US & Canada

Pamela Geller: America's 'bigoted blogger'?

Pamela Geller (03 May 2015)
Image caption The strident views of Ms Geller have in recent years attracted more media attention

From an unknown blogger in the months following the 9/11 attacks, Pamela Geller has become one of the most outspoken US critics of Islam.

She is the co-founder of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), which she says was formed to stop the "Islamisation of America" and "creeping sharia" in her country. AFDI is listed as an anti-Muslim group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group.

A flamboyant rhetorical style on social media, in which she is not afraid to be provocative and offensive, has recently powered Pamela Geller's rise.

In May 2015, Ms Geller played a key role in organising a conference on cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a suburb of Dallas, where two gunmen were shot dead after opening fire outside the venue.

In typically emotive language after the attack, she defended the decision to stage the exhibition.

"The idea we are going to bridge our freedom, our most basic inalienable right in order to not offend savages, is egregious, it is outrageous," she told Fox News.

'Sky rocketing'

In April 2015, the AFDI was also in the headlines when it arranged for a controversial advertisement - which referred to Muslims killing Jews - to be displayed on New York's buses.

Image caption The May 2015 event in Dallas is one of several such gatherings organised by Ms Geller

A former financial analyst, Ms Geller was described by the New York Times as "sky-rocketing to national prominence" in 2010 as a firebrand blogger vehemently opposed to plans to build a Muslim community centre close to the World Trade Center.

She has been denounced by critics as a "bigoted blogger", reportedly has no formal journalistic qualifications and operates outside traditional Washington power centres.

Ms Geller insists that she is not against Islam in general - only radical Islam.

However, expressing views that even her supporters have criticised as being excessive, she has, for instance, been quoted as describing the faith as a "genocidal ideology".

She has equally strong views on numerous other issues - calling over the last decade for the removal of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem where Islamic tradition says the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven, and an end to President Barack Obama's healthcare reforms which she described as an "act of national rape".

In favour of abortion and same-sex marriages on the one hand, she is an enthusiastic supporter of right-wing small government - including cutting taxes and reducing budgets - on the other.

Born in 1958 - the third youngest of four girls - Ms Geller dropped out of university and worked on the business desk of the New York Daily News throughout the 1980s, proceeding to become associate publisher at the New York Observer.

She began blogging after 9/11, almost immediately focussing on various contentious issues but with Islam as her principal target.

In 2006, one of the websites she formed took the decision to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad which had earlier been printed in a Danish newspaper, sparking widespread protests in several countries.

A little while afterwards, Ms Geller attended a "counter-jihad" conference in Brussels and developed links with various anti-Islamic Europeans including the English Defence League, which opposes the construction of mosques in Britain.

While critics argue that she is guilty of spreading fear of Islam, her supporters say that she is prepared to say things other commentators on social media too easily shy away from.

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