Rep. Peter King, who has been criticized himself for hearings on the threat of Islamic terrorism, says "Draw Muhammad" organizer Pamela Geller went too far with her event because it was insulting to all Muslims and put people's lives at risk needlessly.
"She has the right to do what she did. Just because you have the right to do it doesn’t mean you should do it," the New York Republican said Wednesday on John Gambling's radio show on AM 970 in New York.
"We want to insult and attack and ridicule Islamist terrorism, and that’s fine. That makes sense," King said. "But to go after a religion in this way, you’re just inviting trouble and there’s no reason. It's one thing to be courageous if you’re doing it for a valid cause, but for the cause of doing a cartoon of Muhammad to me … you’re putting people’s lives at risk for no good reason."
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Two Americans sympathetic to the Islamic State (ISIS) showed up with assault rifles just before the conference closed on Sunday, but were shot dead by a police officer after they wounded a security guard in the leg.
Geller's event was billed as a defense of free speech —
Islamic extremists insist on enforcing Islamic rules against portraying the religion's founder visually. But Geller's event has received mixed reaction even from those on the right.
In a microcosm of conservative sentiment on the issue, Fox News hosts Bill O'Reilly and Greta Van Susteren
have taken King's position that she was needlessly provocative and endangered the lives of participants and police. Fox hosts Megyn Kelly
and Sean Hannity have been supportive of Geller.
King told AM 970 that Geller has been critical of him in the past for, in her estimation, not going far enough against radical Islam. Still, he said, she invited him to speak at one of her events. He declined.
King said there was no reason to insult all Muslims, many of whom are allies in the fight against extremism.
"I was offended as a Catholic when they had the crucifix in the jar of urine, when you had dung on the portrait of the blessed Virgin Mary," he said. "Obviously, we don’t resort to violence, but to me that’s insulting someone’s religion."
King said he isn't saying anyone should back down, but added that anyone engaging in such a serious fight should have an endgame and a purpose.
"Here, to be drawing cartoons and then run the risk of people being killed, you know, what? What have we gained by that?" he said. "And if that officer who put two bullets in their head —
talk about being an expert shot —
if he didn’t do that … you and I could be talking about 150 people being massacred."
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