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 her religion."
- 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."