Ad campaign to counter negative views of Muslims

An advertising campaign aimed at combating negative perceptions of Muslims was launched today as a new poll showed a majority of people in the UK associate Islam with terrorism.

The Inspired By Muhammad campaign on the London Underground, bus stops and taxis will feature pictures of Muslim professionals including TV presenter and Islam convert Kristiane Backer.

Organiser the Exploring Islam Foundation said the campaign aims to highlight the Prophet Mohamed's teachings to Muslims on the importance of the environment, gender equality and social justice.

The launch comes as an online survey of 2,152 UK adults carried out last month showed 58% of people associate Islam with extremism and 50% associate the world religion with terrorism.

The poll also found that 69% believe Islam encourages the repression of women.

Remona Aly, campaigns director of the Exploring Islam Foundation, said: "We are a group of young Muslim professionals and a lot of us have given our time voluntarily because we are very concerned about the way our faith is perceived by the public.

"We want to foster a greater understanding of what British Muslims are about and our contribution to British society. We are proud of being British and being Muslim."

A spokesman for Quilliam, the counter-extremism think tank, said: "We welcome the Inspired By Muhammad campaign as a valuable and timely step to help improve relations and foster deeper understanding between British citizens.

"This campaign is important because it can help non-Muslims to better understand the faith that inspires and guides their Muslim friends, neighbours and colleagues.

"This initiative also helps British Muslims reclaim the Prophet Mohamed as a time-honoured guide for peace, compassion and social justice from those who seek to twist his teachings."