Stop Islamization of America

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Stop Islamization of America
Pamela Geller 2011.jpg
Pamela Geller, co-founder and President of Stop Islamization of America
Abbreviation SIOA
Formation 2010 (2010)
Location
President Pamela Geller
Co-founder Robert Spencer
Website freedomdefense.typepad.com/sioa/
Formerly called American Freedom Defense Initiative

Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) (also known as the American Freedom Defense Initiative or simply the Freedom Defense Initiative) is an American far right,[1][2] anti-Islamist, anti-Muslim, and Islamophobic organization[3] led by Pamela Geller and author Robert Spencer.[4] Geller describes it as "a human rights entity dedicated to the freedom of speech, which is under attack, as well as to the freedom of religion and to individual rights."[5]

The group was founded in 2010 as the US branch of Stop Islamisation of Europe. It became known for its highly publicized ad campaigns in New York City, especially one opposing Park51, a Muslim community center proposed for lower Manhattan near Ground Zero.[2] The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) lists SIOA as a hate group.[6] They are headquartered in Houston, and is headquartered there strategically in order to "reconquer" a city lost to "ethnic and religious diversity".[2]

History[edit]

SIOA was founded by and is led by Pamela Geller and author Robert Spencer.[7] It is also known as the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI).[8] It was founded in 2010 at the request of Anders Gravers Pedersen, the leader of Stop Islamisation of Europe, of which it is the American affiliate.[8]

SIOA has been described as being on the extreme right of the political spectrum.[2][1]

2010[edit]

SIOA first entered the public eye with its early opposition to the construction of Park51, originally named Cordoba House, a 13-story Muslim community center proposed for a location two blocks from the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. On May 6, 2010, following community board approval of the project, Geller posted a blog piece[9] calling the building a "Monster Mosque".[10] SIOA launched a "Campaign Offensive: Stop the 9/11 Mosque!" and other protests.[8]

In July 2010, the organization purchased bus advertising in New York[11] and other American cities promoting a website offering "refuge from Islam."[12] According to Geller, the ads "were designed to help provide resources for Muslims who were fearful of leaving the faith".[11] The Council on American-Islamic Relations criticized the premise of the ads, that there were any such Muslims, calling it "a smoke screen to advance [Geller's] long-standing history of anti-Muslim bigotry".[11]

2011[edit]

The Southern Poverty Law Center named SIOA an anti-Muslim hate group in February 2011,[13] calling it a "propaganda powerhouse" that paints moderate Muslims as radical terrorists.[6] The Anti-Defamation League also lists it as a hate group, saying that it "promotes a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the guise of fighting radical Islam" and "seeks to rouse public fears by consistently vilifying the Islamic faith and asserting the existence of an Islamic conspiracy to destroy 'American' values."[14]

In July and August 2011, Geller and Spencer were discussed in the media because Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik's anti-Muslim manifesto quoted Spencer at length, and also cited Geller's blog.[15] According to Heidi Beirich, Deputy Director of SPLC, Geller and Spencer's writings were "the primary sources for the anti-Muslim propaganda that had helped give voice" to Breivik's 1500+ page manifesto.[2]

SIOA published a statement jointly with Jihad Watch and Stop Islamisation of Europe condemning Breivik's attack.[16]

2012[edit]

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) initially refused to display an ad in the New York City subway system, which read: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."[17] The authority's decision was overturned in July 2012, when Judge Paul A. Engelmayer of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that the ad of the American Freedom Defense Initiative is protected speech under the First Amendment, and that the MTA's actions were unconstitutional.[18][19][20] The judge held in a 35-page opinion that the rejected ad was "not only protected speech — it is core political speech ... [which as such] is afforded the highest level of protection under the First Amendment."[21][20][22]

Several groups sponsored subway ads to counter SIOA's original ad and condemn it as "hate speech".[23] The Jewish Council for Public Affairs called it "bigoted, divisive", and JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow said "the fact that ads have been placed in the subway attacking Israel does not excuse the use of attack ads against Muslims."[24] William McGurn, former speechwriter for President Bush, wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal supporting the ads.[25] Later that year, similar 'Defeat Jihad' ads were sponsored by the organization in Chicago.[26]

2013[edit]

In early January 2013, the AFDI placed over 200 advertisements in New York City subway stations.[27] The ads juxtaposed images of the September 11 attacks with a quote from the Koran: "Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers."[28] The New York City Transit Authority, required by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution to accept the advertisements, insisted that 25% of their area contain a Transit Authority disclaimer.[29] The ads ran for a month.[27]

2014[edit]

In response to an anti-Israel ad by the American Muslims for Palestine, the AFDI sponsored an ad on Washington D.C. buses with a photo of Hitler and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who supported the Nazi dictator before and during World War II.[30]

