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‘Hey ISIS, You Suck': Muslims erect billboard with a tough message for the Islamic State

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This is the billboard that was erected in Chicago.

This is the billboard that was erected in Chicago.

Sound Vision

A group of Muslims in Chicago have erected a new billboard that delivers a pointed message to the Islamic State. It reads: "Hey ISIS, You Suck."

The billboard, which has a black background and includes text that looks like it was written with chalk, has a reference to "Quran 5:32" and the hashtag "#ActualMuslims."

The latter clearly takes aim at the Islamic State's interpretation of both the Quran and the Muslim faith.

The giant placard was placed off of I-294 by Sound Vision Foundation, an Illinois-based nonprofit organization that seeks to create content that will help "build bridges of understanding among Muslims and their neighbors."

"We wanted to choose a place that was high traffic," Leena Suleiman, a Sound Vision representative, told WMAQ-TV.

According to the organization's website, the campaign was dreamed up by "a group of young American Muslim fathers on a WhatsApp group in Chicago." Around 60 people in the Chicago area helped fund the effort.

The impetus, according to Suleiman, is the frustration many Muslims have felt following recent terror attacks, with those behind the billboard working to publicly separate themselves from the horrors perpetuated by the Islamic State.

"It's about shouting out, 'ISIS does not represent me, I'm Muslim, I say the word 'sucks,' I'm like everyone else in my country," Suleiman told the outlet. "We want to scream it from a billboard."

She continued, saying that the intended audience is "people who need to hear that Muslims are not OK with what ISIS is doing."

Sound Vision is encouraging others to bring the "ISIS Sucks" campaign to their cities and towns as well, offering up a series of tips to try to make that happen.

If interested parties are willing to fundraise and reach out to Sound Vision for help, the organization has pledged to come alongside them by helping find practical billboard locations, negotiating with companies, providing graphics, penning a press release, offering media training and promoting the billboards.

It should be noted that Quran 5:32, the verse referenced on the billboard, reads: "Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land — it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one — it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors."

This is a verse that has created a great deal of debate between Muslims and non-Muslims, as supporters of the faith will point to it to show that Islam is inherently peaceful and that the religion views life as sacred.

But, as The Christian Post reported, critics have also pointed to the verse that follows this text, claiming that Quran 5:32 isn't being used in context.

Verse 33 reads, "Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment."

Muslims, though, have often countered that these penalties are related to terrorist acts and that there are specific elements that must be understood when interpreting what is actually being said in verses 32-33, as can be read here.

Regardless of the theological debate, Suleiman said that the billboard effort intends to challenge Islamophobia, while also letting the public know that Muslims are actually the biggest targets of the Islamic State.

"We launched the campaign in light of the constant pressure on American Muslims to condemn ISIS, especially since Muslims are the biggest victims of ISIS," she told Salon. "The statistics speak louder on how ISIS's main target is Muslims than anyone’s opinion or feelings about the situation."

Email: bhallowell@deseretnews.com, Twitter: billyhallowell, Facebook: facebook.com/billyhallowell