UK

Pamela Geller, Activist Barred From Entering UK, Sues Washington Transit Authority Over Muhammad Adverts

02/07/2015 16:05 BST | Updated 02/07/2015 17:59 BST

NEW YORK -- An American blogger and activist, who was banned from entering the UK, is suing the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for refusing to run adverts featuring the prophet Muhammad on DC public transport.

Pamela Geller was refused entry to Britain by Home Secretary Theresa May in 2013. The activist was due to attend a rally in Woolwich in protest at the murder of soldier Lee Rigby. The government said the attendance by Geller, along with author Robert Spencer, would “not be conducive to the public good.”

Reported by the Daily Caller, Geller submitted the poster to the Transit Authority at the end of May with the intention of having them placed on buses and trains around the capital. However, the Authority said a week later that it would no longer accept “issue-oriented advertising.

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AFDI President Pamela Geller is interviewed at The Associated Press, Thursday, May 7, 2015 in New York

Geller subsequently called the decision an “end run around the first amendment,” which under the US constitution guarantees of speech. As such, she is suing the WMATA for damages resulting from the loss of her constitutional rights, including her attorney fees. The amount is unknown.

Geller, who is president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an organisation listed by the Southern Poverty Law Centre as an anti-Muslim hate group, recently held a "Draw Muhammad" cartoon contest in Texas, which ended with bloodshed when two gunmen tried to attack it. It is the winning cartoon from that competition that Geller wants displayed on the transportation system.

Explaining why the cartoon should be shown, an AFDI statement read: “Because the media and the cultural and political elites continue to self-enforce the Sharia without the consent of the American people by refusing to show any depictions of Muhammad or showing what it was in Texas that had jihadists opening fire, we are running an ad featuring the winning cartoon by former Muslim Bosch Fawstin from our Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest in Garland, Texas.”

Last month, Edgar Hopida, the communications director for the Islamic Society of North America, told HuffPost the AFDI's plan was provocation. "Pamella Gellar has made a career out of demonising Islam and Muslims," he said. "She wants us to be second-class citizens."

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Cyrus McGoldrick, Advocacy Director for Council on American-Islamic Relations, takes a photo of an AFDI poster on Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, in New York's Times Square subway station

He added: "She wants her 15 minutes of fame and she wants Muslims to react in an ugly way," Hopida said. "What Muslims can do is invite people to learn more about the Prophet Muhammad's life and mission. Education and dialogue is the best way to tackle hate and ignorance."

The WMATA was successfully sued by Geller in 2012 when they rejected an advert featuring Adolf Hitler and Haj Amin al-Husseini, with the heading “Islamic Jew-Hatred: It’s in the Quran.”

In August 2014, Geller held a rally in New York in support of Israel and minorities persecuted under Islamic rule. The HuffPost UK was there to cover it.

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