London’s iconic red buses and public transport in other UK cities will carry banner adverts featuring the Arabic phrase “Subhan Allah” (Glory be to God) in a bid to encourage British Muslims to support Syrian war victims.
The posters will appear on hundreds of buses during Ramadan, which begins at sunrise on June 6 and lasts until July 7.
The start of the campaign will begin a month after London elected the first Muslim mayor of a major Western city, Labour’s Sadiq Khan – who, coincidentally, is the son of a bus driver.
Islamic Relief, a Muslim charity, is funding the campaign, which will be rolled out in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Bradford.
Organizers hope it will present Islam in a positive way and encourage British Muslims to donate to humanitarian efforts for victims of the ongoing war in Syria.
Islamic Relief director Imran Madden said: “In a sense this could be called a climate change campaign because we want to change the negative climate around international aid and around the Muslim community in this country.
“International aid has helped halve the number of people living in extreme poverty in the past 15 years, and British Muslims are an incredibly generous community who give over £100 million to international aid charities in Ramadan.”
While the campaign has received support from prominent British Muslims, including England cricketer Moheen Ali, the decision by Transport for London (TfL) to allow the posters has been criticized by others.
Baroness Hussein-Ece, herself a Muslim, tweeted: “I can’t see the point of the ‘Praise Allah’ bus campaign. Religion should be a private matter IMHO.”
TfL said it does not permit political posters on its network, but religious campaigns are allowed.
The former London mayor, Boris Johnson, once banned a Christian charity from advertising so-called “gay conversion therapy” on TfL services following public outrage.
Christian Institute spokesperson Simon Calvert said he hoped the “Subhan Allah” campaign “signals the beginning of a new era of greater expressions of the Christian faith, which seems to have become persona non grata.”