Conservative blogger and activist Pamela Geller organized the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest in Texas, which was attacked by two gunmen on Sunday.
Geller's organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), held the contest in the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, where a conference denouncing Islamophobia had previously been held.
According to Geller, the contest and exhibit were in defense of free speech after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Some critics of the event called it an attack on Muslims, and many have criticized Geller and her organization overall as being anti-Islamic.
"These savages need to be held to account, and the West has to stop this pathetic cowardice and submission to barbarity," she wrote in her blog, Atlas Shrugs. "They're just cartoons. Enough already."
According to Geller, the online contest received 200 entries. These included a cartoon of Muhammad on a unicycle juggling heads spiked on the word Islam; one in which the Prophet was drawn holding a bloody knife with the caption, "When it comes to religion, I've got the edge;" another depicted him as the Piped Piper leading rats holding bombs and wearing suicide vests. The winning cartoonist received $10,000.
After the attack, in which both gunmen were killed by police officers, Geller wrote, "This is a war. This is war on free speech."
Geller didn't return a request for comment from BuzzFeed News. One of the alleged shooters, Elton Simpson, was previously investigated by the FBI for terrorism charges. He was convicted of lying about his travel plans to Africa.
Geller, a single mother of four in New York, began blogging after 9/11 and was a vocal opponent of Park51, the Islamic cultural and prayer center with a planned location near Ground Zero.
Geller, 56, grew up in a predominantly Jewish community in Long Island and left Hofstra University without a degree, according to a 2010 New York Times profile.
She began a career in publishing at the New York Daily News and was later the Associate Publisher at The New York Observer.
She got nearly $4 million in her 2007 divorce from car dealer Michael H. Oshry and another $5 million from a life-insurance policy for her four daughters after his death in 2008, the NYT reported.
Geller started her blog, Atlas Shrugs, in 2004. It attracted thousands of views in 2006 when it was one of the few media sites in the U.S. to reproduce the controversial Danish cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.
She rose to prominence as a conservative activist when she spearheaded the protests against Park51. She called the planned Islamic cultural center and mosque's developer, Sharif El-Gamal, a "thug" and "a deadbeat" and decried then-mayor Michael Bloomberg's argument that it was a testament to New York's religious tolerance. "The last chapter [of the Qu'ran], which supersedes all chapters, is a very violent chapter to kill all non-Muslims and to conquer," she said, arguing that the religion of Islam was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
Geller, who describes herself as a human rights activist, also runs the Stop Islamization of America organization and has authored books on the topic. She's also a columnist for right-wing news media including Breitbart and World Net Daily.
Geller's most visible anti-Islam messages are spread through sponsored ads on public transit in major U.S. cities.
Most recently, her organization's anti-Muslim ads featuring Hitler were seen on the sides of San Francisco's buses two days after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.
The ads, with the words, "Islamic Jew-Hatred: It's in the Quran," show Hitler and his "staunch ally, the leader of the Muslim world, Haj Amin al-Husseini." Al-Husseini was a 20th-century Arab Palestinian leader and a vocal opponent of Zionism.
Last week, the MTA, which runs New York City's mass transit, voted to ban all political advertising on its trains and buses after a federal judge allowed AFDI to run its ads on MTA's buses and trains. One of the ads says Hamas kills Jews to worship Allah.
Geller said the "public service ads" exposed "the ideology behind the jihad against Israel and America."
In response to the MTA's previous ban on their ads for fear of provoking violence, Geller wrote on her blog, "For the left, Baltimore is 'free speech,' Ferguson is 'free speech,' but our ads 'might incite violence.'"
She also engaged in a three-year legal battle against Detroit's public transit system over its refusal to display her ads "offering a lifeline of survival for Muslim girls living in dangerous and violent households."
She spent $10,000 on an ad campaign dismissing Islamophobia as "Islamorealism" and ran a pro-Israel ad campaign pinning Israel's "civilized" supporters against "savages."
In response to critics calling her anti-Muslim, Geller has maintained that she is "counter-jihad" and that she loves people but fights "extreme, misogynist, genocidal ideologies."
Geller is also a staunch opponent of President Obama and has described him as an "unabashed member of the transtribal supertribe that Muhammad created 1,400 years ago."
In a post on Atlas Shrugs this February, Geller detailed how Obama flashed the "Muslim gang sign" by putting his one finger up in an "affirmation of Islamic faith" at a U.S.-African Leaders' Summit in D.C.
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at email@example.com.
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