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Factsheet: Pamela Geller

Published on 05 Dec 2018

IMPACT: One of the most prominent anti-Muslim and anti-Islam activists and bloggers in the U.S., Pamela Geller was a leading opponent of the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” in 2010. Geller is well conencted with anti-Muslim individuals and organizations in the U.S. and around the world, and her views were cited as a source of inspiration for the 2011 mass shooting and bombings in Norway.

Geller is the president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), groups she founded with Robert Spencer. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) identifies both organizations as anti-Muslim hate groups. The Center for American Progress (CAP) identifies her as a leading activist in the “Islamophobia network.”

Geller has gained a sizable following through her website, her writings for Breitbart, and her appearances on major news networks, where she has been brought on as an expert to respond to stories involving Islam, Muslims, and terrorism. Geller is the author of two books. One is a New York Times bestseller. 

In 2010, Geller and Spencer’s group SIOA organized the protest against the Park 51 Center, an Islamic cultural center in downtown Manhattan. Geller’s activism garnered national attention. After her campaign, a majority of Americans opposed the center’s construction.

According to reporting in Slate, the far-right, Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik cited Geller, Geller’s blog, “and the writings of her friends, allies, and collaborators—Robert Spencer, Jihad Watch, Islam Watch, and Front Page magazine—more than 250 times” in his ‘manifesto’ as a source of inspiration for his atrocities. When news of the bombings and shooting first broke, Geller falsely claimed the shooter was Muslim and engaging in Jihad.

On her website Geller chronicles the “capitulation” of the ‘West’ to Islamic law, or Sharia, and posts stories about terrorism, often arguing that Muslims’ religion, Islam, motivates these acts. 

Geller claims that American Muslim organizations are “terror-tied” and “fronts” for “jihad terror” that are “proxies for the Muslim Brotherhood.” She claimed that under the Obama Administration, the State Department is “essentially being run by Islamic supremacists,” and that the White House and Department of Justice has “unquestionably” been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood, which she considers a terrorist group. Geller shares these views with Frank Gaffney and others who the CAP has identified as part of the “Islamophobia network.” 

Geller also supports anti-sharia or anti-foreign law bills, which were introduced in two dozen state courts amid a concerted campaign to engender concern and fear about Islamic law in America.

Geller believes Islam “should be regarded as an authoritarian and supremacist political system as well as a religion.” In 2013, AFDI called for profiling Muslims and mosque surveillance.  

Spencer and Geller’s group ADFI funded more than a dozen public transit ad campaigns that cast Islam as a source of violence and intolerance. One poster read: “Islamic Jew Hatred: It’s in the Quran.” Controversy over the ads’ content resulted in them being banned in some cities. The American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), which describes itself as “the nation’s first truly authentic Judeo-Christian public interest law firm,” has represented Geller and Spencer in numerous subsequent lawsuits. Run by David Yerushalmi (described by SPLC as the “father of the anti-Sharia movement”) and Robert Muise, AFLC has brought lawsuits on behalf of Geller and Spencer against the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), King County, Washington, and the Detroit-area Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, among others.

In June 2015, AFDI held the “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest” in Garland, Texas, in which participants submitted crude and lewd caricatures of Islam’s last prophet, Muhammad. That event made headlines after two armed men with alleged ISIS sympathies attempted to attack the event and were killed by police. According to reporting in The Intercept, an undercover FBI agent texted one of the gunmen a week before the event to “Tear up Texas.”

President Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon has stated that Geller is “one of the leading experts in the country, if not in the world” on Islam. With high praise, he has given voice to her perspectives in Breitbart forums since at least 2013. In a 2015 interview with Geller, Bannon observed that Donald Trump’s views on Islam closely resembled Geller’s. He said: “It looks like [Trump] to some degree [has] been reading your website and been reading all your writings on Breitbart, because a lot of what his logic is today is really some of the logic that you’ve been putting out there for many, many years.”

In 2015, Geller said she believes “radical Islam” is a “redundant” phrase, and that “while there are [Muslim] moderates; they’re secular, they’re non-practicing.” During the 2016 presidential campaign, Geller called Trump’s Muslim ban proposal a “logical, rational and reasonable” policy.

Reporting in The Daily Beast in March 2018 reported that Geller’s four daughters run viral Instagram accounts. According to reporter Taylor Lorenz, the Oshry sisters “have either stayed silent on political issues, or, in some cases, given hints that they are at least somewhat in line with their mother politically.” In a statement provided by Claudia Oshry for the The Daily Beast article she said, “We want to be clear to our audience and fans that our political and cultural beliefs are not anti-Muslim or anti-anyone. Our views are separate from our mother’s.”

Last Updated August 8, 2019