Call it the Trump Effect.
Georgia Muslims have staged an unprecedented media blitz in recent days, speaking out against both Islamophobia and terrorism during appearances on television and radio shows in Atlanta, as well as in local newspapers.
CBS 46 News, local NPR station WABE, The Bert Show on 99.7 FM, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fox 5 Atlanta, and the Marietta Daily Journal have published comments from various Georgia Muslims, including members of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta (ISB), AtlantaMuslim.com, the Islamic Community Center of Atlanta (ICCA), and Masjid Al Furqan, among other local mosques and organizations. In addition, many of these organizations have taken out a full page ad on the Atlanta Journal Constitution
Inspired by both Trump's anti-Muslim immigration plan and the San Bernardino shooting, the media campaign has given voice to American Muslims who often complain about media bias.
"If were not for Trump, I would never have felt the need to go on the news," said Shuaib Hanief, a member of the Atlanta Muslim community.
CBS 46 interviewed representatives from the ISB, the ICCA and Hanief on Monday.
The segment, which aired on the six o'clock evening news, focused on Haneif's concerns about how anti-Muslim animus might harm his family, including his wife, who wears a hijab, and his 12 year-old son, who has noticed news reports about Trump's comments about Muslims.
"Yes, Muslims are getting together because of Trump," Hanief said. "However, the real solution for our community is to stop being a closet Muslim and dispel fears by actually allowing someone of a different faith to know you."
Indeed, the American Muslim campaign against Islamophobia and terrorism has not been limited to media appearances.
LaunchGood.com, a Muslim crowd-funding website designed to highlight and finance positive Islamic causes, has raised $118,000 and counting for victims of the San Bernardino shooting since Dec. 3.
“We wish to respond to evil with good, as our faith instructs us, and send a powerful message of compassion through action," organizers said in a statement. "Our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: 'Have mercy to those on earth, and the One in the Heavens (God) will have mercy upon you.' And the Quran teaches to 'Repel evil by that which is better' (41:34).”
Earlier this week, a wide variety of religious groups in Atlanta, including the Islamic Speakers Bureau, gathered for an interfaith gathering titled, “We Refuse To Be Enemies."
Twenty Georgia mosques and Islamic organizations have also signed a press release meant to run as a full-page advertisement in the AJC.
In the public message, signatories condemn the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, invite readers to donate to the LaunchGood campaign for victims, and encourage non-Muslims to schedule visits to their local mosques to learn about Islam and Muslims.
"Given the intense climate, we understand that our fellow Georgians may have unanswered questions and concerns about Muslim beliefs in general as well as our particular position towards repeated tragedies such as the San Bernardino shooting," the statement says. "Therefore, several local mosques and other Muslim organizations are opening their doors to visitors. We encourage who are interested to reach out and schedule a visit."
If this trend of activism continues, observers say, Donald Trump may have helped the oft-besieged American Muslim community find an important gift: its own voice.
Edward Mitchell is an attorney who serves as Copy Editor of AtlantaMuslim.com and previously worked as a freelance reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He also serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Islamic Community Center of Atlanta. Edward received his undergraduate degree from Morehouse College and his graduate degree from Georgetown University Law Center, where he served as president of the law school's Muslim Students Association. Follow him on Twitter @edmovie.
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