Pamela Geller: “This Is a Clash of Civilizations”
When did the Ground Zero mosque first come to your attention?
I read a story on the front page of The New York Times in December 2009 that they would be erecting a mega-mosque — although The New York Times didn’t say “mega-mosque” — but a very large mosque near, they said, near Ground Zero.
But in that story was the little-known fact that that building was destroyed in the 9/11 attacks when a piece of the landing gear went crashing into the roof. It went through I don’t know how many floors, and it was partially destroyed.
And so that building wasn’t near Ground Zero; that building is Ground Zero. So I began reporting on it, and the reaction in the blogosphere on the Internet was quite visceral. People were shocked that anyone would consider something so offensive and provocative and humiliating.
It sort of died down until it was May of 2010 when a small committee, a subcommittee of the Lower Manhattan Development Board, met and unanimously approved the plan to go forward with the Ground Zero mosque.
Now, they didn’t need approval, but it does give the imprimatur of legitimacy, and when I read that, I said: “Well, this is outrageous. We need to go to the next meeting.” And we went to the meeting on I think it was May 25, where you had hundreds — it was standing room only.
Patriots and proud Americans were speaking up against this terrible idea. And that’s really when I urged people to join me at a rally on June 6, D-Day. Symbolism was quite deliberate, because we’re dealing in symbols here.
At the time it wasn’t even called Park51. At the time it was called the Cordoba Mosque, and again, spit in my face and tell me it’s raining. Cordoba, for those of us [who are] students of history know that was a period where in 711 Muslim armies invaded Spain, which was a collection of Christian kingdoms.
And while it may have been a golden age for the Muslim invaders, it certainly wasn’t a golden age for the Christians and the Jews who were denied basic human rights, lived under dhimmitude, and it was the site of not one but two Jewish pogroms.
So it was doubly insulting. And it’s iconic of Islamic conquest over the West. So it was at that May 25 hearing that I urged Muslims of conscience, Americans, infidels to join me on June 6, and we had upward of 8,000 to 10,000 people at that rally.
Tell me about the May 25 event, because it’s a turning point. It’s the first time when the opposition actually comes physically onto the scene, I think.
Yes, it’s exactly the time when the opposition comes on the scene. And understand that this is not an organized movement. This is not tied to any Tea Party or grassroots [group]. These were people on their own initiative that showed up on a weeknight. These are working people. So you will find that, going forward, the city would schedule during the day these hearings, because people can’t leave their jobs, and it made it more difficult.
But that hearing was in the evening, and it was one person after another that was voicing opposition. Now, I did get to speak first, not because I’m special, but because you had to fill out a form that asked why you were there. And so under “Reason,” I wrote, “For outreach,” knowing that the deck was stacked and I would be called, and I was called second.
I was not adversarial. I just voiced the opposition that we thought it was a terrible idea; it was very painful. It was offensive to build a 15-story mosque looking down on the sacred ground at Ground Zero.
The Japanese have never asked to build a Shinto shrine at Pearl Harbor. They could. They have the legal right. And even in Auschwitz, when the Carmelite nuns wanted to build a convent and there was grief expressed and outreach expressed, when the pope withdrew the Carmelite convent, it wasn’t because he had to. There was no German law that said you must. It’s because it was the decent thing to do. And that’s what this is. This is a human-compassion issue. And I find it difficult to believe that we’re being told that it’s a mosque of healing.
Well, it’s had the opposite effect, and so if it really was about healing and building bridges, then you would withdraw the mosque. …
The people who are for it say: “Well, look, it’s not on Ground Zero, and it’s not a mosque. It’s a community center with a prayer space.”
Well, a prayer space is a mosque, so it’s a mosque with amenities. It’s an Islamic center. It’s not just a center. It’s an Islamic center.
According to the audio that I ran on my site, Atlas Shrugs, Imam [Feisal] Rauf extols the work of Sheik [Yusuf al-]Qaradawi, so can we expect to hear Sheik Qaradawi preaching his anti-West, his anti-American, his Jew-hating rhetoric from Ground Zero.
