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Judge paves way for 'leaving Islam'

A federal judge in Michigan has ordered a Detroit-area transportation authority  to allow, for the time being, display of paid advertisements on buses that offer help for those wanting to leave Islam.

As WND reported, the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, or SMART, had permitted an ad from an atheist and humanist organization touting “Don’t believe in God? You’re not alone” but had refused to sell advertising space for the message “Fatwa on your head? Is your family or community threatening you? Leaving Islam? Got questions? Get answers!”

The ads direct people to a website, RefugeFromIslam.com.

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Ads initially rejected by Detroit’s Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation

But with the help of the Thomas More Law Center, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of the ad’s sponsors. The lawsuit asked the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan Southern Division, to issue a preliminary injunction to permit the ad to run pending the final outcome of the litigation.

Earlier this week, Judge Denise Page Hood granted the injunction, clearing the way for the ads to begin appearing on Detroit-area buses.

TMLC Senior Trial Counsel Rob Muise commented, “In this environment of political correctness, it is encouraging to see decisions such as this one that uphold our basic constitutional freedoms.”

The ad was sponsored by the Freedom Defensive Initiative, or FDI, through the work of Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs and Robert Spencer of JihadWatch.

Richard Thompson, president of TMLC, commented, “Senior Trial Lawyer Rob Muise and David Yerushalmi have successfully represented FDI in several cases. Judge Hood’s instant decision represents a victory for free speech, but the battle is not over. Other battles loom on the horizon.”

WND reported a similar case in which the Miami-Dade Transit pulled down similar ads on its buses because of complaints from activist Muslims.

The Miami ads, however, which are also the work of Geller and Spencer, were restored later.

Thompson earlier said about the Detroit dispute, “Muslim apologists rely on the fact that most Americans are ill-informed about Islam. So they easily get away with portraying Islam as a religion of peace.

“Americans have a right to know the truth – Islam is a religion of intolerance and violence. Traditional Islamic law prescribes the penalty of death if a Muslim leaves his or her religion,” Thompson said.

And when a city authority rejects ads offering help to Muslims while accepting those promoting atheism, Thompson’s organization argued in court documents, it violates the free speech and equal protection clauses of the Constitution.

Pro-Islam bus ads

In the Florida dispute, the ads already had appeared on the Miami-Dade buses when officials with the South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations pressured the transit authority to pull them.

A protest to the county attorney’s office resulted in an agreement the ads should not have been pulled and a promise of fulfillment of the original contract.

Pro-Islamic ads have appeared on buses in other cities declaring Islam is “submission to God” and “the way of life of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, & Muhammad.”

Spencer cited the different standards.

“So Muslims can run bus ads all across America inviting the clueless to convert to Islam, but we cannot make information available to Muslims who want to leave Islam,” Spencer wrote of the original dispute in Florida.

On his JihadWatch website, Spencer responded to a comment that the ads be “toned down.”

“What is offensive about our ad? What is wrong with its tone? Apostates are threatened and killed all over the world. We offered them help. What would you suggest we tone down? What would you suggest we not say in order to please them? Why must we always play this game, instead of speaking the truth without fear? There is nothing objectively wrong or offensive about our ad. You’re falling into their trap, allowing them to define what is offensive and what isn’t. I refuse to do so,” he said.

“And even if our ad were offensive to someone, so what? I am offended by all sorts of things. I wouldn’t dream of trying to get them suppressed because they offend me, and no one would take me seriously if I did. But Muslims are already a de facto privileged class, even in America – if I’m offended, no one gives two hoots and no one should, but if Muslims are offended, watch out! Heaven and earth will move!”