A billboard on Old 63 was designed to send a message. To some, it’s the wrong message.

The billboard depicts a farmer next to the former king of Saudi Arabia with the question, "Who would you rather buy your gas from?" The bottom of the billboard reads: "Support the statewide ethanol standard."

Terry Hilgedick is the farmer on the billboard. He’s also the president of the Missouri Corn Growers Association and a Hartsburg farmer. He said the intent of the message from MCGA and the Missouri Renewable Fuels Association was to raise awareness that Americans now have choice about the source of their fuel.

"I think it is the first time in U.S. history that we have a choice between Middle Eastern oil or renewable fuel grown here in Missouri," he said. "I think it’s a fair question."

The MCGA has seven similar billboards throughout the state with Hilgedick and the king and 10 others with just Hilgedick and the caption "Use ethanol, we’ll grow more."

But some feel the billboard with the Saudi king conveys a message of animosity toward a group of people rather than pushing awareness of an economic choice for corn-based ethanol fuel. 

"Just looking at the board implies hate and discrimination for no reason," Kamal Yassin, president of the St. Louis chapter for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told The Associated Press.

A local minister this morning said that there is a better way to deal with the issue.

(ST. LOUIS, MO, 6/6/06) – On June 3, a group of volunteers from the St. Louis Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-St. Louis) helped local PBS affiliate KETC-TV Channel 9 raise $50,000 during its membership drive. Sixteen volunteers took part in the event, which lasted from 5:30 to 10 p.m.

(ST. LOUIS, MO, 6/11/06) – CAIR-St. Louis recently hosted a workshop on employment discrimination issues at Darul Islam Mosque. The seminar was co-sponsored by the Adult Education Committee of the Islamic Foundation of St. Louis.

EEOC District Director James Neely and Joan Suarez from Jobs With Justice offered presentations about employee rights and what should one do if he or she believes that any discrimination has occurred based on faith, color, race, age, or ethnicity. Neely and Suarez answered many questions from the workshop participants.

CAIR-St. Louis Executive Director James Hacking met today with a group of foreign journalists as part of the U.S. State Department's International Visitor Program to discuss grassroots organizing and the participation of Muslims in the U.S. political process.

Hacking was asked to meet with the delegation of journalists as part of the State Department's program entitled "Journalism, Society and the Political Process in the United States."

The discussion focused on increased participation of local Muslims in politics, the local CAIR Chapter's media watchdog efforts, the portrayal of Islam in the media, and CAIR's national voter registration drive.

CONTACT: CAIR-St. Louis, James Hacking, 314-602-3794, E-mail:
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James Hacking

When three area Muslims were called recently by the FBI for an "informal  interview," the men arrived accompanied by attorney James Hacking. As head  of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, St. Louis Chapter, Hacking  lends not only his time but also his legal services to the city's estimated  65,000 Muslim residents. "We do a lot of interfaith stuff," says Hacking,  whose local chapter has roughly 350 members. "We work with Muslims who've  been discriminated against. We work with the media to give an accurate  portrayal of Islam and we try to educate the general public that we're not  all a bunch of terrorists."

CONTACT: CAIR-St. Louis, James Hacking, 636-207-8882, E-mail:
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CAIR-MO vision is to be a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding. Our mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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