[Editor’s Note: Imam Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan say that the opposition has taken statements “completely out of context” and that his “long-record of peace building show a person “who loves peace and loves pluralism and loves community cohesion.”]
As far as it being near Ground Zero, I will say it again: That building was destroyed in the attacks, a $25 million building that was sold for $4.8 million because it was destroyed in the attacks. That building was vacant because it was destroyed in the attacks. It was the Burlington Coat Factory. It was a business. Why was it vacated? Because it was destroyed in the attacks on 9/11.
Is that appropriate to build a mega-mosque? Look, it is an Islamic pattern to build triumphal mosques on the cherished sites of conquered lands. We see this repeatedly. The most obvious, of course, is the Dome of the Rock, built on not just the first King Solomon’s Temple [but] the Second Temple as well, not to the left of it, not to the right of it, right on top of it.
You see it with the St. Sophia [Hagia Sophia in Istanbul], the most extraordinary, the most beautiful, exquisite church in the world, and [there are] how many tens of thousands Hindu temples?
This would be the first mosque of healing ever in the history of Islam. I think it would be far more appropriate if it was really about healing and moving forward to build a shrine to maybe the 270 million victims of jihadi wars, land appropriations, cultural annihilations and enslavements, not build a shrine to the very ideology that inspired the jihadi attacks of 9/11. This is not rocket science.
When you looked around you on May 25, just try and bring the scene alive to me. …
Well, the atmosphere at the May 25 hearing is very electric. It wasn’t aggressive, but it was passionate, Americans from all walks of life. I mean, you had an Egyptian preacher, a Coptic Christian blowing a shofar — not to give a sense of carnival, but severity. You had people from all walks of life, not just 9/11 family members, who I might add the majority of which are vehemently opposed to this mosque — close to 90 percent, according to an internal poll of 9/11 families.
Now, will the opposition find the few and prop them up as some kind of a movement? Yes, of course, because this is the war that we are in. The war is in the information battle space. It’s in the war of ideas, and so they have the major guns. They have the mainstream media.
Without question, the media was very slow coming to this story. They didn’t talk about it at all until tens of thousands of Americans — and according to a CNN poll, 70 percent of the American people opposed the mosque.
And when they were forced to cover it, they didn’t cover it; they shaped it. They attempted to shape the narrative, and even though they were calling 70 percent, millions of Americans racist, Islamaphobic, anti-Muslim bigots, the American people were not deterred, because at my Sept. 11 rally that I organized, the American Freedom Defense Initiative with Robert Spencer, we had 20,000, 30,000 people.
So they were clearly not deterred. And now the media has stopped covering it. So the implied message is: “You see? Nobody cares anymore.” No, the media has put the baby to bed. We are fighting it every single day and will continue to fight, because it’s an ongoing battle. They have not — we have been successful.
We had Imam Rauf and [his wife] Daisy Khan removed, I think because of public pressure. They are still on the board; still, they have moved stage left.
The second imam, Abdullah Adhami, I exposed at Atlas [as] a terrorist sympathizer. [A] very close confidante is [the Brooklyn imam and Muslim Alliance of North America leader] Siraj Wahhaj, who was an incited co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombings, when they first attempted to bring the buildings down and were unsuccessful. He was a character witness for [the “blind cleric” Omar Abdel] Rahman.
… I do not believe that all Muslims believe this. I do not believe that all Muslims believe that a mosque at Ground Zero is a good idea, but again, these are not the voices that you are traditionally hearing. …
Tell me about your blog and how you became a blogger. How did it all start?
Well, it’s interesting, because I really was not political at all. I would say that I was more socially liberal previously.
I wasn’t political because I assumed I lived in a very post-historical age where the good guys won after World War II. That was America. We lived in a world that was protected by America and forces of good, and the USA was the good cop on the block.
It wasn’t until 9/11 that I was mugged by reality, so to speak, where I had no idea. I felt guilty. I didn’t know who had attacked my country.
And then when I found out who attacked my country, I felt guiltier still that I didn’t know who had attacked my country and why. And so I spent a couple of years learning about Islam and jihad and studying Ibn Warraq and Robert Spencer.
