Aneelah Afzali, executive director of MAPS-AMEN and creator of Facts Over Fear campaign, hugs an event attendee before a recent presentation. Photo courtesy of Jeremy Kwong

Aneelah Afzali, executive director of MAPS-AMEN and creator of Facts Over Fear campaign, hugs an event attendee before a recent presentation. Photo courtesy of Jeremy Kwong

National Facts Over Fear campaign launches in Redmond

Facts Over Fear campaign is intended to dispute misconceptions spread by anti-Muslim hate groups.

On Monday, Feb. 10, the Musilm Association of Puget Sound held a launch party for the national “Facts Over Fear” campaign.

The event was attended by multiple Redmond City Council members, local charities and dozens of community members. The campaign, in opposition to hatred of Muslims, was created by Aneelah Afzali, executive director of American Muslim Empowerment Network at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS-AMEN), as well as the Rev. Terry Kyllo, executive director of the Paths to Understanding.

The evening started with a buffet style spread of assorted finger foods inspired by Muslim culture. As attendees continued to shuffle into the room, each video was played, followed by a short explanation of the video’s message from Afzali and Kyllo.

“We’re trying to share the positive, truthful story about American Muslims,” Kyllo said. “We know that the anti-Muslim hate groups, and actually a lot of traditional media, kind of repeat a negative narrative around American Muslims that really denies and tells a false story about the positive contributions of American Muslims in our country.”

The Facts Over Fear campaign uses five animated videos to counter anti-Muslim bigotry. The first of the three-minute videos was released Monday, Feb. 10, a date chosen to honor the three Muslim college students murdered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina five years ago.

“These videos are intended to address some of the specific myths and misconceptions that those anti-Muslim groups promote and directly give actual factual information, instead of the fear and the fear mongering,” Afzali said.

Facts Over Fear campaign starts with an introduction video, an overview of the misinformed work of anti-Muslim hate groups. Each of the remaining four videos addresses a different common misconception or conspiracy theory promoted by the anti-Muslim hate industry, Islam and Peace, Islam and other Religions, What is Shariah and Islam and Women’s Rights.

“We want to try to help people understand positive stories about our American Muslim neighbors, and to realize that we need to learn about Islam from Muslims and not learn about Islam from people who hate Muslims,” Kyllo said. “Just like me as a Christian. I mean, I want people to learn about us from us.”

According to a press release, during election years the misinformation and falsehoods promoted by anti-Muslim hate groups sometimes is repeated by politicians, feeding the fear about Muslims and other American minority groups.

The videos will be released once a week for the next four weeks.

“The important thing for folks to take away from this is the fact that we have a lot in common and to really connect over our commonalities and not be manipulated by the fear and misinformation of the anti-Muslim hate groups,” Afzali said.

The videos can be found online at www.factsoverfear.org as well as on social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at Facts Over Fear campaign.

“They can sign up [on the website] so that they can get information about the campaign,” Afzali said. “They can like the videos, share the videos, promote the videos and the whole Facts Over Fear campaign to the various groups and platforms that they may have, and really be part of this movement. That’s what we’re trying to do — build a movement of facts over fear, love over hate, hope over the hurt that a lot of people are experiencing right now. We are trying to mobilize the good in people and really connect people in good consciousness across racial backgrounds, religious backgrounds, political lines, or any other divides that we may have, and really promote unity as a nation promoting what are the essential aspirational American values in our country.”


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