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.”

 


US lawsuit against Qatari emir’s brother to be re-filed in Massachusetts court

Updated 28 January 2020

US lawsuit against Qatari emir’s brother to be re-filed in Massachusetts court

  • The move was intended to force Sheikh Khaled, who had been avoiding being served, to acknowledge and accept legal service
  • Two former contractors alleged they were denied wages and threatened by Sheikh Khaled after they refused his orders to kill two people

The attorney for two former contractors suing Sheikh Khaled Al-Thani, the brother of the Emir of Qatar, has asked a Florida Federal Court judge to dismiss their lawsuit so they can re-file the claims before a different Federal court in Massachusetts.

The former contractors alleged they were denied wages and threatened by Sheikh Khaled after they refused his orders to kill two people. The original lawsuit had Sheikh Khaled as the principle defendant but on Nov. 5, 2019 it was expanded to include race car company Al-Anabi Racing USA LLC, which Sheikh Khaled owns.

The move was intended to force Sheikh Khaled, who had been avoiding being served, to acknowledge and accept legal service.

Failing to serve a defendant or a defendant’s business assets can result in the lawsuit being thrown out by a judge in the American judicial system.

The expansion of the lawsuit worked. After ignoring the lawsuit for more than seven months, lawyers for both Sheikh Khaled and Al-Anabi Racing USA LLC, filed responses. They asked the Federal Court on Jan. 2 this year to dismiss the Pittard/Allende lawsuit, arguing Florida lacked Federal jurisdiction over the case.

According to Bloomberg Markets, Al-Anabi Racing USA LLC, is based in Duxbury, Massachusetts, although it has an office in Florida.

“After the Pittard case complaint was amended, several individuals bravely stepped forward to share their stories and experiences with the defendants in the Pittard case,” said Rebecca Castaneda, the attorney for security professional Matthew Pittard and paramedic Matthew Allende, who are seeking $33 million in damages.

“In light of the information that they have provided, and the new plaintiffs’ claims and causes of actions against the defendants and others, we have requested that the Pittard case be dismissed from the Middle District of Florida.

“The cases of Matthew Pittard and Matthew Allende will be supplemented with additional legal claims and information that has been obtained and re-filed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the District of Massachusetts.”

Sheikh Khaled’s attorney, Alejandro Soto, of the Florida law firm Fridman Fels and Soto, PLLC, argued in their motion to dismiss in January that Sheikh Khaled had no legal presence in Florida and that Florida’s Federal courts had no jurisdiction over his actions.

“While the amended complaint invokes Florida law, it otherwise fails to allege any facts supporting Sheikh Khaled’s contacts with the state,” Soto said in his Jan. 2 dismissal demand.

“By all accounts — including plaintiffs’— Sheikh Khaled is a citizen of the state of Qatar whose domicile and primary residence — both during the time period alleged in the amended complaint and now — have always been in Qatar.

“Moreover, the amended complaint does not allege a single fact suggesting that any of the alleged conduct giving rise to this case occurred in or arose from Sheikh Khaled’s contacts with Florida. Indeed, the only alleged connection that Florida has with this case is plaintiff Matthew Pittard’s alleged residence in it.”

Attorneys for Al-Anabi Racing LLC, Armando Rosquete and Javier A. Reyes of the Bell Rosquete Reyes Esteban, PLLC law firm, argued that Sheikh Khaled was not employed by Al-Anabi Racing USA LLC and claimed Florida lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.

“Contrary to this settled jurisdictional jurisprudence, plaintiffs failed to plead any facts to establish personal jurisdiction or even provide a factual framework under which this court could analyse personal jurisdiction,” Reyes and Rosquete said in their Jan. 2 dismissal demand.

“Indeed, other than an unsupported conclusory allegation in a single paragraph, plaintiffs include no jurisdictional facts that connect Al-Anabi to Florida. Plaintiffs do not allege that they were injured in Florida, nor do they allege any facts regarding Al-Anabi’s contacts with the state.

“The amended complaint is devoid of facts that could — even when analysed in the light most favorable to plaintiffs — show that the purported injury or other conduct alleged even occurred in Florida,” Reyes and Rosquete added.

Attorneys Reyes, Rosquete and Soto all failed to respond to repeated inquiries for comment on their dismissal filings.

Pittard and Allende alleged in the lawsuit, originally filed on July 23, 2019 before Federal Judge Thomas P. Barber, that Sheikh Khaled ordered them to kill two individuals who posted negative and embarrassing comments about the sheikh on social media.

According to Castaneda, Sheikh Khaled ordered the killing of a Los Angeles-based drug dealer who was trying to blackmail the sheikh with claims he had compromising photos and videos of the sheikh.

“We don’t know the veracity of the drug dealer’s claims, but the sheikh took them seriously and he wanted Pittard and Allende to kill the blackmailer,” Castaneda said.

In another case, Castaneda said Sheikh Khaled allegedly ordered the two security contractors to murder a Moroccan woman who was a friend of the sheikh’s wife. Castaneda said Sheikh Khaled feared the woman was feeding embarrassing information about him to a Saudi national at a time when his brother, Emir Al-Thani, and Qatar were in an international row with Saudi Arabia and three other Arab countries.

Pittard and Allende allege they were threatened at gunpoint by an angry Sheikh Khaled when they refused his orders in September 2017 to murder the two individuals he suspected had sullied his social reputation. The lawsuit claims Sheikh Khaled's threats against Pittard and Allende continued to escalate.