Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Gunmen shot dead at Texan “Draw Mohammad” Contest: Background and Comment.

with 24 comments

Garland shooting: Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest organisers condemn attack as ‘war on free speech’ after police kill two gunmen.


Two gunmen have been shot dead in Texas after attacking an anti-Islamic event exhibiting cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed, in what the organiser has called an act of “war on free speech”.

Extra security including SWAT teams had been posted to the event at a school building in the city of Garland, and the event had faced criticism for being openly inflammatory and anti-Islamic.

Police said the incident at around 7pm on Sunday evening lasted “seconds”. Two suspects drove up to the building as the event was ending, got out and open fire with automatic rifles on an unarmed member of the security staff.

The event was organised by Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defence Initiative (AFDI) – which has been described as a hate group by civil rights advocates and has previously sponsored anti-Islamic advertising campaigns across the country.

Organisers themselves linked the event heavily to the Charlie Hebdo magazine shootings, when gunmen killed 12 people in Paris over satirical cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohamed. The venue for Sunday’s event was chosen, Geller said, because it was where American Muslim leaders held a conference on combating Islamophobia a week after the Paris attacks.

Background (Guardian)

“The co-founder of the group behind the contest to award $10,000 for the best cartoon depiction of Muhammad is a New Yorker who runs a blog that campaigns to stop the “Islamification” of America.

Pamela Geller used her blog Atlas Shrugs to declare “this is war” in the hours after the shooting of two gunmen at the contest. The event had been organised by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a group she set up with Robert Spencer in 2010.

Geller, the winner of numerous awards from far-right organisations such as the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is credited with coining the term “ground zero mega mosque” as part of highly publicised campaign against the development of a community centre, which included a mosque, a few blocks from where the twin towers once stood in New York.

She became politically active after 11 September and has told various newspapers she had never heard of Osama Bin Laden until the day of the attacks but started educating herself as a housewife living in Long Island raising four children. She eventually started a blog, Atlas Shrugs.

A prolific poster – the blog usually has between 10 and 15 posts per day – Geller took to it soon after two armed gunmen were shot outside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas on Sunday.

“This is a war. This is war on free speech. What are we going to do? Are we going to surrender to these monsters? Two men with rifles and backpacks attacked police outside our event. A cop was shot; his injuries are not life-threatening, thank Gd. Please keep him in your prayers,” she posted.

“The bomb squad has been called to the event site to investigate a backpack left at the event site. The war is here.”

The American Freedom Defense Initiative is listed under its other name Stop Islamization of America as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre. It has previously gained publicity for funding advertisements which the group says are to encourage people who want to leave Islam but feel unsafe doing so. The group has had to fight for the right to run some of the advertisements, which refer to Muslims killing Jews, in court.

Dutch anti-Islam activist, Geert Wilders, was due to speak at the event on Sunday and has previously worked with Geller and Spencer. In 2009 they hosted a talk by Wilders at the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference. Wilders ca

Posting on her blog ahead of the event, Gellers criticised media coverage that referred to the event as anti-Islam.

“How is free speech an attack on Islam? And why are they portrayed as the victim when we are the victims of supremacism and jihad?” she wrote.

In another post after the shootings, Geller accused the Daily Mail of being cowards for blurring out the face in cartoons depicting Muhammad.

“The cowardice of the ‘enemedia’ has reached monstrous proportions. They will stop at nothing to appease bloodthirsty jihad terrorists. They are not journalists. They are water-carriers for the forces of oppression, hatred, and forcible censorship,” she wrote.

Geller lives in New York after receiving almost US$10m from the combination of her divorce settlement in 2007 and the life insurance policy of her ex-husband, Michael Oshry, who died in 2008.

She is credited with helping start the Obama birther movement, which questioned if Barack Obama was really an American, after she posted a theory from a reader that Obama was the love child of Malcolm X.

Geller has repeatedly said she is not anti-Muslim but does not believe moderate Islam can exist.

‘They say I’m anti-Muslim. I’m not anti-Muslim. I don’t see how anyone could say I’m anti-Muslim. I love Muslims,” she told the New York Village Voice in 2012.

