Public Curious Over I-94 Billboard in Rogers

A billboard of a woman in a niqab went up on I-94 in Rogers at the beginning of June, prompting calls to the sign company from the public.  Copy was added to the billboard in July, which now reads “Should America Fear Sharia?”

The billboard is sponsored by the Center for Security Policy, a Washington, D.C. based national security think tank. The site consists mostly of links to videos discussing different topics about Islam and Islamic extremism. The home page urges visitors to sign a petition to ban Sharia Law in the United States. The petition has gathered only 22 signatures as of July 9th.

The billboard was contracted out by the Center with Franklin Outdoor Advertising, a billboard company in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“The billboard went up the beginning of June,” Franklin salesperson Chris Barta said, “Last Friday we switched it out and put up the one with the website.”

The website advertisement billboard will be up from July 1st through the end of the month when the advertisement contract expires.

The Center for Security Policy’s website contains articles and videos on national security threats of Islamic terrorism.

In the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, the Center’s executive vice president Jim Hanson called the attack, “completely in keeping with totalitarian Islamic code called Shariah.”

Franklin Outdoor Advertising received a number of calls from the public regarding the billboard according to Barta, mostly in June when there was no text accompanying the image on the sign.

“People were wondering what it was because it didn’t have anything but a woman in a burqa and they were wondering what it was,” Barta said, “The majority of phone calls we fielded we just told them to wait for the website to go up.”

Barta said that curiosity had been the prevailing attitude towards the billboard, which is the only one of its kind which the Center for Security Policy contracted out to Franklin. Barta has not heard any negative feedback and saw no problem with the advertisement.

“It’s an ad. We’re not going to run anything we would deem offensive,” Barta said, “Obviously we’re not going to run anything we know to be a blatant or flat out lie or untrue. In this case it was asking a question and it’s their point of view.”

Neither the Center for Security Policy nor the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations replied to requests for comment.

Anders Koskinen