Last year, the group Stop Islamization of America paid for bus ads in places like New York City and San Francisco encouraging people to leave Islam. They also told them where to find more information about leaving the faith and getting support.
When the same ads were to go up in Detroit, they were rejected.
The ad reads:
Fatwa on your head?
Is your family or community threatening you?
Got questions? Get answers!”
“It’s a purely anti-Muslim hate issue,” Dawud Walid of the Council on American-Islamic Relations told the Detroit News on Friday.
“The SMART bus company, or any bus company, should not be used to marginalize a minority group.”
Walid is wrong about that. This is not anti-Muslim at all.
This is anti-Islam. And there’s a very important distinction between the two.
(Actually, I’ll correct myself. It’s not even anti-Islam. It’s only calling out to people who are leaving Islam and letting them know they’re not alone and there is support available for them.)
I would oppose an anti-Muslim ad, but I fully support alternatives-to-Islam ads.
There’s no reason an inoffensive ad like that should be rejected in Detroit. And if this ad was rejected, what will become of atheist ads encouraging people to leave their religion?
But all of that was last year. Why do I bring it up now?
The Detroit Free Press reports that the judge who has to decide whether the ads can go up isn’t even looking at the issue anymore:
Freedom Defense Initiative is asking federal Judge Denise Page Hood to get moving. It’s been seven months since she heard arguments.
[Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation] marketing manager Beth Gibbons says the ad was rejected because it held a “group of persons up to scorn or ridicule.”
First of all, no group of persons is being scorned or ridiculed. All ideas — including religious ones — ought to be subject to scrutiny and criticism.
There’s also no reason it should take seven months to decide something that should really take all of seven seconds. If pro-religious ads are allowed in the SMART system, then anti-religious ads must be allowed as well.
I have no doubt that a similar-looking ad reading “Considering Islam?” would have been perfectly fine. So what’s wrong with this one?
(Thanks to Larry for the link!)