Outspoken anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller felt the need to protect her brand.
Geller, perhaps best known for leading the charge in 2010 against construction of a mosque near Ground Zero in New York, is the founder of “Stop Islamization of America,” a group that wants to educate Americans about “Islamic domination and expansionism.” It has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rebuffed the controversial blogger’s attempt to trademark “Stop the Islamisation of America,” upholding the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s finding that the name disparages Muslims. (The word “Islamization” appeared with an “s” and a “z” in different parts of the opinion — the court found the spelling variation “immaterial.”)
The trademark board can refuse applications for trademarks that disparage persons, institutions, beliefs or national symbols. The board had denied Geller’s application, finding that the words “Stop the Islamisation of America” associated Islam with terrorism, a characterization many Muslims are likely to find offensive.
Geller agreed. In an e-mail to The Washington Post, Geller said the ruling is “evidence of how the federal government, and especially the courts, continue to bend over backwards to kowtow and placate Muslim sensitivities … they are afraid of the response from Islamic supremacists.” Geller plans to appeal the decision, which she called “unconstitutional.”
The developer who sparked a firestorm in 2010 when he proposed to build a community center with an Islamic prayer room two blocks from Ground Zero announced this week that he plans to turn the property at 45-51 Park Place into a museum of Islamic culture.
A spokesman for the developer, Sharif El-Gamal, told The New York Times that the proposed museum would be three stories high and 5,000 square feet, much smaller than the proposed community center, which was slated to be 15 stories tall and include a swimming pool, basketball court, auditorium, classrooms, and cafe, as well as other attractions.
El-Gamal ran into difficulties finding financing for the community center project, even though the project won the support of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, several 9/11 families, and many Muslim, Christian, and Jewish leaders. It languished after becoming the target of criticism from right-wing groups, anti-Muslim activists, and several other 9/11 families.
The museum project has already come under fire by anti-Muslim bloggers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who vigorously fought the community center.
Two of the people behind a campaign against the building of the “Ground Zero Mosque” in New York have been barred from entering Britain to speak at an English Defence League rally in London this weekend, it has been announced. The Home Secretary Theresa May has told Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, both of the anti-Islamic group Stop Islamization of America, that their presence in the UK would “not be conducive to the public good”. The decision, which they cannot appeal, will stand for between three and five years.
Ms Geller said: “In a striking blow against freedom, the British government has banned us from entering the country. In not allowing us into the country solely because of our true and accurate statements about Islam, the British government is behaving like a de facto Islamic state. The nation that gave the world the Magna Carta is dead.”
Mr Spencer echoed her comments, and added: “This decision is a victory for the campaign of smears and defamation that has been waged against us in the UK since we announced we were going. In reality, our work is dedicated to the defence of the freedom of speech and equality of rights for all. If that is too hot for the U.K. now, then Britain faces a grim future.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “We can confirm that Pamela Geller is subject to an exclusion decision. The Home Secretary will seek to exclude an individual if she considers that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good. We condemn all those whose behaviours and views run counter to our shared values and will not stand for extremism in any form.” EDL co-founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – aka Tommy Robinson – did not respond to a request for comment.
The Home Secretary is understood to be considering a request to ban two of the people behind a campaign against New York’s “Ground Zero Mosque” from entering the UK. Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who are among America’s most notorious anti-Muslim campaigners, have been invited to speak at an English Defence League rally in Woolwich to mark Armed Forces Day and the death of Drummer Lee Rigby. But the chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz has written to Ms May expressing his concern and labelling them “incendiary speakers”. In his letter, Mr Vaz wrote: “These individuals are infamous in America for inciting racial hatred, including sponsoring discriminatory advertisements placed on public transport. “It is clear that the location, motivation and attendees at this march will incite hatred. Adding incendiary speakers such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer just fuels the fire.”
Mr Vaz said: “I am alarmed that the EDL is planning this type of march in Woolwich. Before we have to pay the costs for the extra policing required for this demonstration the Home Secretary should consider using her discretion to ban these two speakers from entering the country. A ban should be enforced properly and physically stop people entering our borders.” Scotland Yard said that it was aware of the march and would have an appropriate policing plan in place.
A government source indicated that the Home Secretary was looking into the proposal to ban the pair. However, a spokesman refused to confirm this, saying that it would not be appropriate to discuss individual cases.
EDL co-founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – who also goes by the name ‘Tommy Robinson’ – said: “It is ridiculous. We want other extremists to be banned from entering the country. These two people have never been arrested, they are well-respected in America. It is fascism, to me.”
Neither Ms Geller nor Mr Spencer responded to requests for comment.
