Pamela Geller: Purveyor of anti-Muslim prejudice

Pamela Geller, who promotes herself as a 'a wonderful fighter for liberty,' was tagged as one of those behind the report — proved to be false — that US President Barack Obama was not born in America. (Supplied photo)
Updated 24 November 2019

Pamela Geller: Purveyor of anti-Muslim prejudice

  • US-based activist achieved notoriety with outrageous conspiracy theories and denunciations of Islam and Muslim immigrants
  • Aside from co-founding anti-Islamic groups, Geller has been associated with various acts of hate speech targeted at Muslims over the past decade

DUBAI: A once unknown former financial analyst and associate publisher, Pamela Geller was one of the most vocal critics of Islam following the 9/11 attacks, becoming infamous for her extremist anti-Muslim views and activism.

In 2010, Geller co-founded the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), which she said was formed to stop the “Islamization of America” and “creeping Sharia” in the US. An international Jewish non-governmental organization known as the Anti-Defamation League and the civil rights group Southern Poverty Law Center described AFDI as exhibiting anti-Muslim bigotry.

Aside from co-founding anti-Islamic groups, Geller has been associated with various acts of hate speech targeted at Muslims over the past decade.

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Dr. Deniz Gokalp, associate professor of social sciences at the American University in Dubai, says Geller is someone who intentionally incites hatred toward Muslims.

“Her hatred toward Muslims and hate speech targeting Islam should be dealt with by democratic strategies to marginalize and delegitimize her as a public figure,” Gokalp told Arab News.

Geller first gained attention in 2006, two years after starting her blog called “Atlas Shrugs,” when she reprinted the controversial cartoons of Prophet Muhammad that were originally published in the Danish Jyllands-Posten newspaper, which triggered off protests across the Islamic world.

A year later, she attended a “counter-jihad” conference in Brussels — a self-titled political current with a belief that the Western world is being subjected to an invasion by Muslims.


BIO

Nationality: American

• Place of residence: Long Island, New York

Occupation: Political activist; blogger and commentator; executive director of Stop Islamization of Nations

Medium: Blog, Atlas Shrugs; interviews; podcasts; YouTube; column in Breitbart News

 

 


Geller stirred further controversy in 2010 when she led a campaign against plans to build a Muslim community center close to the World Trade Center that she referred to as the “Ground Zero Mega Mosque.” She claimed that it would have been viewed by Muslims as a “triumphal” monument built on “conquered land.”

Three years later, Geller faced criticism yet again over controversial anti-Muslim ads posted on public transport in New York. Prompted by an ad critical of Israel on the subway, Geller said that she was exercising her freedom of speech by showing a picture of the burning World Trade Center with a quote from the Qur’an.

Professor Gokalp says that although hate speech cannot be and should not be banned or criminalized, it can have a negative impact on society if it becomes mainstream. “In the specific case of the US, hate speech can have quite a detrimental impact on society leading to hate crime and violence against Muslims given the current state of political affairs,” she said.

Gokalp said free speech, including hate speech, is necessary for a healthy society to listen to and be aware of the dominant discourses and to become proactive, but that it becomes detrimental when “political institutions provide impunity for hate crimes.”

In 2015, Geller’s organization, the AFDI, grabbed headlines when it announced that it would pay for an anti-Muslim advert to be printed on New York buses. The ad showed a man with his face covered alongside the text “Killing Jews is worship that brings us closer to Allah.”

Below this text, the advert read: “That’s his jihad. What’s yours?”

That same year, Geller also helped to organize a “Draw the Prophet” cartoon contest on May 3, 2015, at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas, where the winner received a $10,000 prize.

US President Donald Trump also criticized her: “What is she doing drawing (Prophet) Mohammad? And it looks like she’s actually taunting people — and it’s disgusting that it happened.”




Pamela Geller's book Fatwa.

Her supporters say she is prepared to say things others shy away from. Critics argue that she is guilty of spreading fear of Islam.

Although she insists that she is not against Islam in general, only radical Islam, she has been quoted as describing Islam as a “genocidal ideology.”

She has repeatedly on live television news channels such as CNN, Fox News and Russia Today to accuse Islam of being a religion of violence that has inspired Hitler and to claim that “Muslim immigration means more Islamic terrorism.”

