A billboard in St. Augustine, Florida is bringing unwanted attention for residents who don’t appreciate the message. In a font worthy of some cheesy death metal band, the words “Islam Bloody Islam, Doomed by Its Doctrine” scream alongside a busy highway. In this local ABC Action News video, Becky Williams tells reporters how she’s shielding her daughter from the slogan, and she hopes that the company who hosts the billboard will remove the signage.
The Daily Beast did some digging and notes that an individual, not a group or organization, purchased the ad space, but no one’s sure who’s responsible. Another wrinkle has to do with protected speech issues, as some residents (who wouldn’t speak on camera in the above video) say they don’t have a problem with the billboard. Meanwhile, an internet petition calls for the removal of this message and reads as follows:
We should always stand up for those in our community who are shown hatred and intolerance. We should be outraged that a billboard with this message could in any way represent our community as a whole. It is of the utmost importance that we stand against messages and movements that isolate, judge and threaten an entire sect of people who share our same hometown.
So far, the petition has drawn over five thousand signatures worldwide and has sparked overseas media coverage, as well. Not only are Floridians upset, but signers hail from as far away as Africa, France, India, and Nigeria. Some folks are joking on Twitter that this is a “Florida” incident. But such wry humor may be sarcasm, for the reality is that Islamophobia runs worldwide.