Today, the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) for refusing to run a “Support Free Speech” advertisement that depicted the winning entry of the “Draw Mohammad Contest” recently held in Garland, Texas. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of the advertisement’s sponsors, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and its co-founders, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.
On May 20, 2015, Geller submitted the advertisement to WMATA’s advertising agent for display on WMATA’s buses and dioramas. Geller stated that they “wish to submit the following ad to run on 20 Washington DC buses and 5 DC Dioramas including Foggy Bottom, Capitol South, Bethesda, L’Enfant Plaza, Shady Grove and Union Station (if available).” The proposed ad appears as follows:
Geller’s advertisement makes the point that the First Amendment will not yield to Sharia-adherent Islamists who want to enforce so-called blasphemy laws here in the United States, whether through threats of violence or through the actions of complicit government officials.
David Yerushalmi, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, commented,
“We apparently don’t need ISIS to destroy our freedoms; Washington bureaucrats are doing the job for them. Unfortunately, we have come to the point in our history where we fear engaging in speech that might upset the Sharia-adherent followers of Islam. As a consequence, government officials now allow Islamic jihadists to veto our speech. That is un-American, and it is unconstitutional. It will not stand on our watch.”
Robert Muise, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, added,
“This case is important not only from a legal perspective but from the perspective of who we are as Americans. Are we going to allow violent Islamists to dictate what we can and cannot say in public? If so, then we have already lost this so-called war on terror.”