Activists promoting coexistence just won a big victory in Australia against Islamophobia after more than $150,000 were raised to post billboards featuring Muslim girls celebrating their country's national day.
The campaign was launched after one billboard was removed due to backlash from right-wing groups in the country, according to ABC.
In the lead up to Australia Day on Jan. 26, the government of the state of Victoria published the original billboard in Melbourne to promote festivities for the holiday. The intent was clearly to promote a diverse image of Australians but due to threats, the agency that operates the ad space took the billboard down.
Anti-racism campaigners wouldn't stand for it. They launched a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe, aiming to raise money to share the image of the young patriotic Muslim girls on billboards around the country.
In just 24 hours, the campaign had raised $125,000. As of the time of writing, the campaign has passed $150,000.
The lead organizer behind the campaign, Dee Madigan, told ABC that a billboard featuring the girls would be back up in the original area within days. She also said more will be placed around the country in various cities.
Madigan said that she is "overwhelmed" by the rapid response because she often feels like the haters are winning.
"Then when this happens you just think, 'No they're not, there's a whole lot of really good people out there,'" she said.
"They put pressure on to take one down, we'll put 20 back up."
Madigan also pointed out the irony of the situation, saying that the same people who complain that Muslims Australians aren't assimilating complained about "two Muslim girls holding an Australian flag celebrating Australia Day."
The outpouring of support will undoubtedly encourage Australia's Muslim community, which has been facing unprecedented racism, according to Victorian Multicultural Commission Helen Kapalos.
"Racism is cyclical, but this brand of racism is not something that we've seen before and not encountered before, and I believe that this will have to be a sustained campaign," she said.
Fortunately, the haters definitely don't speak for everyone, as the successful crowdfunding campaign has revealed.