In response to Geller’s controversial and extremist activism against Muslims, the British government barred her entry into the UK in 2013, saying that her presence would “not be conducive to the public good.”

Geller, who is of American nationality and resides in Long Island, New York, lived a relatively quiet life before shooting to fame.

After Geller married Michael Oshry in 1990, she spent most of her time as a “well-to-do Long Island housewife” until her divorce in 2007. She received almost $4 million in her divorce settlement as well as $5 million in life insurance payments after the death of her former husband.

These funds contributed to her campaigns and supported her anti-liberal push on social media.

Other examples of her anti-Islamic activity include her teaming up in 2010 with another anti-Islamic extremist, Robert Spencer, to take over the “Stop Islamization of America” organization — an offshoot of the much weaker Denmark-based “Stop Islamization of Europe.”

Geller said that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were one of the main triggers for her embracing anti-Muslim ideology. She says she launched the “Atlas Shrugs” website —  where she denounced Islam at every opportunity —  “in honor of right-wing hero and self-described Objectivist author Ayn Rand.”

Geller has defended Slobodan Milosevic, the Yugoslav president who went on trial for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo between 1991 and 1999, before he died in March 2006.

She denies the mass killing of Bosnian Muslims during the 1991-1999 war in the former Yugoslavia by ethnic Serb nationalists, calling it “the Srebrenica genocide myth.” As for the 1999 NATO intervention in Kosovo, she said it was conducted “to pave the way for an Islamic state in the heart of Europe – Kosovo.”

Geller mingles with notorious far-right extremists and white nationalists across the world. She has been invited to give lectures by the German far-right organization Pro Koln and the British anti-Muslim group English Defense League (EDL). She is also a fan of Geert Wilders, the Dutch anti-Muslim politician.

Geller was cited in Norwegian far-right extremist Anders Breivik’s manifesto that was posted online before he killed eight people with a bomb and then gunned down 69 others - many of them teenagers - at a summer youth camp in 2011.

In an apparently sympathetic post, Geller wrote that Breivik “was targeting the future leaders of the party responsible for flooding Norway with Muslims.”

 


UK relatives of Daesh ‘Beatles’ victims relieved as trial nears

Updated 23 September 2020

UK relatives of Daesh ‘Beatles’ victims relieved as trial nears

  • The evidence regarding El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey was transferred to Washington immediately after Tuesday’s court ruling
  • The pair, who have been stripped of UK citizenship, are in the custody of US forces in Iraq

LONDON: Relatives of two Britons killed by a Daesh cell on Wednesday welcomed a breakthrough that advances the US trial of two Londoners accused of their brutal deaths.
The families of Alan Henning and David Haines said a ruling by the London High Court permitting the UK government to share evidence with US authorities about the suspects was a “huge result for us.”
“We have only ever wanted to see these two men being held accountable and brought to justice through a fair trial for their alleged actions,” they said in a statement released by the charity Hostage International.
The evidence regarding El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey was transferred to Washington immediately after Tuesday’s court ruling.
The pair, who have been stripped of UK citizenship, are in the custody of US forces in Iraq.
Kotey and Elsheikh’s four-member cell was dubbed “the Beatles” by their captives due to their English accents. They are accused of torturing and killing victims, including by beheading, and Daesh released videos of the deaths for propaganda purposes.
A two-year legal impasse concerning the suspects was broken last month when Attorney General Bill Barr said they would be spared execution if convicted after trial in the United States.
The United States wants to try them for the murder of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and aid worker Peter Kassig, during 2014-2015.
Taxi driver Henning and former aircraft engineer Haines, who had both gone to Syria to do aid work, were beheaded in 2014.
Another of the cell’s alleged victims was British photojournalist John Cantlie, who was kidnapped in Syria in 2012 and remains missing.
Cantlie’s sister Jessica Pocock told of the relatives’ intense frustration at the long legal wait.
“At times we felt absolutely desperate as to whether the legal system was ever going to be able to bring these two to justice — wherever they may be,” she told BBC radio.
“That was always terribly important to us to have a proper, fair trial. The families need nothing less than a fair trial,” she said.
The US Department of Justice welcomed the court ruling and expressed gratitude to Britain for transferring the evidence, although a trial date has yet to be set.