Court rules against Dearborn in leaflet case

May 26, 2011

A federal court says Dearborn should not have prevented a Christian evangelist from handing out leaflets at an Arab-American festival last year.

The court ruled that the city of Dearborn violated the First Amendment rights of George Saieg of California at last summer’s event.

Saieg wanted to distribute leaflets encouraging Muslims to convert to Christianity.

Jack O’Reilly is Dearborn’s mayor.

He says the court made its decision because the Arab-American Festival does not charge an entry fee, and is not restricted to just festivalgoers.

"Because people are coming to the site, walking on the sidewalks and going into businesses without intent to visit the festival, it does not allow us to infringe leafleting," O'Reilly says.

He says the city offered Saieg a booth at the festival, but Saieg preferred to approach people individually.

This year’s Arab-American Festival will be held June 17 through 19.