A series of ads have appeared on city buses in New York and Miami that advertise a Web site called Refuge From Islam
"Death fatwa on your head?" one of the ads reads. "Is your family or
community threatening you? LEAVING ISLAM? Got Questions? Get Answers!"
The ads were purchased by a woman named Pamela Geller, who blogs at the
site Atlas Shrugs
. Geller is the executive director of a group called Stop Islamization of America
or SIOA, which sued Detroit this week for refusing to run the Refuge
From Islam ads on its public transportation. The issue is drawing heated responses.
- Note the Question Mark
According to Geller, the ads are meant to point up resources for
unhappy Muslims looking to leave the faith, not to serve as a blanket
condemnation of Islam. "It's not offensive to Muslims, it's religious
freedom," she told the Associated Press recently. "It's not targeted at practicing Muslims. It doesn't say 'leave,' it says 'leaving' with a question mark."
- 'A Religion of Intolerance and Violence' The lawyer Richard Thompson,
who filed the suit against the Detroit transportation authority on
behalf of SIOA, was less diplomatic with his language. "Muslim
apologists rely on the fact that most Americans are ill-informed about
Islam," he said recently. "So they easily get away with portraying
Islam as a religion of peace. Americans have a right to know the
truth--Islam is a religion of intolerance and violence. Traditional
Islamic law prescribes the penalty of death if a Muslim leaves his or
- This Is Clear Evidence of Bigotry, says Dawud Walid,
executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of
Michigan. "If [Geller's] planning to put those Islamophobic ads in
Detroit, she's wasting her time," Walid told reporters. "People are
free to leave Islam or any religion at any time. This is the United
States of America." Of Geller, Walid said that "she's a well-known
anti-Muslim bigot" and that "she makes no distinction between extremist
Muslims and mainstream Muslims."
- About That Question Mark... Gawker's Adrian Chen
has a typically acerbic take. "It's just a question, do Muslims hate
freedom of speech? Is it because Muslims are violent freedom haters?
See how that wasn't offensive?" Chen imagines the logical endpoint
suggested by the Refuge From Islam ads--that "Pamela Geller will swoop
down in an American Flag bikini and machine gun away all the murderous
Imams who are keeping this Muslim person in a religion that is so full
of hate and repression."
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
aeichler at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.