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Pamela Geller: Posting Muhammad Cartoon Winner Is Free Speech

Image: Pamela Geller: Posting Muhammad Cartoon Winner Is Free Speech
American Freedom Defense Initiative leader Pamela Geller. (Mike Stone/Reuters)

By    |   Wednesday, 27 May 2015 02:46 PM

American Freedom Defense Initiative leader Pamela Geller wants to post the winning entry from the Garland, Texas, Muhammad cartoon contest on the side of buses in Washington, D.C., saying that doing so is a way of expressing freedom of speech, but opponents say putting the cartoon in public is an example of hate speech.

Geller, in an opinion piece for Breitbart on Tuesday, said her organization wants the American people to "see what the cowardly press is censoring in accordance with the blasphemy laws under the Sharia (Islamic law)."

The group's ad campaign has been submitted to the Washington Mass Transit Authority to put on buses and train dioramas in the Foggy Bottom, Capitol South, Bethesda, L’Enfant Plaza, and Shady Grove stations, said Geller.

The AFDI has run other controversial ads on mass transit systems across the country, including in Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, and in 2012 ran a poster that was deemed offensive to Muslims on the D.C. Metro system, reports Washington's NBC affiliate Channel 4.

Geller's group was also in the news recently when the New York City mass transit system
voted to ban all political ads on the city's subways and buses, after AFDI's legal battle to put ads saying "Hamas Killing Jews" on the city's buses.

"Drawing Muhammad is not illegal under American law, but only under Islamic law," Geller insisted in the Breitbart piece. "Violence that arises over the cartoons is solely the responsibility of the Islamic jihadists who perpetrate it. Either America will stand now against attempts to suppress the freedom of speech by violence, or will submit and give the violent the signal that we can be silenced by threats and murder."

Earlier this month, gunmen linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) were killed after opening fire at the event in Garland, Texas, which featured the cartoon contest.

Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad are considered offensive in Islam, and Western art that portrays the prophet has angered Muslims and provoked threats and attacks from extremists.

Ahead of the event, Dallas Muslims had circulated messages on social media urging each other to ignore the event and not give the organizer any attention.

"It was the jihadis, not I, who made the cartoons a flashpoint," Geller said in her Breitbart piece. "If we surrender on that point and stop drawing Muhammad, we’ve established a precedent of surrendering to violent Sharia enforcement, and once established, we will be made to reinforce it again and again. Islamist government is a unique threat to free speech and liberty."

The advertising plans also led to yet another argument between Geller and Fox News correspondent Juan Williams, with both appearing on Tuesday night's Sean Hannity show to discuss the plans for the ads.

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"I think Miss Geller is doing it intentionally to provoke a controversy," Williams, who argued publicly with Geller earlier this month, said Tuesday. "There’s no ban on it by the authorities here in Washington, D.C., or New York, where Miss Geller has done it before."

Geller accused Williams of being one of the "fierce bullies" who "want to impose the Sharia."

"And, frankly, talk about offensive. You say you wouldn’t get on an airplane with Muslims wearing Islamic garb," she told Williams "That’s offensive to me. I would never say such a thing. And for you to try to recover, on my back, is reprehensible."

Williams did not say he wouldn't get on a plane with Muslims, but he was let go from NPR in 2010 after saying he would be nervous seeing people in Muslim garb on a plane.

"I’m a huge free speech advocate," Williams told her, "But what I see you doing, I think, is trying to provoke, unnecessarily, controversy and at times, offending and demeaning Muslims who regard your actions as not only provocative but offensive."

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American Freedom Defense Initiative leader Pamela Geller wants to post the winning entry from the Garland, Texas, Muhammad cartoon contest on the side of buses in Washington, D.C.
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2015-46-27
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 02:46 PM
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