A series of controversial advertisementshave been displayed on some San Francisco MUNI buses, using a word some Americans have come to fear: Jihad.
The Muslim community said the Arabic word "jihad" is often misinterpreted by non-Muslims. The word means "struggle," according to CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations -- a struggle in the sense of trying to get to a better place by building friendships, staying physically fit or not judging others.
The campaign faces an uphill battle -- most people KTVU spoke with Thursday equated "jihad” with violence and death.
"Unfortunately the term 'jihad' has been hijacked by both Muslim and anti-Muslim extremists, to push forward holy war and armed struggle" said Zahara Billoo, executive director of CAIR in a telephone interview.
Reaction by the public has been mixed. "At least it will get the conversation going," said Meryle Tank of El Sobrante. "And conversation is always good."
"I think anything that's going to help raise people’s awareness, and maybe help diminish some negative stereotypes people have is probably a good thing,” said Phil Dinuzzo of San Francisco.
The ad campaign started in Chicago, and will be on San Francisco buses until the end of January.
CAIR said it will move the ads to other major United States cities, to try and reclaim a word that represents a central tenet in the Islamic creed.
Watchdogs are questioning an exclusive agreement between the City of Oakland and a non-profit group, tapped to lead a multi-million dollar project to redevelop the area around the Coliseum BART station.