In October 2012, Pamela Geller — a blogger and the executive director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative — told TheBlaze in an exclusive interview about plans to expand her controversial DC-based ad campaign that features an image of Osama bin Laden. The ad is meant to shed light on the fact that jihad is a tenet of Islam, but some critics argue that the ad marginalizes all Muslims. Geller and others who support the ad campaign, meanwhile, maintain it is directed at fighting jihad and radical Islamism.
Geller was embroiled in a long battle with New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) over her ads as well, but a judge ruled in her favor. After additional push-back from MTA, the outspoken activist’s ads were permitted so long as they carried a disclaimer stating that the MTA itself did not endorse the message. Geller won a similar case with the DC’s Washington Metro Transit Authority (WMATA) and now, her string of ads have launched in subway stations across the DC-metro area. The campaign, which will run for one month, is also meant to satirize CAIR’s “MyJihad” ad campaign, which seeks to minimize the definition of jihad and portray it as a harmless inner-struggle within one’s-self alone.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has not been a fan of the initiative, needless to say, and has fought to have the ads removed on the basis that it is offensive to Muslims. CAIR executive director Ibrahim Hooper was featured in a Fox5 news segment about the ads on Friday, stating that Geller is “one of the nation’s leading anti-Muslim bigots” and that the Southern Poverty Law Center named her “as one of the nation’s inner circle of hatemongers of Islam.”
Subway-goers were also asked their opinion of the ad, with some saying that they do not like seeing bin Laden’s face given his role in the 9/11 attacks. This, however, is likely Geller’s point as she seeks to have Americans remember rather than forget the extent of damage radical Islam can cause.
“Seeing his face especially. That’s not a face you want to see too often, especially after what he did to this country,” said Metro traveler Anisa Bailey during the interview.
Struggling to have her ads placed in DC Metro stations is not the first obstacle Geller has faced, however. After four years hosting popular events at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) where she has invited guests like Dutch MP Geert Wilders and former congressman Allen West to speak about radical Islam, the outspoken activist has not been granted a venue at the conference this year. Still, she, along with champions of the First Amendment have retained one small victory with the judge’s ruling to allow her anti-jihad ad campaign to move forward.