- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) will begin advertising on public buses in Tampa, Fla., in a sharp turnaround by the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit board of directors Monday night.

The unanimous decision comes just one month after members rejected the plan in a 8-2 vote, citing promotion of religion as a concern, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

CAIR said in an appeal that the ads are aimed at crushing stereotypes of Islam and for defending civil liberties for Muslims.

Its ad features a photograph of eight people and the CAIR Florida logo, with the message: “Embracing Diversity at Work, Defending Civil Rights in The Community,” the Tampa Bay Times reported.

“The general focus and thrust of our work is civil rights defense. We serve primarily the Muslim community because that is our donor base,” said CAIR Florida spokeswoman Samantha Bowden. “But we also serve non-Muslim clients.”

Some board members said the ads were initially rejected because of the vagueness of HART’s advertising policy, which makes it difficult to discern between religious and civil rights organizations, said board member Mike Suarez, according to the report.

“I think we all agree the policy itself was unintentionally vague,” he said.

CAIR Florida’s Tampa executive director Hassan Shibly said his group is finalizing the ad design and hopes to have it on public transit soon.

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