A Michigan man who was a former combat soldier during the Iraq war is suing after being denied a personalized license plate with the abbreviation of the word “infidel.”
Michael Matwyuk, a 57-year-old retired United States Army sergeant says the Michigan Department of State denied him a license plate with a short variation of the word because it could offend people, according to Fox News.
Matwyuk, however, is taking offense because he says it’s a violation of his First Amendment right and freedom of speech. The retired combat soldier filed the law suit against the state on Wednesday in Grand Rapids federal court with support from the American Civil Liberties Union, most commonly known as ACLU.
Matwyuk tried to order a plate that said “INFDL,” and when the state’s website denied it, he tried ordering the variation, “INF1DL.”
The state later sent him a letter stating that the plate “could not be issued because it might carry a connotation offensive to good taste or decency,” according to the lawsuit.
Matwyuk says soldiers were constantly called “infidels” or non-believers by enemies in Iraq.
“We embraced it, we joked about, we laughed about it, we called each other ‘infedil,’” Matwyuk told the Army Times. “We’re infidels, we’re absolutely that and we were there who did not subscribe to the doctrine or belief system [the enemy] was trying to impose. We don’t subscribe to terrorism, Shariah law and oppression. We are champions of freedom, and if that makes us infidels good for me and good for the rest of us.”
Fred Woodhams, spokesman for the Secretary of State said Michigan law can ban license plates that can be deemed as offensive.
Sources: Fox News, Army Times, American Civil Liberties Union