You were not finding any of this information out in the media. They were completely absent on this issue. They were scrubbing news accounts of jihad in Thailand, in the Philippines, in Somalia, the jihad pirates in Somalia, Ethiopia — even, you know, Islamic anti-Semitism within the very DNA of Islamic teachings behind the animus towards Israel.
So I was forced really to go to the Internet where there was everything, good and bad. You had to really work to find out credible information, but you could find it.
So I would comment on blogs, and another commenter on a blog sent me a template and said, “You should be blogging.” I’m like, “I don’t know the first thing about blogging.” They’re like, “Just shut up and write.”
I started out with Shrugs because my favorite book, of course, was Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I believe that she is the greatest modern philosopher of our time. … And it wasn’t so much that you had to be Randian to read my blog, because it’s not an Ayn Rand blog. It was that if you read Atlas Shrugged, you would know exactly where I was coming from: that I am an individualist, and my platform speaks to the smallest minority in the world.
So the visual metaphor, if somebody stopped to think, “What would happen if Atlas shrugs?,” well, the world would fall down. The world would fall off his shoulders. So to me, it was [an] example of how I saw what was happening in the world. And I started blogging about events that the media wasn’t covering. I would go to jihad rallies. I would go to anti-Israel rallies. I would go to anti-war rallies where the level of rhetoric was positively vile — Bush as a terrorist with blood coming from his fangs.
The media had absolutely no interest in any of this, which is why it’s interesting. If you put, let’s say, President Obama in a clown face, everybody is screaming treason. It’s interesting, the whole dichotomy of thought and the media.
So I started blogging, and it really grew by word of mouth. There were certain Gutenberg moments. I was a relatively new blogger, and in September there was a Danish newspaper that had run a contest among cartoonists to depict Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. And everybody was afraid to do it, and the gist of my story was — and I had picked it up from a Norwegian blogger — was, “Look at this; they are afraid to draw a cartoon,” which in my mind at the time was quite shocking.
They ran without consequence, of course. The Egyptian newspaper ran them as well in October, and it wasn’t until that December when the Organization of Islamic Conference — a bloc of 56 Muslim countries that, by the way, is largely driving the U.N. now — decided there was going to be a cartoon jihad. Suddenly you saw they’re burning Danish flags; they’re burning embassies; they’re slaughtering people because of some cartoons.
Now, the media wouldn’t run the cartoons, the Western media, in a self-enforced Shariah. Now, what do I mean by that?
Shariah is Islamic law, and in Islam you are not allowed to defame or insult Islam. … So the American media, the Western media and the European media were self-enforcing Shariah, but people wanted to know about these cartoons that were setting embassies ablaze, and people were getting slaughtered in the name of these cartoons.
So I started to get waves of tens of thousands of people who were Googling Danish cartoons. And they were fairly innocuous cartoons, of course. … But that’s how my blog built circulation: covering news that the media would not cover and they continue not to cover. …
But when did the story cross from the blogosphere to the mainstream, and how?
It’s very interesting, because it’s a textbook case. I think it’s the first story that became the number one news story and the number one international news story without the mainstream media.
The first rally had upward of 8,000 to 10,000 people, and there were a number of bloggers and regular folks who took pictures. And one of the photojournalists, El Marco, who has a blog called Looking at the Left, took extraordinary pictures of the event of the crowd of the 9/11 family members holding the pictures of the speakers, and he ran it on his blog. I ran many of his pictures at Atlas, and somebody [who] I don’t know cut and pasted all the pictures and sent it in their e-mail list under “The Mystery Rally.” And it also came in as “The Censored Rally” because the media didn’t cover it.
And that e-mail went viral. I mean, it went so viral that I was getting it from complete strangers in my e-mail box eight to 10 times a day.
And that tells me that all the producers were getting it in their e-mail box, and then they couldn’t ignore it anymore. They couldn’t avoid it anymore, and they had for months and months, so they began to shape the narrative.