In May, a US Appeals Court upheld an earlier decision of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)'s refusal to grant a trademark for the name of the group. Reuters reported that the court decision stated that "Appellants (the website owners) contend the essays posted on their website do not advocate suppression of the Islamic faith, but only oppose political Islamisation. The (USPTO) board disagreed, as do we". Reuters also reported that an email from Geller stated "This is a complete whitewash and we knew we would be up against the PC (politically correct) bias in the court. This is clear ongoing evidence of how the federal government and especially the courts, bend over backwards, kowtow and placate Muslim sensitivities."[31]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ivanova, Mina (2013). "A Stab in the Eye of America or a Center for Multi-Faith Dialogue? Ideology and Contested Rhetorics Surrounding the Proposed Muslim Community Center near New York City's Ground Zero". In Clarke Rountree. Venomous Speech: Problems with American Political Discourse on the Right and Left. ABC-CLIO. p. 360. ISBN 9780313398674. Geller heads a small but vocal extreme right-wing group, called Stop Islamization of America. cf. note 4 (p.374) SIOA is associated with Stop Islamization of Europe, an organization with branches in nearly a dozen countries (mostly in Western Europe), founded by an eponymous Danish group that opposes immigration of Muslims to Europe. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Beirich, Heidi (2013). "Hate Across the Waters: The Role of American Extremists in Fostering an International White Consciousness". In Ruth Wodak, Majid KhosraviNik, Brigitte Mral. Right-Wing Populism in Europe: Politics and Discourse. A&C Black. pp. 89–92. ISBN 1780932456. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Epstein, Emily Anne (September 27, 2012). "Woman 'attacked' while defending anti-jihad subway ad plans to sue activist who sprayed painted HER". The Daily Mail. Retrieved February 9, 2014. 
  5. ^ Nolan, Karen (August 18, 2010). "The power of hate, fear". The Reporter (Vacaville, CA). According to Elliott, one person who was paying attention, and blogging about it, was Pamela Geller of the Atlas Shrugs Web site. She also runs Stop Islamization of America ( SIOA ), an anti-Islamic group that laughably claims to be a 'human rights organization dedicated to freedom of speech, religious liberty, and individual rights; no special rights for special classes.' 
  6. ^ a b Steinback, Robert (Summer 2011). "Jihad Against Islam". The Intelligence Report (142) (Southern Poverty Law Center). 
  7. ^ Atkins, Stephen E. (2 June 2011). The 9/11 Encyclopedia: Second Edition. ABC-CLIO. p. 222. ISBN 978-1-59884-922-6. 
  8. ^ a b c Barnard, Anne; Feuer, Alan (October 10, 2010). "Outraged, And Outrageous". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ Elliott, Justin (August 16, 2010). "How the "ground zero mosque" fear mongering began". Salon. 
  10. ^ Gottschalk, Peter (2012). "Religion Out of Place: Islam and cults as perceived threats in the United States". In Gershon Shafir, Everard Meade, William J. Aceves. Lessons and Legacies of the War on Terror: From Moral Panic to Permanent War. Critical Terrorism Studies. Routledge. pp. 111–112. ISBN 0415638410. 
  11. ^ a b c "'Leaving Islam?' bus adverts draw anger in NYC". Telegraph. May 27, 2010. 
  12. ^ Rice, Stephanie (July 28, 2010). "'Anti-Islamic' bus ads appear in major cities". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved January 31, 2012. 
  13. ^ Siemaszko, Corky (February 25, 2011). "Southern Poverty Law Center lists anti-Islamic NYC blogger Pamela Geller, followers a hate group". New York Daily News. 
  14. ^ "Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA)". Extremism. Anti-Defamation League. September 14, 2010. Retrieved January 12, 2013. 
  15. ^ Shane, Scott (July 24, 2011). "Killings in Norway Spotlight Anti-Muslim Thought in U.S.". The New York Times. 
  16. ^ Nathan-Kazis, Josh; Guttman, Nathan (August 5, 2011). "U.S. Critics of Islam Vow To Continue Activism After Oslo". The Forward. A statement published on July 25 on Jihad Watch, by Spencer and Geller ’s SIOA and Stop Islamisation of Europe, their group’s European ally, condemned the attacks. The statement went on to say that Breivik had attempted to join SOIE, but had been kept out of the organization 'because of his Nazi ties.' 
  17. ^ "Controversial 'Defeat Jihad' ad to appear in NYC subways". CNN. September 19, 2012. Retrieved October 1, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Controversial 'Defeat Jihad' ad to appear in NYC subways". CNN. September 19, 2012. Retrieved October 1, 2014. 
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ a b Ted Mann. "Court Rejects MTA's Ban Against 'Demeaning' Transit Ads". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 1, 2014. 
  21. ^ [2]
  22. ^ "Anti-jihad ads make their way to D.C. subways". CNN. October 10, 2010. Retrieved April 22, 2014. 
  23. ^ Masood, Ashwaq (October 4, 2012). "Pro-Muslim Subway Ads to Hang Near Anti-Jihad Ads". New York Times. 
  24. ^ "JCPA Condemns Bigoted, Divisive, and Unhelpful Anti-Muslim Ads". JCPA. Retrieved September 21, 2012. 
  25. ^ McGurn, William (October 1, 2012). "Call a Terrorist a 'Savage'? How Uncivilized". Wall Street Journal. 
  26. ^ "http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/15/cta-anti-muslim-ads-contr_n_2136432.html". Huffington Post. November 15, 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  27. ^ a b "More Ads With Inflammatory Messages About Islam Appear In NYC Subway". CBS news. January 8, 2013. 
  28. ^ Epstein, Emily Anne (December 7, 2012). "New Anti-Islam Ads to Debut This Month, Now With 25% More MTA Disclaimer". The New York Observer. Retrieved February 28, 2014.  The quote is from 3:151
  29. ^ Flegenheimer, Matt (Dec 13, 2012). "Controversial Group Plans More Ads in Subway Stations". New York Times. 
  30. ^ Paul Duggan (May 15, 2014). "In Metrobus ads, pro-Israel group features photo of Hitler". Washington Post. 
  31. ^ Bartz, Diane (May 13, 2014). "U.S. court says trademarks can't disparage religious, ethnic groups". Reuters. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 

External links[edit]