Owner of controversial Muslim billboard defends message

INDIANAPOLIS  – The group responsible for a controversial billboard on the east side of Indianapolis is pleased their message is prompting discussions about Islam and the causes of terrorism, according to the businessman who owns the sign.

However, according to the billboard owner, his clients want to remain anonymous. A Muslim group and one of Indiana’s congressmen have criticized the sign saying its message amounts to hate speech.

The group in question has two billboards – one in Indiana and the other in Texas. Drivers traveling south on Interstate 465 in Indianapolis see the billboard on the east side of the interstate, just south of Washington Street.

The top of the sign says, “The Perfect Man.” Underneath are six bullet points with information that appear to describe that man – “Married 6 year old,” “Slave owner & dealer,” “Rapist,” “Beheaded 600 Jews in one day,” “13 wives, 11 at one time,” and “Tortured & killed unbelievers.” The bottom of the sign says, “Educate Truthophobes.”

Don Woodsmall, a West Virginia businessman, says he owns the sign and agreed to place the “Perfect Man” campaign after other national companies turned down his clients.

“My clients want this national conversation to happen if we are ever to overcome the violence that plagues Islam,” he wrote to 13 Investigates. “This is not only pro-American, but beneficial to Muslims who came to America to escape the Sharia.”

Monday, Rep. Andre Carson (D-Indiana), who is Muslim, told CNN the message was “unacceptable, disappointing, and…un-American.”

Rima Shahid, the executive director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana, told Eyewitness News earlier this week, “As a Muslim and an American, I’m outraged…I didn’t think there was room for hate in our city and our state and this billboard tells me otherwise.”

The signs do not mention the Prophet Muhammad or Islam directly. In his statement, Woodsmall says, “It is interesting to note… the Muslim community knew exactly who it was referring to. The truth is a powerful weapon.”

He says he accepted the billboard after researching the information on the sign. Woodsmall says he spoke to a half-dozen Islamic scholars and reviewed a number of Islamic texts.

“I was convinced that each point listed on the billboard was historically and factually true. I would encourage others to do their own research to verify the veracity of each and every point,” Woodsmall wrote. He also noted that he would remove the billboards if the statements are proven to be false.

Billboard permit questions

13 Investigates has learned that the sign in question may not be properly permitted by the state of Indiana.

Billboards along certain highways require a permit from the Indiana Department of Transportation. When ownership of a sign changes, that information is to be updated with the state.

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