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Full Appeals Court Will Rehear Bible Believers, Arab Festival Case

DEARBORN (WWJ/AP) - A federal appeals court has agreed to take another look at a First Amendment claim made by Christian evangelists who were told to leave an Arab-American street festival or be ticketed by police in Dearborn.

It's rare for the full appeals court to rehear a case -- appeals are handled by three-judge panels -- but the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has set aside a 2-1 decision from August. In that opinion, a panel said sheriff's deputies didn't violate the free speech rights of a group called Bible Believers.

Bible Believers, in their own words, are "an unincorporated association of individuals who desire to share and express their Christian faith with others, including Muslims, through various activities, including street preaching and displaying signs, banners, and t-shirts with Christian messages and Scripture quotes."

In 2012, members of the group were pelted with rocks while carrying a pig's head and telling Dearborn Muslims at the Arab International Festival they would "burn in hell." Instead of offering aid, the group says police officers threatened to ticket them if they didn't leave the festival.

Wayne County authorities say they threatened to ticket the evangelists because they were concerned about safety.

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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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