CHICAGO — There is an advertising war being fought here — not over soda or car brands but over the true meaning of the word “jihad.”
Backing a continuing effort that has featured billboards on the sides of Chicago buses, the local chapter of a national Muslim advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has been promoting a nonviolent meaning of the word — “to struggle” — that applies to everyday life.
Supporters say jihad is a spiritual concept that has been misused by extremists and inaccurately linked to terrorism, and they are determined to reclaim that definition with the ad campaign, called My Jihad.
But last month another set of ads, with a far different message, started appearing on buses here.
Mimicking the My Jihad ads, they feature photos and quotations from figures like Osama bin Laden and Faisal Shahzad, who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square in 2010. “Killing Jews is worship that draws us closer to Allah,” says one ad, attributing the quotation to a Hamas television station. They end with the statement: “That’s his jihad. What’s yours?”
The leader of the second ad campaign, Pamela Geller, executive director of the pro-Israel group American Freedom Defense Initiative, has criticized the original My Jihad ads as a “whitewashed version” of an idea that has been used to justify violent attacks around the world.
The screen showed a balding man with tawny skin and a salt-and-pepper goatee, and seconds later it spelled out his name: Mujahid Abdul-Rashid. The advertisement went on to show him fishing, playing in a yard with two toddlers, and sitting down to a family meal.
One week later, again during an N.F.L. game, the same commercial appeared. This time I listened to the words. The advertisement was for Prudential’s financial products for retirees. Mr. Abdul-Rashid was talking about his own retirement after 19 years as a clothing salesman, and the family time he now intended to enjoy.
“That’s my world,” he said over that closing shot of the family dinner.
What I had just seen was something rare and laudable: what seems to be the first mass-market product commercial featuring an identifiably Muslim person not as a security risk, not as a desert primitive, but as an appealing, everyday American.
As if to underscore the point, the Prudential commercial with Mr. Abdul-Rashid was appearing on television during the same period last fall that saw two widespread commercial campaigns vilifying Muslims. One was the series of ads on New York subways and buses placed by a group led by Pamela Geller, the outspoken blogger and critic of Islam, which depicted a worldwide conflict between the civilized West and Islamic “savages.” The other was the billboard during the presidential campaign that showed President Obama submissively kissing the hand of a sheik.
Then, during the Super Bowl last weekend, a Coca-Cola commercial trotted out the stereotype of the Arab on camelback.
An aphorism says that no good deed shall go unpunished. You can only hope that Prudential’s silence about its own admirable commercial isn’t an example, in a nation where Islamophobia persists, of a good deed that is being disavowed.
Pamela Geller has been running a controversial ad in New York subway stations that compares Muslim extremists to “savages.” She won a court order to keep the ads up after complaints that it was too offensive. Geller sat down with Erin Burnett on CNN today to defend the ads. Burnett argued that just because someone has a right to something does not mean they should say it, and Geller told Burnett that her opinion is “emboldening Islamic terrorism and emboldening extremism.”
Geller said she wanted to put up the ad to rebut the anti-Israel ads she sees in the subway all the time. She argued that the First Amendment gives her the right to put up something that people find offensive. She said, “I’m running them because I can.” Burnett told Geller her ad sounds like a “narrative of hate.” Geller rebutted her by pointing to terrorist attacks and referring to them as “savagery.”
Burnett asked Geller why she would want to denigrate an entire faith with her ad. Geller countered that she did not, but did dispute the idea that there is anything in the Qu’ran about peace. Geller also pointed out that people are not being killed all over the world for Christianity and Judaism. When Burnett tried to call Geller out for using the word “savages,” Geller said that Burnett was misinterpreting what she said.
Burnett closed the interview by highlighting statements from the Anti-Defamation League that condemn Geller’s ad. Geller brushed aside the criticism, saying that no one who loves the Jewish community actually “takes them seriously.”
NEW YORK — Provocative advertisements equating Muslim radicals with savages appeared in New York City subways on Monday, drawing immediate criticism from some riders.
“It’s a terrible idea,” said Colby Richardson at a subway station in midtown Manhattan. “It’s going to spark controversy obviously when you deem one side savages and the other side civilized. “
The ads — reading, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” — went up in 10 stations across Manhattan after a court victory by a conservative commentator who once headed a campaign against an Islamic center near the World Trade Center site.
Many commuters in New York City were uncomfortable with a new series of subway ads that equate Muslim radicals with savages. The MTA was forced to put up the ads in the subway system after a lawsuit by anti-Islamic blogger Pamela Geller. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York initially refused to run blogger Pamela Geller’s ad, saying it was “demeaning.” But a federal judge ruled in July that it is protected speech under the First Amendment.