Who is Pamela Geller?
Pamela Geller is the founder and editor of PamelaGeller.com, formerly AtlasShrugs.com, and the president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative. She was also a key figure with Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), an apparently defunct branch of Stop Islamization of Nations. Geller proclaims herself as the “foremost defender of the freedom of speech against attempts to force the West to accept Sharia blasphemy laws, and against Sharia self-censorship by Western media outlets.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center labeled Geller as “the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead.” Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative called Geller “one of the most prominent anti-Muslim and anti-Islam activists and bloggers in the U.S.” and stated she is “well connected with anti-Muslim individuals and organizations in the U.S. and around the world.”
Geller works closely with Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch.
In 2013, Geller was banned from entering the UK as Home Secretary Theresa May identified Stop Islamization of America “as an anti-Muslim hate group” and said Geller’s views are “not conducive to the public good.”
A 2022 CAIR report detailing nearly $106 million of philanthropic funding into anti-Muslim groups shows that philanthropic organizations gifted AFDI more than $110,000 in grants between 2017 and 2019. As past anti-Muslim hysteria recedes, American Freedom Defense Initiative appears to be losing steam. In a tax filing for 2021 the organization’s total revenue is listed as $69,570.
Following the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings, the AFDI unveiled an incredibly redundant and bizarre 18-point plan for “preserving and defending free societies.” In it, the AFDI calls for:
- “Profiling of Muslims at airports and in hiring in professions in which national security and public safety could be compromised.” [CAIR note: This would likely violate the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.]
- “[The] surveillance of mosques and regular inspections of mosques in the U.S. and other non-Muslim nations to look for pro-violence materials. [CAIR note: This could violate the First Amendment’s Free Exercise and Establishment clauses, the Fourth Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clause.]
- And for, “an immediate halt of immigration by Muslims into nations that do not currently have a Muslim majority population.” [CAIR note: This could violate the Equal Protection Clause.]
Geller launched AtlasShrugs.com, in homage to Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, and has since used the site, renamed pamelageller.com, to avidly spread her anti-Islam vitriol. She once posted, and later removed, a video implying that Muslims practiced bestiality with goats.
In 2007 Geller targeted a Muslim principal who started an Arabic-language public school in Brooklyn. Geller alleged Arabic-language instruction was a front for Islamist indoctrination and fought to get the principal removed.
In 2010, Geller denied the Srebrenica genocide of Bosnian Muslims, arguing its recognition is the result of Muslim pressures to create an Islamic state in Europe. In her own words: “what we are witnessing is an unprecedented, coerced mourning — of an enemy people.”
In the same year, PayPal notified Geller that Atlas Shrugs had violated its Acceptable Use Policy and would therefore no longer have access to its services. The policy states that “PayPal may not be used to send or receive payments for items that promote hate, violence, racial intolerance.”
In 2011, David Caton of the Florida Family Association launched a campaign to have companies pull their ads from TLC’s “All American Muslim.” Caton credited Pamela Geller amongst others for her support in FFA’s ‘All-American Muslim’ campaign.
Geller spearheaded the antagonism against thePark 51 mosque in New York in 2010. She wrote multiple posts in which she spread misinformation regarding the mosque and its Imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf.
Geller called Park 51 “the ground zero mega-mosque,” a “monster mosque,” and a “stab in the eye of America.” Going to absurd lengths, Geller proclaimed the founding of the mosque, “Islamic domination and expansionism.” She also falsely branded Rauf a “radical Islamist.” Her inflammatory rhetoric increased opposition to the mosque, drawing thousands of people to protest against its construction. A number of candidates running for office in the 2010 mid-term election took up Geller’s banner to denounce the Park 51 project. According to an ABC News and Washington Post poll, the portion of Americans with a favorable view of Islam reached its lowest point since 9/11 around the time of the Park 51 controversy — 37 percent.
To support her protests and demonstrations against Park 51, Geller invited the English Defence League to her September 2010 anti-mosque rally in New York. At the time, the EDL was a well-known anti-Muslim British group which staged frequent street protests, ostensibly against “militant Islam”. A Guardian investigative piece found “racism, violence and virulent Islamophobia” a hallmark of their demonstrations.
Geller said she, “share[s] the EDL’s goals.” She has also stated, “Anyone with an ounce of decency would stand with the EDL.”
Geller is also an avid supporter of Dutch anti-Muslim extremist Geert Wilders, whom she invited to speak at the June 2010 anti-mosque rally.
Further building links between European and American Islamophobia, Geller actively took part in an anti-Islam rally organized by the Swedish Defence League in 2012. In 2010, she spoke at a Paris event put on by the Bloc Identitaire, which opposes race-mixing and Islamic imperialism.
AFDI pursued an aggressive print media advocacy campaign with the goal of promoting anti-Muslim sentiment. In 2012, the organization placed inflammatory posters on subway lines in major cities such as New York, Washington D.C., and San Francisco, using provocative language that likened Muslims to savages: “in any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” David Yerushalmi’s American Freedom Law Center defended Geller and Spencer on a federal court case to overturn New York City MTA’s restriction on the Islamophobic advert.
As early as 2013, two years before then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed his Muslim Ban, AFDI advocated for “an immediate halt of immigration by Muslims into nations that do not currently have a Muslim majority population.”
In 2015, AFDI held an event in Garland, Texas, called the “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest,” featuring prizes for artistic depictions of the Islamic prophet. Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who shares AFDI’s anti-Muslim views, served as the keynote speaker.
