The Florida Council on American-Islamic Relation's (CAIR) latest ad touting diversity in the workplace has been rejected by Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART), the public transportation body providing service to the Tampa, Florida, metropolitan area. The reason? The agency claims that the messaging promotes religion and, as The Tampa Tribune notes, bus ads that "primarily promote a religious faith or religious organization" are prohibited.
Before holding a vote, at least one board member noted that, regardless of the outcome, free speech issues would be raised. David Smith, an attorney for HART, said, "There's certainly a possibility you will have a First Amendment issue no matter which way you go, unfortunately."
In the end, the vote was 8-2 against the ads, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Keven Beckner and Fran Davin, members of the HART board, voted against rejecting the ad, claiming that there's nothing wrong with HART supporting diversity. Davin also called for clearer advertising policies -- something that may happen after the current regulations are reviewed.
The ad reads, "Embracing Diversity at Work, Defending Civil Rights in the Community." It features the CAIR logo along with eight individuals. The organization has said that four of those pictured are Muslims and that the group is comprised of CAIR staff members.
The Muslim advocacy organization is frustrated and disappointed by HART's refusal to allow the ad.
Photo Credit: CAIR Florida
"We hope their denial was based on misinformation and once that misinformation is cleared up they will allow our ads. Otherwise we will be forced to take legal action," Florida CAIR's executive director Hassan Shibly told the Times.
This is the latest development in the stand-off between HART and CAIR. Three months ago, the Muslim group asked the transit authority to post another ad that was part of the national "My Jihad" ad blitz (TheBlaze reported on this campaign in detail earlier this year). While these ads were successfully displayed in other cities, HART refused them in the Tampa area, claiming that they too fervently favored one religion over another.
After some back-and-forth, this latest proposed ad was a solution that Florida CAIR likely thought would be permissible, but, alas, the local transit authority still feels it is inappropriate on religious grounds.
"Obviously the question at its core is, is CAIR a religious organization? As I read this, the thing that is being promoted is CAIR," said board member John Melendez.
As noted, this is the latest issue with CAIR ads to arise following the "My Jihad" campaign, an effort to educate Americans about what the group believes is the real meaning of the word "jihad." You can read more about this campaign in TheBlaze's previous coverage.
(H/T: Tampa Bay Times)
Other Must-Read Stories:
- ‘Virgin Mary Should’ve Aborted’: Facebook Page Slams Religion, Calls the Bible ‘Horse Manure’ and Sparks Major Free-Speech Controversy
- ‘Piece of Sh** Should Die’: 10 of the Most Vile and Virulent Responses to President Bush’s Heart Surgery
- Army Chaplain Assistant Reportedly Threatened With Reduction in Pay and Rank Over Facebook Post Calling Homosexuality a Sin
- Shark Attack Victim Credits God Following Deadly Bite — But You Won’t Believe the Other Bizarre Things He’s Allegedly Survived
- ‘F**k You!’: Fiery Heckler Clashes With Anthony Weiner as Sparks — and Expletives — Fly