By William Wan
On the premise that nothing makes a better gift than a good book, a Muslim civil liberties group is launching a campaign to hand out 100,000 free copies of an expensive Arabic-English copy of the Qur’an to elected officials and influential policy makers.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is planning to announce their campaign at a press conference Tuesday. The group’s executive director said the project was inspired after hearing people in his office heard Obama’s speech to the Muslim world last month, in which Obama talked about seeking “a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.”
“When he quoted the Koran on the fundamental values we share such as sanctity of human life, racial diversity, importance of speaking the truth, we believe it was a surprise to many people not familiar with Islam,” said Nihad Awad.
The hope is that by reading the Qur’an, the central holy text of Islam, elected leaders and others will better understand Muslims and the Islamic faith and ease prejudices that have increased sine 9/11.
“One major source of Islamaphobia is a lack of accurate information and idea about muslims. Perhaps this will change some of that,” Awad said.
The book, Awad says, is an expensive $78 version, which has Arabic text, the English translation along with English commentary. CAIR, which is subsidizing the project, is asking Muslims requesting a book to give to their local officials to pay $45 per copy.
The group is planning to issue copies to from U.S. congressmen and state governors down to the local level like police chiefs and city councils. Even if the officials don’t end up actually reading the book, the group believes the act of giving the book will spark dialogue that didn’t exist before.