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SMART Wins Appeal In Dispute Over Muslim Ads

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - A group offering to help Muslims who want to leave their religion has lost a key court ruling in a dispute over ads on Detroit-area buses.

In 2011, a judge said a bus agency known as SMART likely violated the group’s free-speech rights by rejecting the ads.

A federal appeals court on Thursday erased the injunction, saying SMART’s ad restrictions are reasonable and don’t violate the First Amendment.

The proposed ads said, in part,”Fatwa on your head? Leaving Islam? Got questions? Get answers!”

The appeals court says the ads are political and are covered by SMART’s ban on political, non-commercial messages. SMART has defended the policy, saying it doesn’t want to offend riders and lose business.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative last year argued SMART was being inconsistent because buses have carried ads promoting atheism.

SMART serves riders in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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