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Monday, April 26, 2010

Controversial Muslim Bus Ads Put Back up, Freedom of Speech Activity

Original article here.

Controversial anti-Muslim ads to be reinstalled on Miami-Dade buses

Ten controversial advertisements by an anti-Muslim group that were removed from Miami-Dade Transit buses after the department received complaints will go back up.

The ads, which a transit official said were pulled last week because they ``may be offensive,'' have the message ``Fatwa on your head? Is your community or family threatening you? Leaving Islam? Got questions? Get answers!'' and direct Muslims to a website urging them to leave the ``falsity of Islam.''

Transit spokesman Clinton Forbes said that, after reviewing the ads with the Miami-Dade County Attorney's office, the county decided that, ``although they may be considered offensive by some, they do not fall under the general guidelines that would warrant their removal.'' He added the county ``is not endorsing the message being presented.''

The ads, purchased by New York-based Stop the Islamization of America, will be reinstalled May 3, said Pamela Geller, the organization's director. Geller said CBS Outdoor, which contracts ad sales for county buses, will also run 20 additional ads.

``It was a violation of free speech that they were removed. Whether you like it or not, all ideas should be presented. It is dangerous not for all but some to leave Islam in America. This is a victory for free speech and religious liberty,'' Geller said.

Muhammed Malik, director of the South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic relations, which had praised the ads' removal, said it will now use them ``as an opportunity to spark discussion about what Islam is really about.''

``Freedom and liberty are buzzwords they use as a smoke screen for their hatred,'' he said.

The religion-themed ads are not the first to cause a tussle. Last summer, a South Florida group's pro-atheism billboard in Fort Lauderdale sparked protest by Christians from nearby churches. In 2008, the Council on American-Islamic relations sponsored ads on 120 Miami-Dade and Broward buses that said ``Why Islam? Got Questions? Get Answers!'' and caused controversy because they called Islam ``the way of life of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.''
Both ads were allowed to stay up.

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