By Ahmed Maher, IOL Staff
CAIRO, February 21, 2006 (IslamOnline.net) – When world renowned American talk show host Oprah Winfrey announced a hero voting competition, she asked people to send true stories about a teacher, a firefighter, a parent or a relative, who has done something extraordinary for them.
But many Muslims are voting in the longest-running daytime television talk show in the United States for Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).
"This is an opportune moment to vote in droves for our prophet on Oprah's Web site to draw the world attention to our religion and the prophet of Islam," a young lady using the name Hadeel said in a contribution to IslamOnline.net Discussion Forum.
She exhorted other participants in the forum to vote for the prophet in the world's leading talk show.
Twelve cartoons, one showing the Prophet with a bomb-shaped turban, were first published in September by Denmark's mass-circulation daily Jyllands-Posten, and later reprinted by newspapers in many countries on the ground of freedom of expression.
The caricatures, considered blasphemous under Islam, have triggered massive and sometimes violent demonstrations across the Muslim world, with no sign of abating.
But the controversy has also prompted many Muslim minorities worldwide to launch local campaigns to introduce the prophet to fellow compatriots and wash away any misconceptions or stereotyped image.
IslamOnline.net decided earlier in February to launch a multi-lingual Web site to acquaint non-Muslims with the prophet.
Hadeel's appeal received immediate response from many Muslims.
"It is a great idea," said a Muslim male who used the name Gogi 48.
"I visited the Web site and voted for my hero Muhammmad.
"Instead of voting in Star Academy, go and vote in Oprah's show," he urged fellow Muslims, referring to one of the hottest incarnations of reality TV in the Arab world, which was harshly criticized amid cries of immorality.
None of the Oprah Winfrey Show could be immediately reached to comment on the volume of such voting and whether the votes would be disqualified if they were seen unfitted.
IOL sent an e-mail to the show through the mail posted on its Web site and waited for 24 hours for a feedback.
IOL only received an automated thank-you reply from the Web site, apologizing for not guaranteeing a personal response due to the volume of e-mail messages they receive every day.
The show has asked people to send stories of people who did something extraordinarily heroic for others, like a neighbor who risked his or her own life to rescue you from a dangerous situation or perhaps he or she witnessed an accident and were able to help keep the victims alive until help arrived.
The Oprah Winfrey Show (September 6, 1986 - present) is the longest-running daytime television talk show in the United States, and is hosted, produced and owned by Oprah Winfrey.
Winfrey is currently ranked as the most powerful celebrity by Forbes magazine as well as the ninth most powerful woman in the world.
(Got to Oprah's Do You Know a True Hero?)