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Pamela Geller Fights On For Detroit Anti-Islam Bus Advertisements

27 April 2011 General 12 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

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.

Late last month, in a blow to SMART, U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood granted a preliminary injunction in favor of the American Freedom Defense Initiative and ordered that SMART must carry the anti-Islam ads on their buses. Hood ruled that “there is a strong likelihood that Plaintiffs could succeed in demonstrating that Defendant’s decision not to run the advertisement was not reasonable, but rather arbitrary and capricious.”

Complicating the case, in March of 2010, SMART allowed billboard ads for an atheist organization, which read: “Don’t believe in God? You’re not alone.”

SMART alleged the difference between the atheist ad and Geller’s is that one is political, the other religious. But Hood criticized their ability to make those assessments, writing that while SMART asserts that their content policy is viewpoint neutral, it doesn’t delineate what “renders an advertisement as “purely religious,” as opposed to political or likely to hold up to scorn or ridicule any person or groups of persons, both of which are prohibited by Defendant SMART’s content restriction policy.”

Geller immediately resubmitted a request for the ads to run on the buses. On her website, she heralded the victory, writing that the injunction is a “huge win, not just for us, but for the First Amendment.” “This is a direct refutation to all those who claim I am a hater or that my lawyers are ‘haters’ for representing me,” she wrote.

But on Monday, the transit authority filed a notice of appeal, seeking a stay so that they may appeal. In a statement, SMART General Manager John Hertel said that customers who ride their buses should not have to be confronted with political messaging. “SMART service helps people in their daily lives by getting them to work, school and medical appointments,” he said, according to Crain’s Detroit Business. “We don’t think people who ride SMART and go about their daily life should be confronted with any political advertising at any time. Our primary purpose is to provide bus service, commercial advertising is incidental to that.”

Geller took to her website to attack the appeal.

“Despite the fact that we won and free speech prevailed, Detroit Transit is appealing the ruling. Your taxpayer dollars are being used to enforce the sharia. Ghastly.”

A hearing for the request to stay will be heard May 12.

Original post: Pamela Geller Fights On For Detroit Anti-Islam Bus Advertisements

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12 Comments »

  1. Poor Detroit! Don’t they have enough grief? Please let them concentrate on reducing unemployment and rebuilding a wonderful, vibrant city.

  2. hannah,

    what do you think??????

  3. hannah,

    re: imprisoning the brit for burning the koran

    “You see, Brits enjoy human rights and democratic freedoms just like Americans, but they don’t sacrifice justice and the greater social good for it. And the thing I also like about it is the way the law is applied fairly across the board no matter what the idealology of the bigoted perpetrator.
    I’m American by birth, but I lived in the UK for over twenty years, and I am often appalled by the way these sorts of situations-eg Terry Jones- are handled in this country in the name of “freedom of speech”.Brits are very tolerant of difference by and large, but they don’t put up with silly nonsense that puts individual exercise of freedoms above the greater social good and civil harmony. It’s a good balance.”

    //Halima

    also lawan (i guess i shouldn’t assume s/he is mulsim) said that the government should “subdue” terry jones. that’s kindof anti-freedom of speech, don’t you think.

  4. What a waste of skin! Of course she is preaching hatred of Islam. Yes, there a quite a few Muslims who kill in the name of their religion, but a body count would have to include the victims of Christians, Jews, Hindus, etc. as well. I think only the Tibetan Buddhists have clean hands, and I may be wrong on that.

  5. Pamela Geller is a bigot. She along with Debbie Schlussel are by far the most ugliest cretins lookin like wanna be females, on the face of this earth. First off they are both Zionists, Pro-Israel and very anti-Islam. I don’t understand why people even pay attention to this dog lookin piece of trash. Oh and look what a coincidence, Geller, A-hole Terry Jones, and those lunatic Christian missionaries whom are tryin to sue the City of Dearborn for kickin em outta the Arab Festival are all being represented by none other then the fraud Thomas More Law Center. The law firm which has been anti-Islam for more then 40 years now. I hope they lose all their cases. I plan on attending all of the hearings inshallah. Also, why didn’t they just call Islam hater herself Debbie Schlussel to represent them? Ummmm its because she SUCKS as a lawyer and she SUCKS at everything in life.

  6. It’s a fact that all the mainstream schools of Islamic Jurisprudence (Madhhabs) stipulate that male apostates from Islam are to be executed. Given that there have been recent incidents in the west where converts from Islam have been threatened and intimidates by fundamentalist Muslims, what’s wrong with offering these converts support?

  7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostasy_in_Islam

    Vigilantes have killed, beaten, and threatened converts in Pakistan, the Palestinian territories, Turkey, Nigeria, Somalia, and Kenya. In November 2005, Iranian convert Ghorban Tourani was stabbed to death by a group of fanatical Muslims. In December 2005, Nigerian pastor Zacheous Habu Bu Ngwenche was attacked for allegedly hiding a convert. In January 2006, in Turkey, Kamil Kiroglu was beaten unconscious and threatened with death if he refused to deny his Christian faith and return to Islam.[71] In a highly public case, the Malaysian Federal Court did not let Lina Joy convert to Christianity in a 2-1 decision.

