October 1st, 2010
03:08 PM ET
They’d grown tired of the frenzy swirling around discussions of an Islamic center near ground zero. They were sick of being feared and misunderstood. They didn't want the same talking heads representing them and their beliefs.
So a grassroots campaign called “My Faith My Voice” was born to let everyday Muslims speak for themselves.
Launched online one month ago by young American Muslim professionals in the Washington, D.C., area, the online campaign invites Muslims to upload their own 30-second message to Americans – a public service announcement, of sorts, to help viewers understand who American Muslims really are.
More than 200 PSAs have been uploaded so far, telling stories of what Islam means and what being Muslim means to those who’ve participated.
They include Noor, who wants people to know she’s the daughter of a Vietnam vet, the wife of a former Marine and an American woman who honors her faith by respecting others.
There’s Jay, a DJ and music producer who says he loves all mankind, “unless you’re a Boston Red Sox fan, but that’s just the New Yorker in me talking.”
And there’s Nagla, who wants viewers to know she was not forced into marriage and chooses to wear her headscarf.
Jumping into the discussion this week is Native Deen, a Muslim hip-hop group that released a PSA in the form of a music video entitled “My Faith My Voice.”
“We saw the campaign, and we wanted to do something,” says Abdul-Malik Ahmad, 35, who lives in the Washington, D.C., area and is a web developer for NASA when he isn’t steeped in music.
“We felt that we really needed to come out with something to explain what most, the majority of Muslims in this country and around the world feel about terrorism and how they feel about tolerance and respect for other faiths, respect for humanity and for human life.”
Through the lyrics, Ahmad and the other Native Deen artists - Joshua Salaam and Naeem Muhammad - put forth a message:
Critical to the campaign says Rabiah Ahmed, one of the project’s managers, is to give voice to all sorts of Muslims living in America.
“We want to showcase the reality, the diversity, the immigrant Muslims, those with thick accents, those that don’t have accents,” she says of the volunteer-driven effort. “And we wanted it to be completely grassroots and independent so it didn’t carry with it any of the political baggage.”
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.