Anybody that opposed the mosque was a racist, Islamophobic bigot. Anytime they had me on I was always opposing some front for the Muslim Brotherhood, whether it was the Muslim American Society, whether it was CAIR [Council on American Islamic Relations], which is fine, because I welcomed the opportunity just even if it was 30 seconds to get the message across that everybody in America was thinking. …
So we’re being schooled constantly in this hypersensitivity in the Muslim world, and yet where is the reciprocity? We are constantly being clubbed with mutual respect and mutual understanding. Where’s the mutual? …
This country was attacked in the name of Islam. The world has suffered 16,000, 17,000 Islamic attacks since 9/11, each one with the imprimatur of a Muslim cleric. What’s being done? Where’s the reform? How is it being addressed? These teachings that are in the Quran, that are in the Hadith, what’s being done to expunge them?
Now people say, “Well, you are cherry-picking.” No, I am not, because yes, the early chapters are much more peaceful, but according to Muhammad and Islamic scholars, Islam is abrogated, meaning it — Muhammad said it was revealed, because there were passages that are in direct contradiction to earlier passages, and Muhammad said that the later passages supersede the earlier passages — Islam is revealed, and it’s a progressive religion.
Well, the most violent passages are the last chapters. So what’s being done to address this? I only see obfuscation. I only see people that speak about this as the enemy. I don’t see the jihadists being attacked. I don’t see the extremists being attacked. I don’t see the radicals being attacked.
I don’t see Imam Rauf and his compatriots going after the jihadists. I see them coming after us. Aren’t we supposed to be on the same team?
I find their dismissiveness of the pain and the grief that they’re causing to be radically intolerant.
Do you not think that you’re mixing up two things, your regular Joe American Muslim and your crazy fanatic who flew the plane?
They weren’t crazy; they were devout. And the pious Muslims would consider the Muslims that you are referring to as apostates, which is punishable by death.
I understand that they see things very subjectively, but even the prime minister of Turkey, [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, said when Obama spoke about a moderate Islam, [he] said there is no moderate Islam; there is no extreme Islam; Islam is Islam.
And if you look at the 1,400-year history of Islam, it is always in the name of these same hadiths [collected body of sayings of Muhammad], the same suras [chapters of the Quran], these same Quranic teachings that is responsible for the death of 270 million victims. Look at the Hindus — over 80 million victims. You can’t just discard that kind of mass genocide because one Joe in Lower Manhattan says it’s not so. …
Have you had direct encounters with the people involved in the mosque?
Oh, Daisy [Khan] and Sharif [El-Gamal]? No, I did invite them to debate me and Robert [Spencer] in a forum of their choosing at CPAC [the American Conservative Union], which had 12,000 attendees. They refused.
It’s been my experience that unless the deck is stacked, they will not show up. Again, I find that to be dishonest.
We have seen a pattern of dishonesty with Sharif El-Gamal, Imam Rauf and Daisy Khan, where he says he’s for the Constitution, and yet in his book he extols Shariah law.
I would welcome an open debate with the Ground Zero mosque developer and the religious figures behind it. They’ve been dishonest about the funding, so I do question the motives at this point — not originally, but clearly the American people have spoken. You’ve seen the 9/11 families. Their testimony is heartbreaking. Why do this?
… Muslims that say, “You know that this is not our religion, and this is not who we are,” they’re speaking from their own personal subjectivity. And while I respect that and I encourage individualism, which is completely against the collectivism of Islam — there is no individualism — they are not speaking for the ummah. The ummah is the worldwide Muslim community.
Do we really believe because some imam in Lower Manhattan says that this is a mosque of healing, that the 1.5 billion Muslims across the world are going to see it that way when every single mosque that has ever been built on conquered lands has been just the opposite?
What is it you are hoping to actually achieve, because law in this country says that they have a right on private land to build whatever they choose. That limits your options in terms of stopping the project, doesn’t it?
I believe in the law of the land. I believe in the Constitution. I believe in religious liberty. I fight for it. You don’t see it in Muslim countries; I certainly fight for it here.
