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Jalil MashaliADF International

ESSEN, Germany (LifeSiteNews) — A German taxi driver and Christian convert from Islam has been fined over a Bible quote sticker on his car’s rear window due to what his city refers to as unlawful “religious advertising.”

Jalil Mashali was threatened with a fine of up to 1,000 euros in October due to a small sticker on his taxi car that displays a cross and reads, “Jesus – I am the way. The truth. And the life,” Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International reported. The city of Essen argues that the sticker violates an ordinance applying to taxis that prohibits “religious advertising.”

The Christian convert refused to remove the sticker, and city authorities are now demanding a fine of 88.50 euros. 

Mashali is challenging the fine with the backing of ADF International. He argues that “due to the content, location, and small size of the sticker,” it does not constitute advertising.

“Jesus is the best thing I could recommend to anyone because He changed my life. That’s why I have the sticker on my car for anyone who is interested to see,” said Mashali in a statement shared by ADF International. 

“I’m not looking to cause trouble, but I haven’t done anything wrong. I am grateful for this country where everyone should be free to share their faith. I hope to be able to continue to do so by appealing the unjust fine,” Mashali added. 

Dr. Lidia Rieder, Legal Officer for ADF International, has said that the fine imposed on Mashali violates a basic right to “freedom of religion.”

“In a free society, the government should not be silencing peaceful expressions of faith. Jalil’s actions are protected by the basic human right to freedom of religion, which includes the right to share one’s deeply held convictions with others. The state must refrain from unjustly interfering with this freedom,” stated Rieder.

Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled in 1998 that political and religious advertising on taxis is prohibited, according to Radio Essen, which reported that the city said this is meant to prevent disruptions to taxi traffic due to potential disputes.

In the worst case scenario, Mashali could lose his taxi driver’s license. A spokeswoman for the city of Essen told the German radio station that legal exemptions for this scenario can be made on a case-by-case basis, but that this is unlikely in Mashali’s case due to a “tense global political situation.”    

There is freedom of expression in Germany, so I don’t see why I should remove the saying,” Mashali told Radio Essen. “In Iran, they might have imprisoned or killed me for it. But I live here in Germany.”

Mashali, who has lived in Germany for 22 years, was born and raised a “devout” Muslim in Iran, shared ADF International.

Since he lost the lower part of his left leg in a traffic accident at the age of 13, Mashali began to wear a prosthesis, and suffered from chronic pain. Even after 20 surgeries, the pain remained severe enough to drive Mashali to contemplate suicide while at a hospital. 

When a Christian woman offered to pray with him there, he was reportedly “skeptical,” but accepted her offer. He says the pain in his leg completely left after her prayer, and he was inspired to begin reading the Bible, finding his way to Christianity.

The freedom of religious expression is increasingly under threat in Western countries like Canada, where a bill has been introduced that would remove religious exemptions from “hate crime” charges on the grounds that someone “expresses… by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text.”

A number of Canadian pastors have already faced “hate crime” charges for their public witness against sexual immorality and child sexualization, including Pastor Derek Reimer and Pastor David Lynn.