Pamela Geller, the conservative firebrand behind the Prophet Muhammad drawing contest in Texas – which was attacked by two gunmen earlier this week – told BuzzFeed News Friday she is planning similar events.
Geller, founder of the American Freedom Defense Initiative and Stop Islamization of America, said she had no regrets about organizing the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest in Garland earlier this week. The two gunmen opened fire on law enforcement officials outside the event were killed by a police officer before they could enter.
Geller said she received threats before the event – widely criticized as being anti-Islamic – and that law enforcement officials reached out to her about the threats before it began. Many Muslims believe that any depiction of the Prophet Muhammad is blasphemous.
On Wednesday, New York Republican Rep. Peter King, a vocal supporter of NYPD's past spying on Muslims, said Geller's contest was "provocative for no reason."
"Its one thing to be courageous if you're doing it for a valid cause, but for the cause of doing a cartoon of Mohammad to me that's, you're putting people's lives at risk for no good reason," King told AM970.
Geller said that she felt responsible for the safety of the people attending the event. "That's why we spent tens of thousands of dollars on security, and it worked: the heroic Garland police officer who shot the jihadis saved hundreds of lives," she told BuzzFeed News. Extra security cost about $10,000, police said.
Geller, a single mother of four who lives in New York, said she feared for her safety and the safety of her family and had taken security measures which she refused to disclose. She confirmed she is planning similar events, but did not give further details.
Geller dismissed fears that similar events might also incite violence. "It was the jihadis, not I, who made the cartoons a flash point. If we surrender on that point and stop drawing Muhammad, we've established a precedent of surrendering to violent Sharia enforcement," she said.
Responding to two Charlie Hebdo editors who recently said she was "obsessed by Islam," Geller said, "It's understandable. They are French. But they're wrong."
In an interview with PEN, the two editors of the French satirical magazine – which often depicted Muhammad and was attacked in January, leaving 12 dead – said that comparing Geller's cartoon exhibit with Charlie Hebdo was "nonsense."
Editor-in-chief Gérard Biard said that the difference between them was that they were obsessed by the news and Geller was obsessed by Islam. "She waits every morning and thinks, 'What can I do today to defy these people,'" he said.
Geller, who has been a vocal supporter of Charlie Hebdo, added, "I am not obsessed with Islam. If they were really obsessed with the news, they would know that the world is on fire with jihad, and that we have to stand up and show we will not bow to violent intimidation and curtail our freedoms in the face of violence and thuggery."
"I am obsessed with freedom," she added. "One of the Hebdo cartoonists said he would no longer draw Muhammad. The jihadists got what they wanted."
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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