Atheist NYC billboards in Hebrew, Arabic

March 1, 2012 at 8:04 PM

NEW YORK, March 1 (UPI) -- The president of American Atheists said billboards the organization puts up around New York City are meant to encourage "atheists to come out of the closet."

The group has plans to unveil billboards Monday that say, "You know it's a myth ... and you have a choice" -- one in Arabic and one in Hebrew. They will be erected in heavily Muslim Paterson, N.J., and in a heavily Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood, CNN reported Thursday.

The organization had previously put up billboards questioning the reason for celebrating the Christmas holidays last year.

"Those communities are designed to keep atheists in the ranks," American Atheists President Dave Silverman said. "If there are atheists in those communities, we are reaching out to them. We are letting them know that we see them, we acknowledge them and they don't have to live that way if they don't want to."

Mohamed Elfilali, executive director of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, said the billboards are intended to polarize society, though he said he laughed when he learned about them.

"It is not the first and won't be the last time people have said things about God or religion," Elfilali said. "I respect people's opinion about God; obviously they are entitled to it."

"There will be more billboards," Silverman said. "We are not going to be limiting to Muslims and Jews, we are going to be putting up multiple billboards in multiple communities in order to get atheists to come out of the closet."

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