Especially when the government is kowtowing to Islamic supremacists who, by opposing our bus ads, are effectively opposing religious liberty.
A relatively even-handed article about our lawsuit against Detroit: “Legal Battle Brews Over Ban on ‘Anti-Islam’ Bus Ads,” by Mara Gay for AOL News, June 23:
(June 23) — While a controversial ad campaign targeting Muslims is getting a cold shoulder in Detroit, its ads may soon be appearing on the side of Motown buses anyway.
A conservative legal group has asked a federal judge to force a Michigan bus company to run ads that offer support to Muslims who want to leave their religion, saying the ads are protected under the First Amendment.
“Fatwa on your head?” one of the slogans reads. “Is your family or community threatening you? Leaving Islam? Got questions? Get answers!”
The “Leave Islam Safely” ad campaign is paid for by the Freedom Defense Initiative, an anti-jihadist group co-founded by Pamela Geller, a New York woman who is also working to stop a controversial mosque from being built near New York’s ground zero.
A controversial ad campaign in Detroit encouraging Muslims to leave their religion is being defended by a conservative legal group, who are asking a federal judge to force a bus company to run the ads, arguing their protection under the First Amendment.
The ads aren’t new: They raised eyebrows when they ran earlier this year in New York. And in Miami, they were removed from buses after local Muslim leaders called them a “smoke screen for hatred,” although a court ordered the ads reinstated.
But in metropolitan Detroit, which has a large Muslim population, the campaign has yet to get off the ground. Regional bus company SMART simply refused outright to run the ads.
“The only city so far that has dug their heels in is Detroit,” said Robert Muise, a lawyer at the Thomas More Law Center in Michigan, the conservative legal group representing the Freedom Defense Initiative.
Muise has filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against SMART, arguing that freedom of speech gives the Freedom Defense Initiative the “right to engage in religious and political speech in a public forum.”
And Geller isn’t taking no for an answer. In a phone interview with AOL News today, she said she is determined to see the ads on Detroit buses.
“There’s no question that I’m going to win this and those ads are going to run,” she said.
Geller said the campaign is not anti-Islam but meant to offer support to people who want to leave the faith. “There are very few resources available to them, and their lives are threatened — not just by their families but by their mosques and communities,” she said.
Raheem Hanifa of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said that kind of sentiment is offensive. “The ads presuppose that Muslims are violent and irrational. That’s just not the case,” he told AOL News. “This is just another instance of fear-mongering and hate-mongering.”
Tell it to Rifqa Bary, Mr. Hanifa.
However, SMART recently allowed an atheist ad to appear on its buses. “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone,” it read.
That means the bus company will have a hard time standing its ground, according to Don Herzog, a law professor at the University of Michigan and a constitutional scholar.
“It’s a disaster when the government starts picking and choosing viewpoints,” he told AOL News. “That’s a First Amendment nightmare.”
Geller told AOL News she’s getting ready to launch the ad campaign in another major city, but would not say where.
“I believe I’m fighting for Muslims here,” she said. “I have no problem with Muslims. I do have a problem with the violent ideology that inspires jihad.”…