Somehow we missed this one from a couple weeks ago, but George Saieg recently won an appellate court decision regarding his free-speech rights and mistreatment by the city of Dearborn, Michigan, which had barred the Anaheim evangelist from passing out pamphlets urging Muslims to convert to Christianity during a 2010 Arab-American festival.
A 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled 2-1 that the restriction was unreasonable, especially since the Warren Avenue fest organizers had given Saieg a booth but barred the evangelist and his followers from a public sidewalk filled with other vendors and festival-goers.
Dearborn and its police department "violated Saieg's First Amendment right to freedom of speech," according to justices Eric Clay and Karen Nelson Moore. "Absent an injunction, Saieg will continue to suffer irreparable injury for which there is no adequate remedy at law."
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The court stepped in to assert the evangelist's rights on the eve of the June 17-19 festival, which Saieg has vowed to attend. It's the second time justices have intervened on behalf of Saieg, who Dearborn jettisoned to the festival's perimeter after the first ruling in the evangelist's favor.
According to Saieg's weblog, he was born and raised in Sudan, which gave him a lifelong perspective on Islam. He writes he had "a vision" in a Southern California parking lot in 2001 of a tent overflowing with Muslims who needed to hear "the truth" about Jesus Christ. Saieg says he asked the owner of the lot if he could hold a book fair there. Instead, he was offered space for a permanent Arab Christian bookstore.
After the 9/11 attacks, Saieg says, he was compelled "to expose Islam's deceptive teachings and mobilize American Christians to action." He founded his Arabic Christian Perspective ministry in Anaheim shortly thereafter. In 2006, Saieg was ordained as a Calvary Chapel pastor.
While he's no doubt cheering the court victory, a black lining does accompany this silver cloud: Also attending this year's Dearborn festival will be Koran-torcher Terry Jones. Oh well, at least Saieg knows he won't be perceived as the craziest Christian there.