"There's a lack of understanding," said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Los Angeles (CAIR). "People fear what they don't know. People are afraid of the dark. People, they don't know what Muslims are or who they are. There are people who are exploiting this ignorance and misinformation that exists for their own agendas. There are some people who have an anti-Muslim bigotry that drives them."
CAIR is starting a nationwide campaign to educate people about Muslims and take the edge off the bigotry. The three public service announcements started airing Wednesday.
Existing mosques like one in Fullerton have been the targets of hate calls and hate mail. National polls indicate that a growing number of Americans don't trust Muslims and don't accept the religion's beliefs as peaceful.
The public service announcements have been sent to networks and television stations nationwide.
Ameena Qazi wears the Muslim Hijab headscarf. She was born and raised in the United States.
"It's hurtful when we have our own people stirring this hate against us," said Qazi. "It's like our own. We don't view them as others or we're others; it's like our own."
Islamaphobia may be greater now than after 9-11. The public service announcements are one attempt to show people it's unwarranted.