Slog Music

Music, Nightlife,
and Drinks

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Atheist Billboards in Arabic and Hebrew

Posted by on Thu, Mar 1, 2012 at 8:39 AM


The billboard wars between atheists and believers have raged for years now, especially around New York City, and a national atheist group is poised to take the battle a step further with billboards in Muslim and Jewish enclaves bearing messages in Arabic and Hebrew.

American Atheists, a national organization, will unveil the billboards Monday on Broadway in heavily Muslim Paterson, New Jersey and in a heavily Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood, immediately after the Williamsburg Bridge.

“You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice,” the billboards say. The Patterson version is in English and Arabic, and the Brooklyn one in English and Hebrew. To the right of the text on the Arabic sign is the word for God, Allah. To the right of the text on the Hebrew sign is the word for God, Yahweh.

We also need these billboards in certain neighborhoods in Cairo, Jerusalem, Bagdad, Gaza, and Tel Aviv. I also recommend Persian billboards for Tehran.


Comments (26) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Yes, because insulting people's beliefs is always the best way to practice diplomacy and reach new potential inductees...

I'm not a religious man. But I still try and respect people's beliefs. I'd support a billboard or other display anywhere there is a a religious display: That's a little less provocative in practice, although the religious folk might thing it's more so... perhaps limit it to public property where they're displaying religious symbols.

That sets up awesome court fights!

Although I respect people's religious (so long as they respect my choice to not believe in any god), I do not support religious displays on public land...
Posted by scratchmaster joe on March 1, 2012 at 8:59 AM · Report this
Yeah, I'm an atheist and I think this is obnoxious too. Ah well, there's douchebags in every group.
Posted by Amanda on March 1, 2012 at 9:03 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 3

There is no Persia. Do you mean Iranian?
Posted by Urgutha Forka on March 1, 2012 at 9:04 AM · Report this
Foghorn Leghorn 4
Trollin'...Trollin'...Trollin' on Broadway!
Posted by Foghorn Leghorn on March 1, 2012 at 9:19 AM · Report this
@3. Persian is a primary language spoken in Iran. I believe reasonable analogies for Persian/Iranian are Spanish/Mexican or English/American.
Posted by david on March 1, 2012 at 9:23 AM · Report this
Most Iranians speak Persian, which some call Farsi.
Posted by delwalk on March 1, 2012 at 9:26 AM · Report this
Vince 7
Telling people their beliefs are false is only fair since they spend all of their time telling each other the same thing. And, hopefully, it gets through.
Posted by Vince on March 1, 2012 at 9:41 AM · Report this
@Vince- I dunno, that sounds a lot like the good old "he did it first!" excuse. Which is tiresome from kids, but beyond unacceptable from adults.

I have to wonder what the goal of this project is- is it to genuinely get people to challenge their convictions and drop their faith, or is it just to be annoying, because "Free Speech! They annoyed us first!" I imagine this tactic achieves the latter admirably, but I'm less confident it makes much headway in the former.

Posted by Kumquat on March 1, 2012 at 9:51 AM · Report this
Pithy Name 9
I hope this is all they do - wouldn't want them to start using PETA tactics.
Posted by Pithy Name on March 1, 2012 at 10:00 AM · Report this

If you ask a person from Iran what they are, they will tell you that they are Persian. That is how they identify.
Posted by scratchmaster joe on March 1, 2012 at 10:20 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 11
They do? That's weird. It would be like a person from Turkey saying they're Ottoman. Or someone from Iraq saying they're Babylonian.

People are strange.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on March 1, 2012 at 10:38 AM · Report this
venomlash 12
How would you feel if you were constantly subjected to billboards urging you to convert to a theistic religion? Assholes.
Posted by venomlash on March 1, 2012 at 11:33 AM · Report this
@11: The Ottoman Empire was fundamentally a political entity that ceased to exist at a finite point in time.

Babylonia was a regional culture and a political entity (and never a language)... 3,500-2,500 years ago.

