For American Muslims, and other minority groups, U.S. President Donald Trump's slogan "make American great again" has become a chilling xenophobic rallying cry. But Muslims in the U.S. decided to cleverly turn Trump's message around in a clever way.
Installed to coincide with Ramadan, at initial glance, the billboards might appear to be an extension of Trump's propaganda. When examined closer, it becomes clear that this is a reminder of just how important Muslims are to "making American great."
Reading "Making America great with love, compassion and mercy," the billboard directs viewers to a hotline and a website – titled Why Islam – to learn more about what the religion really stands for.
The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), a volunteer-based organization along with other Muslim groups, has posted some 30 of these signs around the country, in an effort to change inaccurate stereotypes and raise awareness about their religion.
"Everyone in [the U.S.] is making America great when we all work together to serve neighbors and solve our problems," a spokesperson for the Florida branch of ICNA told the Miami Herald. The group runs women's shelters, feeds the homeless on a regular basis and provides services to refugees.
Showing what true Islam actually is
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has also co-sponsored the billboards. In an interview with a Florida TV channel, Aida Mackic, a CAIR spokesperson explained that "making America great doesn't mean that we have to be all the same."
"It's the diversity that makes us so great," she said.
She also stressed that billboards and the website are not intended to convert anyone. Instead, they are meant to dispel misconceptions and provide accurate information about the global religion.
"ISIS [the so-called Islamic State or Daesh] is the biggest threat to Islam," Mackic said. "This is one way that Muslims can actually show what true Islam is."
Trump's plan to "Make America Great"
Since taking office in January, Trump has attempted twice to enforce a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries. Although both executive orders have been blocked in federal courts, the legal battle hasn't finished yet.
U.S. borders have also become significantly less friendly to Muslims, even those who are U.S. citizens. According to a report by CAIR, Islamophobic incidents at the country's borders spiked 1,000 percent since Trump took office.
Numerous high-profile American Muslims, including the son of legendary boxer and activist Muhammad Ali and the first-ever American hijabi Olympic athlete and medal winner Ibtihaj Muhammad have both been pulled aside for question upon reentering the country.
Islamophobic hate crimes are also on the rise in the U.S. Experts argue that xenophobic Americans have been emboldened by Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric. As a result, Muslim activists and allies have ramped up efforts to challenge the hate and raise awareness about their community.