PJ Media

Free Speech 1, CAIR 0: RefugeFromIslam.com Ads Going Back Up in FL

CAIR has finally lost a battle.

And the freedom of speech has won one, which is especially good news after the South Park debacle. The Hamas-tied, unindicted co-conspirators of the Council on American-Islamic Relations had already declared victory in their campaign against free speech, after they intimidated Miami-Dade Transit into taking pro-religious liberty advertisements off Miami buses because they offended Muslims.

The ads were mine. They were the initiative of Stop Islamization of America and the Freedom Defense Initiative, the new organization I have begun with bestselling author and Jihad Watch director Robert Spencer. Our ad asked a series of questions:

Fatwa on your head? Is your family or community threatening you? Leaving Islam? Got questions? Get answers! RefugefromIslam.com.

This was the first time anyone offered public help to people threatened under Islam’s death penalty for apostasy. Government and law enforcement should be working to protect apostates from Islam, but they aren’t. So we are. If we don’t stand for freedom, we will certainly lose it. And Miami-Dade Transit’s kowtowing to CAIR, even though it ultimately reversed itself, shows how close we are to losing it.

CAIR got the ads taken down, saying that they were bigoted. But they celebrated too soon. Their anti-free speech campaign ran into an obstacle called the First Amendment.

On April 13 our ads began running on Miami buses. On Friday, April 16, after CAIR complained, Miami-Dade Transit pulled our ads. The reason? Karla Damian, a spokesperson for Transit, said they might be “offensive to Islam.”

It was an outrageous denial of our free speech rights, and a stunning capitulation to Sharia. Even worse, it was a blatantly inconsistent application of Miami-Dade Transit’s policies: CAIR and other Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups ran campaigns on buses across the country last year, including Miami, inviting people to convert to Islam and claiming that Abraham, Moses, and Jesus were Muslim prophets. Miami-Dade Transit allowed the CAIR bus ads, despite how offensive they were to Jews and Christians.

In December 2008, the Miami Herald ran a glowing piece on the CAIR bus ad campaign, which ran in Miami-Dade and Broward counties for eight weeks. No one took offense, despite the Islamic supremacist nature of the ads. No one breathed a word of protest.

It was important to counterbalance this offensive appropriation of the founding figures of Judaism and Christianity and outright deception with a healthy message. But although Miami-Dade Transit had no trouble with CAIR’s offensive message, they found our defense of religious freedom unacceptable.

Miami-Dade Transit was bowing to Sharia — Islamic law — which forbids non-Muslims to insult Islam. But CAIR didn’t win this time: after our excellent lawyer, David Yerushalmi, and his associate, Robert Muise of the Thomas More Law Center, threatened a lawsuit for breach of contract and infringement of our First Amendment rights, Miami-Dade Transit agreed to restore our ads.

In tacit recognition of their wrongdoing, they also agreed to add the ads to twenty new buses at a very steep discount.

Freedom of religion is an unalienable right. Sharia law should hold no weight or legitimacy here. Muslims should be free in America to leave Islam without fear if they so choose, and be who and whatever they want to be.

But Miami-Dade Transit thought otherwise. It took the threat of a lawsuit to keep them from submitting to Sharia. It seems that 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?

Still think we enjoy the protection of the First Amendment on speech that offends the powerful? Think again, because the obstacles our campaign faced didn’t start with Miami. At least three of the bus companies that ran CAIR’s dawah (invitation to Islam) bus ads turned down our ad.

Public authorities like Miami-Dade Transit and other transit authorities in other cities must not give way to Hamas-tied CAIR and accept Islamic rules restricting speech.

But Miami was just a test case. I am proud to announce that Robert Spencer and I are taking our “Leaving Islam” campaign nationwide. Now we are trying to raise money for ads — and lawyers — all over the country.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. Free speech and religious liberty must be defended in the United States. And our bus ads in Miami, which are going back on the buses May 3, show that the Islamic supremacist enemies of free speech can be beaten.