The Arizona chapter of America's largest Muslim civil liberties group is calling for the cancellation of an event tonight at a Mesa high school.
Pamela Geller is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. at East Valley High School in Mesa at an event planned by the Red Mountain Tea Party, a Mesa-based group that meets regularly at the school. But the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, is calling on the high school to cancel the event.
Their reasons are twofold.
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First, CAIR doesn't like what Geller has to say.
"Islam is the most anti-Semitic, genocidal ideology in the world," she once commented. Geller famously re-posted controversial cartoon images of the prophet Muhammad from a Danish newspaper on her Atlas Shrugs blog, and was involved in the campaign to stop the building of a community center--which she called a "victory mosque"--near Ground Zero. She has claimed that Hitler was inspired by Islam, and she's bragged about using a copy of the Quran as a doorstop, CAIR says. Geller's blog was cited by the Norwegian man who killed 69 people in an anti-Muslim attack in 2011. The two organizations Geller founded, Stop the Islamization of America and the American Freedom Defense Initiative, are both on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of designated hate groups, and she has been banned from entering the United Kingdom because of her expressed views.
But CAIR has raised another issue in calling for the event's cancellation: student safety.
In a blog post yesterday, Geller invited fans to attend her talk, which she calls "an evening of education about Islam, the Islamic State, the Middle East and more." But the invitation wasn't quite an open one.
"As for the troublemakers and those threats from Islamic thugs and goons--we have armed security, plus it's a gun state--plenty of patriots with protection, including me," Geller wrote, adding "Trust me -- you are going down first [emphasis Geller's]."
With very few exceptions, federal law prohibits carrying weapons in school zones. Tea Party meetings aren't one of those exceptions.
"It would be irresponsible for school officials to allow an event at which the sponsors and the speaker may be armed in violation of federal law and have apparently threatened 'troublemakers,'" says Imraan Siddiqi, president of CAIR's Arizona chapter.
In a blog post today, Geller posted CAIR's press release and responded directly to their allegations. "What did I say?" she wrote. "I warned any homicidal jihadi that there would be defensive measures taken. Unlike Hamas-CAIR, we do everything within the law. Why hasn't Hamas-CAIR ever addressed the hundreds of death threats we get as part of standing against jihad? If they denounced those, maybe counter-jihad speakers wouldn't have to have armed police at our events."
The tension between Geller and CAIR isn't new. On her website, Geller refers to CAIR as an "Islamic supremacist group." Her groups paid for signs in subways and on buses in several major cities denouncing CAIR leaders and calling the group "Hamas in the U.S."
CAIR's stated mission is "to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding."
CAIR previously made Geller the subject of one of its "Islamophobe profiles," in which the group documents people and organizations it sees as spreading anti-Muslim messages.
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Geller's website says she previously addressed the Red Mountain Tea Party in November 2011.
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