Thursday, April 22, 2010

Miami-Dade Bucks Islam Threat, Favors Religious Liberty

A public transit authority in Florida has reversed a decision to take down banner advertisements on buses that offer help to Muslims wanting to leave their faith. Activists are hailing the move as a victory for free speech and religious freedom.

-- From "Miami-Dade Transit to remove `offensive' Islamic bus ads" by Jaweed Kaleem, Miami Herald 4/16/10

The ads, which went up [April 13th] said "Fatwa on your head? Is your community or family threatening you?" and directed Muslims to a website encouraging them to leave Islam.

Robert Spencer, associate director of New York-based Stop the Islamization of America [SIOA], which purchased the ads for one-month as the first leg of a national campaign, said they were "offered in defense of religious liberty."

But on [April 15th], Miami-Dade Transit spokeswoman Karla Damian said that after reviewing the ads, the department decided they "may be offensive to Islam" and would remove them before the buses ran on [April 16th].

The South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations had critiqued the ads as promoting "bigotry" and making false statements about Islam.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Activists Claim Free Speech Victory As ‘Leaving Islam’ Ads Return to Buses" by Patrick Goodenough, International Editor 4/22/10

The decision [to put the ads back up] came after the group initiating the ad campaign threatened a lawsuit, claiming breach of contract and violation of First Amendment rights.

Not only will the ten originally planned ads appear on Miami-Dade Transit buses in coming days, but an additional 20 ads will be run at no extra cost.

It was confirmed in an agreement signed on Wednesday, according to lawyer David Yerushalmi, whose firm prepared a federal complaint together with the Thomas More Law Center.

Miami-Dade Transit did not respond to queries Wednesday.

The driving forces behind SIOA and a related group, the Freedom Defense Initiative, are Pamela Geller of the Atlas Shrugs Web site, and Jihad Watch director and author Robert Spencer.

When they launched the campaign last week, Geller and Spencer said it marked “the first time anyone has offered public help to those who are threatened under Islam’s apostasy law. In the Land of the Free, government and law enforcement should be on this. But they aren’t. So we are. It is time for free citizens to stand for freedom – or lose it.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.