St. Louis is the latest city being subjected to the American Freedom Defense Initiative’s campaign to spread hate.
Anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller, who co-runs AFDI with Robert Spencer — announced Monday via Breitbart News that her group is responsible for a billboard advertisement campaign featuring a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.
In the face of bans on AFDI’s provocative ads in some cities, the group has turned to St. Louis and other new locations to spread their anti-Muslim message.
In the Breitbart piece, Geller claims 100 billboards displaying the cartoon have sprang up all across the St. Louis area. She adds this is only the first city to feature such billboards and that the next location scheduled to display similar ones will be announced tomorrow.
The image featured on the billboards is the winning cartoon from AFDI’s controversial “Draw the Prophet” event last month in Garland, Texas. The cartoon is the product of Bosch Fawstin, an already established anti-Muslim cartoonist and activist. Along with the cartoon rendering of Muhammad, the billboard calls to “Support Free Speech.”
AFDI’s cartoon contest gained international attention after police killed two gunman attempting to ambush the conference center where the event was being held. Still, Geller, a known provocateur, has capitalized on the attack to reinforce her claim that her free speech she uses to antagonize Muslims is being infringed upon. Her group has been fixated on displaying the cartoon by any means possible.
AFDI’s St. Louis billboard campaign comes after a recent decision that denied the group’s cartoon from being run on public transit vehicles in Washington, D.C. Last month, AFDI submitted their ad to be featured on space owned by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
However, given the provocative nature of the ads, the WMATA board clearly ruled in favor of public safety and decided to ban all “issue-oriented” advertisements for the remainder of 2015. Because courts often rule in favor of AFDI’s right to run anti-Muslim ads on city-owned vehicles, Washington, D.C., and other cities have resorted to a more general ban in order to keep such incendiary images and messages off of public spaces.
Following the announcement, Geller said the ruling was the work of Islamic blasphemy laws, claiming, “This is sharia in America.”
Now, as shown by the billboards in St. Louis, AFDI is taking other avenues to publicly display their anti-Muslim cartoons.