Religious leaders denounce anti-Muslim billboard; owner defends campaign

A billboard along Interstate 465 on the west side of Indianapolis is drawing attention on June 6, 2017. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A group for interfaith religious leaders assembled Friday to denounce a billboard they say carries an anti-Muslim message that insults Muslims and members of other faiths alike.

The billboard, posted along I-465 near the east side of Indianapolis recently, carries the words “The Perfect Man” in bold letters along with boxes checked that make references to violence, polygamy and slavery.

Members of the Indiana Muslim community said the billboard distorts the true meaning of Islam; and interfaith leaders of various faiths echoed those remarks.

“The Center for Interfaith Cooperation condemns the billboard,” said one member of the center.

Razi Nalim, the president of Muslim Alliance of Indiana, said, “The Hoosier Muslim community is upset and insulted by the derogatory remarks displayed.

“(The billboard) is derogatory and hateful because the intent is clearly to insult our beloved Prophet Mohammed,” Nalim said.

It’s not clear who the group is behind the billboard. But a group using the Twitter handle “Truthophobes” tweed a picture of the billboard on Thursday along with a link to an anti-Muslim group.

Don Woodsmall confirmed in an email to I-Team 8 that he was the owner of the billboard. He refused to name the group behind it, saying they requested anonymity.

In a lengthy response to questions, Woodsmall wrote that “a group of patriotic Americans approached me to rent the billboards after they were turned down by the national companies. The group couldn’t remain inactive any longer while little children were being blown up in Manchester (England) and other places around the world.”

Woodsmall said he would agree to take down the billboard tomorrow if any of the statements on it were incorrect.

When asked about that, Nalim said he would not dignify those assertions with a response but did say, “Mohammed did have more than one wife, but so did Moses and other historical religious figures.”

Nalim said he would invite those behind the billboard to have a conversations about the true meaning of Islam.

When asked if he thought they would be open to that invitation, Nalim said, “I don’t know. But I won’t stop trying.”

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