Michigan court rules Christians can distribute literature at Arab festival
The Court of Appeals overthrew a lower court decision and allowed a Christian pastor to distribute spiritual materials at the perimeter of the Arab-American festival in Dearborn, Mich.
The three-judge panel on the Sixth Circuit allowed Pastor George Saieg from California to distribute literature that seeks to convert Muslims during the three-day festival, the Free Press said.
The Appeals Court decision reverses that of a federal judge of Detroit, who said it would be permissible to restrain Saieg as a way to control the traffic of pedestrians during the festival, the AP said.
Saieg said he wanted to patrol the festival because he feared that some people in attendance would be afraid to approach him if he were confined to a booth or could only distribute flyers near his booth, the AP said.
The festival is among the largest for Arab Americans. Its purpose is to celebrate Arabic culture and it features Arabic entertainment, shopping and food among others, the Heritage Newspapers said.
For children there is face painting, crafts and performances by caricature artists. There is a robust community of Arabs in the location site of the festival, the Heritage Newspapers said.
Tensions between Christian missionaries and Arab Americans has been ongoing with one Christian group saying last year that they were bothered by festival security, and some Arab-Americans saying they were harassed by some Christian missionaries, the Free Press said.
An attorney for Saieg said the CA decision was a victory for the First Amendment and also protected the Christians’ right to free speech, the Free Press said.