Atlas Shurgs, a reference to one of Geller’s heroes Ayn Rand, was one of the blogs referenced in the online manifesto of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik. He feared a Muslim takeover and shot and killed 77 people in Norway in 2011, 69 of whom were part of the Workers’ Youth League (AUF) summer camp on the island of Utøya.

You can make up your own minds on how offensive the Blog and Exhibition are at LIVESTREAM: AFDI/Jihad Watch Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest.

In our opinion nothing whatsoever can justify this attack.

In this respect, and this respect alone, we do not care that the people mounting this exhibition are from the right-wing, or that we loathe the rest of their unsavoury opinions.

Indeed anybody who names a Blog afte one of the most wooden and arrogant novels by Ayn Rand gets our everlasting contempt (and pity).

But it is wrong, wrong, wrong, to attempt the slaughter of them for their unfunny ‘cartoon’ show.

We sincerely hope that there will be no ignoble attempts to find excuses for those who wished to commit murder.





24 Responses

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  1. Geller & Co have got exactly what they wanted: a violent response by Islamist hot-heads. Success! Trebles all round! They would have been really miffed had their event been ignored. The anti-Islam brigade and the jihadists feed off each other, each wants to ramp up distrust and hostility between Muslims and the rest of the world, each thrives on provocations that are intended to encourage Muslims to rally behind the jihadists, each side wants a religious war. Geller & Co are no friends of those wishing to see a secular society; they are as much our enemy as the jihadists.

    Dr Paul

    May 4, 2015 at 12:36 pm

  2. Is the right to free speech always our top priority? In this case we’re dealing with two brands of reactionary politics, both wanting a religious war. But what if we had a similar sort of case where someone with whom we would be sympathetic carried out an act that might be construed as being against free speech?

    What if back in Weimar Germany a Jewish lad set fire to the Der Stürmer office and shot Julius Streicher into the bargain?

    What if in the late 1960s, a group of Jamaican immigrants disrupted a meeting at which Enoch Powell was the prize speaker and gave him a whacking?

    What if a Somali former refugee who’d succeeded in crossing the Mediterranean in a flimsy dingy grabbed Katie Hopkins by the throat and threatened to kill her were she to write another piece describing refugees as ‘cockroaches’?

    All would be disrupting someone’s right of free speech with threats of violence or actual violence. Surely the most we’d say would be to advise that such violent tactics are tactically unwise and play into the hands of those under attack. These cases are different to the Texas affair in that we would be sympathetic to those causing the violence. But where would we place the question of ‘free speech’? Rather low in our priorities, I imagine.

    Dr Paul

    May 4, 2015 at 1:01 pm

  3. Pamela Geller is an ultra zionist bitch.
    if you are supporting under ‘free speech’ Wilders and Geller, i don’t see how you can really call yourself ‘left wing’ at all.


    May 4, 2015 at 1:23 pm

  4. Geller et al. actually were doing what some people have (wrongly) been accusing Charlie Hebdo of doing – trying to stir things up, just for the sake of it. Paul’s 1st comment in particular gets it right, I think.


    May 4, 2015 at 5:25 pm

  5. Not defending Pamela Geller or the ‘jihadwatch’ brigade, but, what are the points of ‘rights’ is you can not exercise them? Is it like public rights of way which have to be walked at least once a year, or they lapse? I mean, what is the point of a right if you can’t use it? Not doubt this was provocative, but then, what’s wrong with showing restraint? Stcks and stones may break my bones etc… Re the examples Dr Paul gives above. would such violence actually solve anything? Would strangling Katie Hopkins or whacking Enoch Powell make people more socialist or just relieve tensions?

    Sue R

    May 4, 2015 at 6:15 pm

  6. Bigging up these fab posters countering Gellar on the NY subway (I believe) > http://themuslimsarecoming.com/posters/

    Note on location: the wingnuts who adore Gellar just got the Texas governor to get state troops to monitor US army maneuvers in Texas. They thought the FEMA camps were being set up, Christians were about to be exterminated and Obama was bringing in ISIS fighters. These people also think there’s an ISIS camp just over the border in Mexico.