Persian is an ethnicity, a language, and fully intact culture. That you happen only to associate the word with an archaic political entity you read about once in a history book does not make other people "strange." It makes you ignorant.
Posted by d.p. on March 1, 2012 at 11:47 AM · Report this

Thank you, well stated.
Posted by scratchmaster joe on March 1, 2012 at 11:49 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 15
If only we could run an ad like that in English. But that would be too 'controversial' in much of the US. In fact, an ad that essentially says "some people exist" is too controversial.…

Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on March 1, 2012 at 11:50 AM · Report this
So they are going to shove their belief in lack of belief in the faces of people who believe differently? Um...ok
Posted by yumyum74 on March 1, 2012 at 12:01 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 17

Whatever you say, professor.

At one point in history, some people referred to themselves as Babylonians. No one does anymore. At some point, some people referred to themselves as Sumerians. No one does anymore.

Why? Because those places don't exist anymore.

Iran exists. Persia does not exist. That's a fact, "fully intact culture" notwithstanding.

If Iranians want to call themselves Persians, I don't care, but it IS strange.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on March 1, 2012 at 12:05 PM · Report this
doloresdaphne 18
Children on car trips through the city who see messages on billboards are likely to be the most impressionable audience.

Posted by doloresdaphne on March 1, 2012 at 12:47 PM · Report this
@17: My 50+ students with parents who fled Iran in the 70's identify as Persian and indicate that they speak Farsi. There is no "Iranian" language.
Posted by Approaching 40 in LA on March 1, 2012 at 12:58 PM · Report this
@17, I guess you missed the part where Persian is also a distinct ethnic group. One that comprises only about 2/3 of the population of Iran, and one which lives as a significant minority group in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, there is no Kurdistan in the world. Do you believe there are no longer Kurds? Do they not speak Kurdish?

Tibet has ceased to exist. Are the Tibetans all Chinese by default, in your addled mind?

There also might be some Basque-speakers who would like a word with you.

So let's review, dear Special Ed class:

Persian people: exist, don't all live in Iran.
Persian culture: exists, not synonymous with Iran.
Persian language: exists, not exclusive to Iran.

Reality: 1
Guy with dumb avatar doubling down on his questionable logic: 0

Posted by d.p. on March 1, 2012 at 1:10 PM · Report this
What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If religionists can use their tax-deductible contributions and tax-exempt properties to proselytize, atheists should be able to do the same without being attacked for it. And when toxic, unconstitutional dominionism is being fomented by theocratic politicians like Rick Santorum, the need to counter sectarian propaganda is greater than ever.

As for putting up pro-atheism billboards in Islamic countries, good luck. In many of them, it would constitute the crime of promoting apostasy. And even in the absence of official criminal sanctions, the sponsors would risk violence and death at the hands of the mob. Most Islamic societies -- even the ones we consider somewhat more enlightened -- don't respect freedom of conscience or freedom of expression with respect to religion.
Posted by PCM on March 1, 2012 at 1:11 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 22
There's no need for you to be such a condescending ass about it.

Like I said, if people want to call themselves "Persian," then they can knock themselves out. It's still strange to cling to something that's dead. Or maybe not strange, but sad and pitiable, clinging a past that's gone.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on March 1, 2012 at 2:16 PM · Report this

If you insist on (now) tripling down on you dipshittedness, than my condescension is justified.

There is nothing "dead" or "in the past" about the Persian language or the Persian people. Period.

But feel free to go through life presuming people speak "Myanmarish" or "Iraqian" or, say, "Americanish." Because that's literally how deep your ignorance is in this case.

Posted by d.p. on March 1, 2012 at 4:35 PM · Report this
Knat 24
@16: I'm not sure if you're trolling or not. I hope you are, but in either case, I don't feel like it's worth the effort to care.
Posted by Knat on March 1, 2012 at 4:42 PM · Report this
balderdash 25
@12, I don't know if you've been on a road recently, but I AM constantly confronted with theist billboards whenever I drive somewhere. There's one right up the street from my apartment informing me that little blobs of flesh have souls a month after conception.

There's also the matter of religion being so pervasive and assumed that the comparison you're making is really a false equivalence akin to calling affirmative action "reverse racism."
Posted by balderdash on March 1, 2012 at 5:08 PM · Report this
I do think it's obnoxious, but I agree with balderdash/25.
I'm a theist (of sorts) and I know my atheist/etc friends have to look at this shit all the time, esp here in the US Southeast plus all these Moroni-damned I'M MORMON billboards everywhere.
Posted by hominidX on March 1, 2012 at 8:59 PM · Report this

Add a comment

Commenting on this item is available only to registered commenters.

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy