Advertising on taxpayer-funded transit has become the latest free speech battleground — and the cause of freedom has just won a significant victory.
The Hamas-tied unindicted co-conspirator Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) tried to defeat free speech in Miami, with the lapdog media on its side, and was just handed a major defeat.
The case revolves around two bus ads, one promoting Islam (Islam — Got Questions? Get Answers) and ours (Leaving Islam? Got Questions? Get Answers). Go here to see both ads.
Stop Islamization Of America and the Freedom Defense Initiative, the new organization I have begun with Jihad Watch Director Robert Spencer, began our pro-freedom Leaving Islam ad campaign on Miami buses last Tuesday.
But on Friday, after CAIR complained, Miami-Dade Transit pulled the ads, despite the fact that they ran the pro-Muslim ad last year with no problem.
The media was shilling for CAIR from the beginning. Jaweed “JD” Kaleem, a reporter for the Miami Herald, contacted me the day after our ads began running.
Our ad campaign was the first time anyone offered public help to people threatened under Islam’s death penalty for apostasy.
Kaleem was the only mainstream media reporter who contacted me. After I sent him some information via e-mail, I spoke with him on the phone and supplied him with information he requested, including where the buses would be running.
Significantly, he never asked me why we were running the ads in the first place.
Kaleem’s story appeared on Friday, headlined, “Miami-Dade Transit to remove ‘offensive’ Islamic bus ads.” His story was all about how Miami-Dade Transit decided to infringe upon our freedom of speech rights, breach its contract, and pull our ads.
Kaleem quoted Miami-Dade Transit spokeswoman Karla Damian that the ads “may be offensive to Islam” and would be removed from the buses before they began their Friday routes.
Kaleem also quoted my associate Robert Spencer, whom he incorrectly identified as the head of SIOA, saying that the ads were “offered in defense of religious liberty.” But he included no statement from me at all, despite the fact that as executive director of SIOA, the bus ad campaign was my initiative.
He got the statement from Spencer before the ads were pulled. Kaleem made no attempt to contact anyone from my organization to get a statement on Miami-Dade Transit’s pulling of the ads.
He didn’t even ask for our response to this flagrant breach of contract and violation of free speech.
Further, he included in his article, unchallenged, remarks by a spokesman for CAIR without so much as mentioning who and what they are.
Kaleem wrote: “The South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations had critiqued the ads as promoting ‘bigotry’ and making false statements about Islam. ‘Islam guarantees freedom to and freedom from religion. . . . [We] reject as un-Islamic any extremist interpretation that sanctions the killing of any individual because she decided to ‘leave Islam,’ said director Muhammed Malik.”
If Kaleem had asked me about this, which he did not, I would have told him that Muhammed Malik lied. If what he said were true, the Leaving Islam bus ads would run with no problem.
One only needs to read the works of the most reliable witnesses: former Muslims living in America such as Wafa Sultan, Ibn Warraq, and Nonie Darwish.
I would also have told Jaweed Kaleem about the thousands of dead apostates, and about a fatwa recently issued by Al-Azhar University, the leading Islamic university in the world, that amounted to a death warrant on apostates.
The Al-Azhar fatwa committee wrote about a man who had converted out of Islam to Christianity: “Since he left the Islam, he will be invited to express his regret. If he does not regret, he will be killed pertaining to rights and obligations of the Islamic law.”
The most glaring proof of the danger to Muslims who leave Islam is the very public persecution of the teenage Christian convert Rifqa Bary, who fled from her family in fear for her life after converting from Islam to Christianity, and later received public death threats on Facebook.
Muslim apostates have recently been murdered in Bangladesh, Chad, Somalia, and threatened in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, and Nigeria as well as in Australia, Britain, and the United States.
So why was CAIR saying my ads were promoting bigotry, and the Miami Herald was printing this charge without qualification? My “crime” was responding to the inquiries from desperate Muslims seeking sanctuary from the dangers of leaving Islam.
SIOA and FDI are human rights organizations seeking religious freedom, individual rights protections and free speech.
Ultimately free speech won out: After we threatened a lawsuit, Miami-Dade Transit agreed to restore our ads and add them to 20 new buses at the cost merely of printing the new posters.
Our lawyer, David Yerushalmi, did a superb job, with the aid of the Thomas More Law Center’s Robert Muise.
And probably soon you will be able to read about how terrible CAIR thinks this is, courtesy of Jaweed Kaleem and The Miami Herald.
Or will they bother to tell the truth this time?
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