Conservative activist Pamela Geller says the first amendment protects her right to run anti-Islam advertisements on Detroit buses. The local transit authority disagrees. Cue a year-long battle over free speech, with the ball now (temporarily) back in the hands of the bus company.
The saga of the bus banner ads began last May when Geller’s group, American Freedom Defense Initiative, submitted a request to the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) in Detroit to run a banner ad on their vehicles offering support for Muslims seeking to leave Islam.
The banner ad reads: “Fatwa on your head? Is your family or community threatening you? Leaving Islam? Got questions? Get answers! RefugeFromIslam.com.” Visitors to the website are told not to tell friends or family about their plans to leave the faith and suggests they may be killed. “If you are thinking of leaving Islam, be wary, be careful,” it reads. “The Qur’an commands your death for leaving Islam… and Muhammad is explicit in a hadith: “If anyone changes his religion, kill him.”
While Geller has described the ads as a resource for Muslims, opponents criticize them as a little more than a vehicle for depicting Islam as a violent religion. The ads faced similar controversy when introduced to New York City and Miami.
SMART rejected Geller’s request on grounds that the bus company bars advertisements that are political in nature, or that are “likely to hold up to scorn or ridicule any person or group of persons.”
In response, Geller associate David Yerushalmi and the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) filed a lawsuit against SMART on behalf of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, seeking to reverse the bus authority’s refusal to display the ads.
Continue reading: Pamela Geller Fights On For Detroit Anti-Islam Bus Advertisements