AFDI appointed Nonie Darwish as its first fellow in 2015, absorbing her organization, Former Muslims United, under its wing. During a speech in 2011, Darwish asserted that “Islam should be fought and should be conquered and defeated and annihilated.” Darwish told the New York Times, “A mosque is not just a place for worship. It’s a place where war is started, where commandments to do jihad start, where incitements against non-Muslims occur. It’s a place where ammunition was stored.”
In 2018, the group released an Islamophobic film in an attempt to spread their message and increase their public influence. In 2019, the Supreme Court rejected the AFDI’s request to consider their case for displaying more anti-Muslim ads in the D.C. Metro system.
Geller on record:
- “The fact is that the quran is war propaganda, and you are the target.” On her blog, 2013.
- Geller attacked the Pope, saying “At a time when Christianity worldwide is under siege by Islamic jihadists, the leader of the Catholic Church claims that the quran teaches non-violence. As Christians across the Muslim world live in abject terror and fear kidnapping, rape and slaughter to the bloodcurdling cries of ‘Allahu akbar,’ the pope gives papal sanction to the savage.” On her blog, 2013.
- Geller ranted against a group of Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders in Denver who had launched a “Love Thy Neighbor” ad campaign. She called them “craven quisling crew,” “knaves,” “nudniks” and “clowns.” On her blog, 2012.
- After news emerged that U.S. Marines had urinated on corpses in Afghanistan, Geller stated, “I love these Marines. Perhaps this is the infidel interpretation of the Islamic ritual of washing and preparing the body for burial.” On her blog, 2012.
- “Asking for prayer space in public schools for Muslim children is imposing Islam. If the child is religious, send them to madrassa.” In a New York Times interview, 2010.
- Sharia law is “the most radical and intolerant system of governance on the face of the earth.” In her book, Stop Islamization of America, 2011.
- “Islam is not a race. This is an ideology. This is an extreme ideology, the most radical and extreme ideology on the face of the earth.” In an interview on Fox Business’ “Follow the Money,” 2011.
- “Hitler was inspired by Islam.” In an interview on the Alyona Show, 2010.
- Geller promoted a conspiracy theory alleging, Muslim groups “control information and how it is processed at senior levels of the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon, and the various branches of the military.” Her blog, 2010.
- “I don’t think that many westernized Muslims know when they pray five times a day that they’re cursing Christians and Jews five times a day. I don’t think they know that…I do not believe in the idea of a moderate Islam.” In a New York Times interview, 2010.
- “Now do I see everything through the prism of Israel? No, I don’t, but I do think it’s a very good guide. It’s a very good guide because, like I said, in the war between the civilized man and the savage, you side with the civilized man. … If you don’t lay down and die for Islamic supremacism, then you’re a racist anti-Muslim Islamophobic bigot. That’s what we’re really talking about.” In a New York Times interview, 2010.
- “Pious Muslims are jihadis.” On her blog, 2008.
Geller has gained traction and influence through her writings and public and media appearances which vilify Islam and dehumanize Muslims.
Geller’s phraseology, such as “Islamofacism,” has been adopted by individuals, including Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, and she has brought into the mainstream the idea that terrorist acts done by Muslims spring not from perversions of Islam but from the religion itself.
Charles Johnson, of the right-wing blog Little Green Footballs has said, “I think she’s enabling a real bigotry — a lot of people are convinced by the propaganda she repeats like a mantra.”
Despite Geller’s notoriety as an Islamophobe, she has enjoyed a close relationship with President Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton. Geller has maintained this rapport since Bolton’s time as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations during the Bush administration.
Geller’s views have directly influenced violent extremism in the U.S. and abroad.
In 2014, Robert James Talbot, Jr. was arrested in Texas on terrorism charges. His plotted to use C-4 explosives and weapons to kill police officers, rob banks and armored cars, and blow up government buildings and mosques. On the Facebook page he used to recruit individuals into his plan, he shared links to Geller’s site, seemingly inspired by her hateful rhetoric.
Anders Behring Breivik, the far-right terrorist responsible for the tragic killings of 77 people in Norway, cited Geller and her blog in his manifesto.
Geller defended Breivik’s actions, stating he “was targeting the future leaders of the party responsible for flooding Norway with Muslims.” Geller described Utøya island (one of the locations of the attack) as a summer camp indoctrination training center with a “pro-Islamic agenda.” She also posted a photo of the youth camp attendees and captioned it, “Note the faces which are more Middle [sic] Eastern or mixed than pure Norwegian.”
Juan Cole, a history professor at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor asserts that Pamela Geller (amongst others) influenced the views of American white supremacist terrorist Dylann Roof, who carried out the murders of nine church goers in a Charleston church in 2015.
Cole wrote in an article for The Nation that: “The trope that Europe is being overwhelmed by immigrants or the absurd charge that Muslims will shortly make up 50 percent of the continent’s 500 million residents is pushed by an elaborate and well-heeled Islamophobic network on both sides of the Atlantic, spearheaded by far-right neo-fascist parties such as Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France or the UKIP in Britain, and by professional stalkers of Western Muslims such as Geert Wilders. Among Wilders’s enthusiastic cheerleaders are Pamela Geller and Daniel Pipes.” Mentioning Geller as part of the Islamophobia network in the article, Cole determines that: “…this Islamophobic network appears to have contributed to some of Dylann Roof’s anxieties about the fate of white people in their supposed European homeland.”