Backlash over messages reading “For the Love of Allah” on Manchester buses a year after the city was hit by a deadly terror attack has been slammed by transport bosses as “totally unacceptable”.
Featuring “For the Love of Allah save a life now” emblazoned across 100 Greater Manchester buses, the Islamic Relief advertising campaign was slammed on social media, where users argued it was “cruel and insensitive” to promote such a message not long after 23 people were killed in an Islamic radical bomb attack in May last year.
After receiving complaints and threats to boycott over the campaign, which was branded “an insult to grieving families”, bus operator First Manchester initially apologised via Twitter, and informed customers it had passed feedback onto the external firm which manages the company’s advertising space.
However, according to the Manchester Evening News, the company later posted a message reading: “A religious advert on some of our vehicles has led to racist comments, which we do not condone.”
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) acknowledged public outcry over the adverts in a statement which blasted “the content and tone of many of the comments that have been made” as “totally unacceptable”.
In response to tweets we've received about a national campaign by the Islamic Relief charity appearing on local buses: pic.twitter.com/5jtXIAjufr
— TfGM (@OfficialTfGM) April 30, 2018
Declaring the region to be one which is “inclusive and diverse”, and “takes pride in welcoming people from all backgrounds”, the public body said it would not be responding to complaints about the campaign.
The head of communications at Islamic Relief, Judith Escribano, said the charity “had no wish to cause offence to anyone” and that the campaign was launched in the run-up to Ramadan, which she described as a “uniquely generous time of year for Muslims”.
“We do not believe that this is an offensive message. Allah is the name of God in Islam. It would be inaccurate to use the word ‘God’ instead of Allah,” she told the Manchester Evening News.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 9, 2016
“People often hear Islamic Relief’s name and assume either we are a proselyting organisation or that we are concerned solely with Muslims helping their own.
“We have been able to challenge these prejudices in the past as a result of healthy public debate about our campaigns. We are a purely humanitarian organisation and assist people of all faiths and none.”
Breitbart London reported in 2016 when Islamic Relief ran a similar campaign on London buses, declaring “Glory to Allah”.
Imran Madden, a British convert to Islam and director of Islamic Relief’s United Kingdom Branch said at the time: “There is a lot of negativity around Muslims at the moment involving things such as counterterrorism issues.
“We want to change for the better the perception of Islam. The bus campaign is about breaking down barriers and challenging misconceptions”.