    @DrPaul all these folks want, nay demand, attention. Stuff like thumping them just plays into their narrative. I agree with Charles >

    Paul Canning

    May 4, 2015 at 6:33 pm

  7. If you cannot defend the right of people to draw offensive cartoons of any religious or political figure, you do not support free speech.

    I do.

    If you don’t, then you have to say what the solution should be.

    A law outlawing “insulting religion” as Labour tried to do? A reintroduction of a blasphemy law to “protect” all (?) religious belief from satire and abuse?

    Or supporting the right of the “oppressed” to defend their religion in whatever way they see fit. Including shooting cartoonists and Jews or, even, right wing Zionists.

    Please, do tell.

    John R

    May 4, 2015 at 7:48 pm

  8. Reactionaries on all sides, playing along with and mirroring each other. As reactionaries have done for centuries.

    These are depressing times.


    May 4, 2015 at 9:09 pm

  9. The “right to free speech” is easy – and banal. Yes, so long as people are not engaged in direct incitement to violence, harassment or breaching the peace, the law should protect their right to express themselves. The more interesting question is how to defeat the zealots and reactionaries on all sides, who want to use their right to free speech for politically undesirable ends. That will require some subtelty.


    May 4, 2015 at 9:25 pm

  10. …subtlety! Oh, for an “edit” function!


    May 4, 2015 at 9:29 pm

  11. Mike says: “Pamela Geller is an ultra zionist bitch.
    if you are supporting under ‘free speech’ Wilders and Geller, i don’t see how you can really call yourself ‘left wing’ at all.”

    Well Mike is an idiot. Supporting the idea that people should be free to say things, to promote their ideas or beliefs or to criticise the ideas and beliefs of others does not imply support for those ideas or beliefs in any way – and what has this event in Texas got to do with the ideologies of this Gellar woman in New York or Geert Wilders in the Netherlands anyway? Both of these characters may well be unpleasant types we would not wish to associate with but this event was, as I understand it, an exhibition of cartoons of or about a historical religious figure. It probably was intended to provoke a hostile response from some suicidal clerical fascist nutcases (which it duly did) but the event itself may have been unobjectionable (except for its sponsors).

    I am unfamiliar with the ravings of Ms Geller so I won’t comment on them. I have seen Wilders’ film Fitna which is a piece of political propaganda which argues that Islam is a hostile and aggressive ideology; a viewpoint that Islamist fascists (and they’re all fascists by definition) take every opportunity to reinforce. This is a valid political argument and analysis and although I do not necessarily agree with it I am quite prepared to debate it. Fitna did not advocate violence against Muslims and the British government’s ban on Wilders entering the UK was cowardly, idiotic and oppressive (and wholly counter productive) – just what we expect from New Labour.

    As for the cartoons themselves – the one reproduced above makes the point quite well.


    May 4, 2015 at 9:54 pm

  12. Following on from Paulo, it’s incredible that people who cannot accept peer-reviewed scientific fact (often to the extent the pile obscenities and threats on scientists) will believe absolutely *anything* else. And yet these nutters are wont to say ‘a man who won’t believe in God will believe in anything’. It would be funny if they didn’t have so many guns. Speaking of guns, check out the Texas plod, they seem to have ditched police uniforms and gone full on with choc-chip BDUs, all the better to stand out and be identified by passersby in distress no doubt.

    Once upon a time these yankee ‘taliban’ or ‘jihadis’ and their pathetic little provocation would never have been noticed. These days outrage travels around the flobe in milliseconds. The best thing to do with these ignorant rednecks, or that koran burning fuckwit in Florida is ignore them, then they have no power over you.

  13. @greensocialism “. It probably was intended to provoke a hostile response from some suicidal clerical fascist nutcases (which it duly did) but the event itself may have been unobjectionable (except for its sponsors).”

    inherent contradictions there mate. the people who set up a deliberately provocative event are objectionable, but the event is not. you’re the idiot who’s trying to square the circle.

    the event in Texas has everything to do with Geller and Wilders, you fool.

    the only free speech you’re all interested in is that which attacks Islam and Muslims.

    i long for the day that the US is minority white, and Texas is reclaimed into Mexico.


