A nationwide billboard campaign to raise awareness about Islam has reached San Diego.
Right now drivers can see what’s believed to be the first such visual display in this area on the southbound side of State Route 163 at Balboa Avenue.
"It really hurts any Muslim to see their faith being abused by others,” says Hanif Mohebi, executive director of the San Diego office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“This is one way to give people the right information and welcome them -- and say 'Here's a 24-hour hotline'."
Mohebi explained the goals of the campaign in an interview Thursday as the billboards spread to more than a dozen metropolitan areas nationwide.
Reportedly, more than 130 are now offering access to a message that peace and justice, not deadly extremism, are the true calling cards of Islam.
Organizers of the campaign say the American Muslim community is deeply concerned about a backlash against its members in the wake of escalating global violence by extremist, Jihadi elements such as Isis.
Earlier this year, hate ads targeting Muslims were seen on municipal buses in Philadelphia.
San Diego County is home to an estimated 120,000 Muslims. Local leaders say there's a backlog of 200 cases of discrimination and threats in this community.
As a result, Mohebi says, it’s time to reach out to the wider community and “open the lines of communications, perhaps break bread, talk about things – versus assuming and taking action ... all we're saying is, 'Why don't you come and talk to us and see where we go from there'?"
The billboards, which cost an average of $3,000 a month, are said to have gotten a 70 percent positive response.
As for the rest?
"There are people that may be hostile, may be negative, and that's fine,” Mohebi told NBC 7. “The person that will pick up the phone will be nice … and they will be more than happy to answer any questions or clarify."