Arab Christian Group Claims First Amendment Rights Denied On Public Property

Arab Christian Group Claims First Amendment Rights Denied On Public Property

The leader of an Arab Christian evangelical group filed suit against the city of Dearborn, Mich., claiming the city violated his First Amendment right to distribute literature on public property.

The incident occurred last month at the city's annual Arab International Festival, an event that attracted 300,000 visitors and has provided a favorite evangelizing venue for the group, Arabic Christian Perspective, whose members have attended for the past five years.

George Saieg, Arabic Christian Perspective's founder, says trouble started when he called the Dearborn police to let them know his group would be returning to the festival.

City police told Saieg that, unlike in previous years, his group would not be allowed to distribute material on the sidewalks, and that Arabic Christian Perspective could either rent a stand at the festival or be assigned a specific location at which it could distribute its literature.

"I told him, we are between 70 to 90 people. We cannot be in one corner of the festival," Saieg told "But he did not give me any choice but that."

With the help of the Thomas More Law Center, a conservative Christian legal group, Saieg sought a temporary injunction to stop the city from preventing his group from distributing materials on the sidewalk. But the petition was denied, and the group was permitted to distribute literature only at one location within the festival.

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