    May 4, 2015 at 11:20 pm

  14. People can draw any crap they like in the name of art or even entertainment but, JHC, that ‘winner’ is terrible. Is this like the ‘problem’ that the right seems to have with producing any decent comedians?

    Can we demand some standards here people, if you’re trying a little satire, some mockery. Can we mock the talent afflicted?! Some of those Charlie muhammed cartoons are great – and I don’t even speak French! How can Gellar, as a Jew, stand this [insert appropriate Yiddish mocking phrase]? The French – the FRENCH – are funnier than you.

    Seems that this ↓ is the best America can do. Time to step up America.

    Paul Canning

    May 4, 2015 at 11:32 pm

  15. @Mike

    I also like this free speech. In fact I think it’s epic. Note, not Islam related.

    Reminds me precisely of the Charlie Taubira cartoon which yet more liberal Americans got their knickers in a twist about (tendancecoatesys passim). And, yes, they complained to the New Yorker …

    Paul Canning

    May 5, 2015 at 12:04 am

  16. Two Gellar children’s treasury gems:

    1. When she accused the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt of lobbing puppy bombs http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/42721_Muslim_Brotherhood_Uses_Puppies_as_Firebombs
    2. When she claimed that Obama was Malcolm X’s love child http://gawker.com/5071373/bombshell-obama-malcom-x-love-child

    Paul Canning

    May 5, 2015 at 12:15 am

  17. Dean Obeidallah, the comic involved with the poster campaign I bigged up earlier, has a great piece at Daily Beast: Muslims Defend Pam Geller’s Right to Hate http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/05/04/muslims-defend-pam-geller-s-right-to-hate.html?via=desktop&source=twitter

    He points to another grassroots American response to Gellar, a ‘draw mohammed’ campaign! http://muslimgirl.net/12016/dm2015/ <<<

    And Dean says "hope is that the media covers our responses with the same zeal they cover the attack."

    Which they won't, but no thanks as well to the righteous liberals and lefties who will, also, ignore these Muslims who don't exactly fit their agendas.

    Paul Canning

    May 5, 2015 at 12:43 am

  18. I agree with John R and others defending the “easy” option of free speech.

    Because people are unpleasant does not mean they should lose human rights.

    Andrew Coates

    May 5, 2015 at 9:23 am

  19. “the only free speech you’re all interested in is that which attacks Islam and Muslims.” – mike

    Can I say that, in answer to this, that I defend the right of the National Union of Students to work with CAGE (aka Cageprisoners) and (in the words of the motion) –

    “To publicly oppose the Counter Terrorism and Security Act, for the NUS President to issue a public statement condemning the PREVENT Strategy and the Government’s Counter-Terrorism and Security Act, and alongside civil liberties groups including CAGE, lobby the government to repeal it immediately.”
    (Motion 517: Counter-Terrorism and Security Act. NUS conference April 2015)


    At the same time, I think it is perfectly reasonable to ask how the NUS can oppose sexism and homophobia while at the same time support and promote an organisation (CAGE) who are sympathetic to the Taliban. One leading member (Asim Qureshi) has been known to support the principle of stoning women for adultery.

    CAGE have also worked with Anwar al-Awlaki (Al queda) and Isis killer, “Jihadi John.”

    In fact, it is even more reasonable to say that if NUS go ahead with this, they deserve all the ignominy they get. I will still defend their right to do it, though.


    So, free speech is problematic. Supporting a “right” is not the same as agreeing with the group concerned. The question really is, if you want to have restrictions on free speech, where do you draw the line? Incitement to murder (whether it be Muslim, Jew or anyone else for that matter) is one place, I would propose.

    However, drawing an offensive picture of a religious figure (Muslim, Jewish, Christian etc) is not.

    john r

    May 5, 2015 at 1:12 pm

  20. And John, the cartoon pictured above is the one that “won” the competition.

    I defy anybody who is not a religious nutter to find that even offensive.

