IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Garland Shooting: 'Draw Muhammad' Contest Host Pamela Geller Wants More, Similar Events

Pamela Geller told NBC News that there "must be other events like" the 'Draw Muhammad' contest to stand up for free speech.
Get more newsLiveon

The host of the Texas "Draw Muhammad' contest that ended with police killing two armed gunman outside called for more, similar events as a defense of free speech.

Pamela Geller, executive director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, told NBC News that "we should be holding these meetings every month."

"We absolutely must have other events like this to stand up for free speech...," Geller said. "I will not abridge my freedoms so as not to offend savages."

Geller called the drawings of the Muslim prophet "political critique."

"I do believe western civilization is superior," she said

And she defended the views of Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who spoke at Sunday's event, saying he "shouldn't have to be worried about being slaughtered for his opinion."

"There is a problem in Islam," she said. "The problem is we can't talk about it."

Alia Salem, the executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said she fully supports the First Amendment, but “we must ask ourselves, at what point does free speech become hate speech?”

At a Monday afternoon news conference, Salem condemned the actions of the gunmen saying the attack was “not done in my name or in the name of millions of law abiding Muslims.”

She said the Muslim community in northern Texas had made a collective decision not to protest the "Draw Muhammad" event.

“We just didn’t want to give her the time of day. … We didn’t want her to get more publicity than really what she deserved,” said Khalid Y. Hamideh, an attorney who represents Muslim organizations in Texas.

“The actions of the criminals who tried to shoot up the place do not represent Islam or the prophet of Islam,” Hamideh said. “These fringe groups do not represent what this country stands for,” he said, referring to the American Freedom Defense Initiative and the gunmen.

Among the problems Geller cited was that the daily Muslim prayers curse Christians and Jews in Arabic.

Zead Ramadan, the chair of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called Geller's assertion "absolutely asinine."

He said the daily prayer, the Salat, calls for God to "bring peace upon and bless the children of Abraham," which, according to Biblical tradition, includes Christians and Jews.

He accused Geller of not translating but fabricating.

"She likes to cause chaos and hatred and have people die," Ramadan said. "She's hiding behind the skirts of our liberties.

"She lies and then says, 'I have the right to lie'"

Terming herself a "human rights activist," Geller blasted the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "radical leftist organization" that has never condemned a jihadist, genocidal group.

"That's just a lie," countered Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project, who said the organization has Been listing anti-Semitic and anti-gay mosques on its site since 2010.

And, Beirich said, the organization devoted an entire publication to studying American jihadis.

"We're equal opportunity," she said.


— with Elisha Fieldstadt