Summary of eRumor:
Muslim groups demanded that a “Perfect Man” billboard that’s critical of the Prophet Mohammad be taken down.
A “Perfect Man” billboard that’s critical of the Prophet Mohammad went up in Indian in June 2017 — but rather than demanding that it be taken down, a Muslim group posted its own “Truthful Man” billboard nearby in response.
The story unfolded on June 5, 2017, when The Perfect Man billboard went up along I-465 in Indiana. Muslim groups said that the billboard contained bullet points that were meant to “disparage the Muslim faith and its primary prophet, Muhammad,” but we couldn’t find any examples of Muslims demanding that it be taken down.
A CBS affiliate in Indiana reported in June 2017 that Muslims voiced disappointment in the billboard, and that Muslim groups planned to raise money to post their own billboard in response:
There’s no company name or identifying group on the display, but Google “Truthophobes,” a word seen at the bottom of the billboard, and you’ll find a range of websites rife with anti-Muslim messages.
“We do support free speech, but we do realize this is also rooted in bigotry,” said Kahtri.
Other groups say they want to do more than just speak out against the display. The Muslim Alliance of Indiana says it’s planning to raise money to put up its own billboard nearby to spread a message of peace and kindness.
By July 20th, a Chicago-based Muslim group called GainPeace put up “The Truthful Man” billboard directly across from “The Perfect Man” billboard. The message on the new billboard, which was supposed to remain up through July 30th, was: “The truth about Muhammad. Get a free book on his life. Call 800-662-ISLAM,” the Indianapolis Star reports:
“We want to educate them that Muslims are not foreigners. We are not the others. We are Americans as much as any other American,” said Sabeel Ahmed, executive director of GainPeace. “Muslims have been living in this country for the last five centuries. We are not fresh off the boat. … In fact, Muslims have been living in this country way before Donald Trump’s grandparents came to the USA.”
Other portions of the campaign, titled “The truth about Muhammad: Peace be upon him,” include mailing out 15,000 postcards about Muhammad and creating a 30-second video to be shared on social media sites.
The Indianapolis Star later traced the Perfect Man billboard to a Virginia-based outdoor advertising firm run by a man named Don Smallwood. In a statement to the paper, Smallwood refused to identify the group that purchased the billboard:
IndyStar on Tuesday traced the billboard to a firm called LightPoint Impressions. Don Woodsmall, who was listed as a principal on the firm’s website, responded to inquiries from IndyStar with a 500-word statement in which he said he sold the ad to a “group of patriotic Americans” who were denied advertising by national companies.
Woodsmall declined to name the group behind the ad, saying it requested anonymity.
“Their desire, born out of love and not hate, is to launch a national conversation,” Woodsmall said in the statement.
So, while “The Perfect Man” billboard was posted along an interstate in Indiana in June 2017, Muslim groups didn’t demand that it be taken down. Instead, they posted “The Truthful Man” billboard across from it. That’s why we’re calling this one both truth and fiction.
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