    Andrew Coates

    May 5, 2015 at 4:02 pm

  21. In the New Yorker cartoon above, of Mr and Mrs Obama fist-bumping’, Obama is dressed in traditional Indonesian Muslim garb, so yes, it is Islam related. As for the hysteria about ISIS penetration of America. It turns out this was an ISIS job, not difficult when all a chap needs to do is pick up a gun and shoot someone while yelling ‘allah akhbar’, anyone can be an ISIS operative. As for the stuff about the Mexican border, hate to break it to you, but that isn’t total BS. I was interested to learn that many of the gangsters in Latin America have a Middle Eastern background, not surprising as there is so much money to be made. Iran has been cultivating contacts in Latin America for decades ie Hezbollah, so there are grounds for some caution.

    Sue R

    May 5, 2015 at 6:19 pm

  22. Sue R – are you even a leftist? you sound like a tea party hag to me. We are all Hezbollah!

    the picture is offensive. it portrays the Prophet as a terrorist, and sinister threat from the east, who is also not entirely by accident the Prophet of the lands we are bombing and occupying. The contest and the whole ‘draw Mohammed’ crap is only about inflaming hatred between groups. This is why the EDL and their ilk, as well as ultra zionists, promote it. it is insulting and aims to be so, to not only a historical figure, but the Prophet of an entire religion.

    western pop culture is not sacrosanct. Lady Gaga and Madonna may mock the rituals of Christianity, but they would never dare to do so to Islam.

    If the western media are cowed by Islamists, then that is not necessarily a bad thing. The media has never been about free speech but about propaganda. As Marxists, i presume you would all know this.


    May 5, 2015 at 8:57 pm

  23. Mike says: “Sue R – are you even a leftist? you sound like a tea party hag to me. We are all Hezbollah!

    … etc.”

    Jesus wept! This bloke’s not just an idiot… he’s deranged. Celebrating the fact that murderous clerical fascists intimidate the media by threats of violence and by carrying out killings and massacres when they get the chance is incomprehensible for anyone with an ounce of rationality or intelligent analysis. Then he says “We are all Hezbollah!” Sounds like the kind of tosser who’s been flocking to Tower Hamlets to defend the corrupt sectarian crook who got himself elected as mayor there. “Well he’s Asian and makes anti-imperialist noises so he must be supported…” This is the kind of moronic bollocks that’s destroyed the SWP (and good riddance) but it’s also done a huge amount of harm to the left in general. There are few enough of us without finding even more reasons to fall out with each other but it is sadly necessary to isolate people like Mike and make it absolutely clear that they have no place in the Progressive Socialist Movement while they trot out shit like this.

    Hezbollah may have mounted an effective, even heroic, defence of Lebanon against Israeli-Zionist aggression but that doesn’t get around the fact that the “Party of God” are, like all islamists, FASCISTS. Is there something about this that Mike and his ilk don’t understand? Siding with fascists just because they happen to be black or brown or to be in or to come from countries subject to imperialist aggression or because we have enemies in common is not just politically stupid; it’s also suicidal. These people will kill us if they get the chance. The Tudeh Party in Iran made the mistake of trying to ride the tiger and hang on to Islamist coat-tails (sorry about the double metaphor but it seems appropriate) and their leaders lived just long enough to make public confessions on TV (after some unpleasant ‘persuasion’ no doubt) before they were hanged or just ‘disappeared in the great purge of 1988 (when the Islamic Republic massacred tens of thousands of prisoners and actual or suspected opponents or dissidents). This is what the Islamists intend for all of us..

    Mike and Galloway and the SWP arseholes might be happy to line up with people who want to impose a pre-enlightenment, religious, absolutist, clerical dictatorship on everyone just because they also oppose western imperialism but anti imperialism does make them progressive (any more than being anti-austerity makes the narrow-minded bourgeois nationalists in the SNP progressive). Islamists are sworn enemies of progressive or socialist political movements just as much as capitalists are. It may be Capitalism rather than Islamism that is driving us to the brink of global disaster but that’s of little consolation if we can’t agree on how to confront the main enemy because we are too busy trying to defend ourselves against deranged fanatics and religious bigots (and their fellow travellers and apologists).


    May 5, 2015 at 11:42 pm

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