaign was to present the hijab as a symbol of female empowerment and not repression.
But the reaction to the billboard had the opposite response.
According to Dr Sabeel Ahmed, the director of the call centre, the hijab billboard received more hate “than from any billboard in the last 12 years of GainPeace’s campaigns”.
However, call centre staff did say they received calls from genuine people who asked questions about Islam, Muslim women and the hijab.
But most the calls were from people who would shout, swear and hurl Islamophobic abuse.
Ms Sadiq said anonymous angry callers will not stop the billboard campaigns.
She said: “Engage with us … That’s the only way to arrive at a better understanding of one another.”
The billboard will be up for the next month in Dallas and Houston.