The Thomas More Law Center, a conservative legal group, filed a motion for a temporary restraining order on Thursday that asks a federal judge to side with a New Hampshire-based group that often criticizes Islam. The Thomas More center had filed a lawsuit against SMART last month on behalf of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, Pamela Geller of New York and Robert Spencer of New Hampshire. The plaintiffs are critics of Islamic extremism.
"Fatwa on your head? Is your family or community threatening you? Leaving Islam? Got questions? Get Answers!"
As pointed out over at Michigan Messenger, because SMART has, in the past, run ads saying "Don't Believe in God? You are not alone", it's quite likely that they will be forced to run these ads on their city-owned buses. Since they serve the Dearborn area which has a large population of Islamic residents, the ads are sure to rub many the wrong way. They seem aimed at anti-Islam provocation rather than a public service.
The Detroit Free Press article quotes a local Muslim leader:
"They surely have the prerogative to deny carrying anti-Muslim ads in a locality which has one of the largest Muslim populations in North America," said Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Similar ads have run in buses in New York City and have caused big-time controversy there, as well. The organization running claims they are not anti-Islam:
Pamela Geller, who leads an organization called Stop Islamization of America, said the ads were meant to help provide resources for Muslims who are fearful of leaving the faith.
"It's not offensive to Muslims, it's religious freedom," she said. "It's not targeted at practicing Muslims. It doesn't say 'leave,' it says 'leaving' with a question mark."
Geller said the ad buy cost about $8,000, contributed by the readers of her blog, Atlas Shrugs, and other websites. Similar ads have run on buses in Miami, and she said ad buys were planned for other cities.
In Miami, Miami-Dade Transit pulled the ads after complaints from the Muslim community but then restored them in even greater numbers after they were threatened with a lawsuit.
I'm trying to imagine a similar ad campaign aimed at Jews. Or Christians.
Imagine the outrage.
I'm just sayin'...
*It's OK if you're an anti-Islamic racist.
UPDATE: I want to be clear. I don't think the ads should be banned. I simply wish to call BULLSHIT! on the idea that this is some benevolent effort. The ads are sponsored by a group formed by Pam Geller who has a long history of hatred of Muslims.
I also believe that if this type of ad was run against Judaism or Christianity, there'd be hell to pay.
That said, our 1st Amendment is sacrosanct and I don't begrudge them their right to run their hateful, inflammatory ads. I just want to be sure everything is out in the open about who this group is. Pam Geller is pissed about pro-Islam ads that have been displayed and she's fighting back with these. Keep in mind, her group is called "Stop Islamization of America".
From a Cybercast News Service piece (which I won't link to), here is Pam Geller:
For months, banners ran on buses in several parts of the country – including Florida’s Dade and Broward counties – describing Islam as "The way of life of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, & Muhammad" (in line with the Islamic precept that all major biblical figures were Muslim prophets.)
The dawah ads directed inquiring non-Muslims to a toll-free phone number and to a Web site where they were invited to convert to Islam. This site also offers welcome packages, a mentoring system, classes and conferences.
After Miami-Dade Transit pulled the "Leaving Islam" ads, Geller wrote, "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. Still think this is a free country?"
One other point: I understand that there are some seriously extreme Muslims out there who threaten other Muslims attempting to leave the faith or the specific mosque, they are far from a significant percentage of Muslims in this country. Judging all Muslims by their actions is akin to judging all Christians by the Hutaree militants who are currently in jail facing sedition charges. And, while we're on the topic, they are going to STAY IN JAIL until their trial thanks to a court ruling yesterday saying they are a threat to society. Amen to that, brothers and sisters.