The U. S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that Sudanese Christian Pastor George Saieg has a free speech right to distribute religious literature on public sidewalks and evangelize Muslims during the Annual Arab International Festival held each year in Dearborn, Michigan.
For five years Saieg, who specifically ministers to Muslims, had been discussing his Christian faith and passing out literature on Dearborn’s sidewalks during the Festival without encountering any problems. Nevertheless, in 2009 police officials informed him he had to remain in a booth, prohibiting him from distributing his literature on the nearby sidewalks and public streets.
Dearborn is one of the most densely populated Muslim communities in the United States. It has the largest Mosque in North America. In the past few years Dearborn has gained national attention for taking a pro-Muslim stance and for the arrest and intimidation of Christian evangelists for engaging in protected speech activity.
The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national conservative Christian public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of Pastor Saieg in 2009, naming the City of Dearborn and its police chief, Ronald Haddad, as defendants. The case was handled by TMLC Senior Trial Counsel Rob Muise.
In ruling for Saieg, the court recognized the problem Saieg had with booth-based evangelizing: “the penalty of leaving Islam according to Islamic books is death, ” which makes Muslims reluctant to approach a booth that is publically “labeled as … Christian.”
Source: Thomas More Law Center, May 25, 2011.