  8. Hmmmm, another thing I think about so much sometimes my brain hurts. I know there are many places outside the US that appear to be anti free speech. This is a matter of religion. There are many countries, say China for example, that don’t have a Muslim majority or the greatest record in the free speech department. But I definitely agree that there are Muslims who are vehemently anti free speech in matters of religion. I don’t share your view that this a generally accepted Muslim view. For every one of the cases you have mentioned where a Muslim does something decidedly anti free speech, I guarantee there are a vastly larger group of Muslims shaking and hanging their heads in dismay.

    I believe in free speech. Meaning that I frame it the same way most Americans do. Free speech is a value in-and-of itself. I believe in the “marketplace of ideas” and that for every bigot or misinformer out there, there’s someone intelligent, peaceful and ready to combat falsehood with truth. In this sense I don’t fear people like Gellar or others who hate my religion. If I feared them and wanted to silence them, I’d be admitting that in some sense, I’m nervous that they might be right. However, in many other cultures and societies, including other Western ones (ie: Britain) free speech is looked at as more of a vehicle to other freedoms, but not really an essential right on its own. This is the sort of mentality Halima was referring too as is made clear by the end of her post “silly nonsense that puts individual exercise of freedoms above the greater social good and civil harmony.” Others don’t consider hate speech free speech. Free speech for whom? Not the people at which it’s directed. For those people this speech can have extremely steep costs. Although I think in the end Islam-bashers and this whole anti-Islam movement will fall into the same trashcan as the KKK (Pamela Gellar’s organization SIOA has already been added to a list of hate-groups) they are trying, and succeeding in some ways, to make it hard to be a Muslim in America.

    I say, bring it on. But I can certainly see where others are coming from. If you’ve ever been at the brunt of hate speech, it tends to make you a little more sensitive to things like this. Muslims in the US don’t control the messages being sent about us. The majority always controls these things. And since a very narrow and sensational version of events garners the most viewers/readers, Muslims are portrayed through a very slanted lens. It’s frustrating. When a white Christian does something wrong, people rarely blame this on the person’s religion/race, because they have a host of personal experiences and positive representations of this group in society that counters that one instance. Not that many Americans know a Muslim, or an Indonesian or an Iranian. So when something bad about these particular people is presented in the news (and it’s almost always bad) they have no frame of reference. This is why minorities get sick and tired of the singular, narrow presentation we get in the media. It makes it hard to be a human being, or at least to participate in society as one.

  9. Geller is an idiot and a frothing-at-the-mouth Islamophobe, but the objections to this specific ad are on pretty thin ice. You would have to argue that the text at the top of the ad about fatwas and threats from your family or community is “likely to hold up to scorn or ridicule a person or group of persons.” In fact, if you chop off those two questions and just keep it to “Leaving Islam? Got Questions? Get Answers!” it would be a slam-dunk case. Any arguments about inaccuracies, distortions, or even outright lies on the website itself, are almost entirely irrelevant. Unless the website is actively inciting violence and hatred — which, frankly, it isn’t — it has a fundamental right to spew its garbage.

  10. hannah,

    please whatever you do, do not retract from participating in society. i hope your voice is heard throughout america. it’s funny but i was thinkining today that i should have said, i also think that the europeans, canadians, (both great freinds to america) in fact the rest of the world to be anti free-speech. china and cuba are definately anti free-speech. i didn’t mean to imply that it was a trait exclusive to muslims.

    as for what appears to be your defence of halima, how does someone saying something impede your right to execise other freedoms? you agree with the supreme court that it is hate speech that needs to be protected? to say you can say anything you want, as long as i agree with it is pointless. i think we agree more than you think.

    it’s funny i had dinner with the tampa director of communications for cair a couple of weeks ago and he told me how he had been the first muslim to meet with terry jones, back when he put up his signs saying islam is of the devil. he said they talked for a while and after having asked jones to take down the signs, jones said no, so he left it at that. so i know not all muslims are violently against free speech. but i have to stand by earlier thought that of the 1.5 billion muslims in the world most are anti-free speech. wasn’t there a galluop poll on this website? i guess you have to buy it…..sorry the rays are on, meeting freinds for drinks

    Many British and French citizens agree. Gallup’s national representative polling in both countries shows that a majority of Britons (57%) and a plurality of the French (45%) say that newspapers printing a picture of the Prophet Muhammad should not be allowed under protection of free speech,

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/105700/islam-west-clash-coexistence.aspx

    keep on keeping on

  11. My comment was supposed to say this is NOT a matter of religion!**

  12. I just want to state I agree with Yazeed. Where do women who are ugly get off having any kind of opinion that makes the papers. Ugly women should just stay home where no one even cares if they are barefoot or not.
    The fact that OMG this ugly woman supports Israel proves that she is trash and should not be taken seriously. Let us face the facts; Bigots support Israel and are Anti Muslim while Progressive Thinkers support Muslims and spit upon the Zionist pigs that make up and support Israel. These people (bigots) make me sick and give me these incredible urges to attack their competence in all facets of their life including their chosen profession.
    I do want to state, however, that I shall rise above this and continue to write open minded progressive responses to articles in this publication. The next time an ugly dog faced woman makes the news I shall simply pretend she is a pretty blond and comfort myself with the knowledge that she just does not know any better. Hmmm that puts me in mind…I wonder what the Geller lady thinks about the issue of spanking?

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