This is not a religious-liberties issue. This is not a constitutional issue. I have never once urged or invoked the First Amendment or the government to interfere. … This is a human-decency issue. This is an issue of human compassion.
We’ve been appealing to the imam, and yes, we will continue to apply extraordinary pressure to stop the mosque. It will not be easy. That’s not a threat, and we will never, ever encourage or use anything physical. Or we will just use the information battle space, the war of ideas to urge them to move this mosque.
It’s a bad idea. People are against it. So why do it? Just move a couple of blocks north. It’s not a big deal.
How far away do you think they should move the Ground Zero mosque?
When I am asked how far away should they move the Ground Zero mosque: anywhere else. Anywhere else. Not in a building that was destroyed in the attacks on 9/11 in the name of Islamic supremacism. Not there. Anywhere but there.
I don’t think there is a perimeter, although if you look at the area where human remains were found, I am not even making that case. A 15-story mosque looking down on Ground Zero in a building that was destroyed by the planes in an attack in the name of Islam — anywhere but there. It’s really — it’s crystal clear.
How much further would you think? Two blocks further or three blocks further?
Not that building, not that building. Not in a building that was destroyed, no. And that’s why that building is so critical to them. Otherwise they would have moved it.
That building was conquered, and that’s why they will dig in their heels. You will see. You will see. So many people spoke against it. [There were] so many opportunities to move it and probably cut a better deal.
And now where it’s so outrageous, I need to point out the dishonesty where they are saying it’s not near Ground Zero. It’s not near Ground Zero even though it is Ground Zero.
It’s not near Ground Zero, and yet they’re applying for federal funds, taxpayer dollars from a 9/11 fund for rebuilding Ground Zero. So it’s not Ground Zero when it’s convenient, and it is Ground Zero when it’s convenient. Again, it’s patently dishonest, and it reveals their true agenda yet again.
Their big thing is that we’re building this as an institution to promote an American Islam against radicalism, and therefore we’ll be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
I understand that the radical imam and his wife and Sharif El-Gamal say that this is an example of moderate Islam and that this would help fend off the radicalization of our youth.
I see just the opposite. I think building a 15-story mega-mosque in a building that was destroyed in Ground Zero is a very radical act. It’s the very definition of radicalism. …
Building a giant mosque is going to stop radicalization, and we’re to understand that the jihadis in Muslim countries are going to lay down their arms because we built a 15-story mosque in Ground Zero, the perception of which is conquered land? Again, this defies logic. And we’re supposed to suspend our disbelief.
We can’t do it. There is too much at stake. There is an entire civilization at stake. I see nothing moderate in the building, the erecting of the Cordoba House. There is nothing moderate about it. There is nothing moderate about their relentless pursuit. There is nothing moderate about their uncompromising stand. There is nothing moderate in labeling and smearing all Americans, the 70 percent of Americans that oppose this mosque.
I don’t see anything moderate in Imam Rauf’s books, in his speeches, in his bridge building. I don’t see anything moderate in this entire initiative. So for them to say this is the definition of moderation, I say this: It is the very definition of pure Islam, original Islam, fundamentalist Islam.
Why do you think they are so keen on that location?
I think the reason why they are so keen on this location and this choice of location is — again, you will see a dishonest narrative.
First you have Daisy telling Sally Quinn at The Washington Post that the building came to them, that there was a divine hand, and that it was a coincidence, or Matt Lauer on NBC saying, “In an odd twist of fate the building was destroyed,” when in fact, in the original New York Times story, Imam Rauf says that New York City is the capital of the world, and this location was iconic of 9/11.
So it was chosen for this very reason. Now, I think it’s interesting to point out that this quote of Imam Rauf’s has been scrubbed [from] The New York Times article in December, but we of course we have it. It was cited in so many places online, you can’t really scrub something, but it’s not on the original article now when you go to the link, right, which — yes, seriously — and it’s interesting, too, because when The New York Times was interviewing me for the cover story, I asked, “Why was that quote scrubbed?,” and they said, “Oh, no, it wasn’t.” I said, “Yeah, yeah, it was,” and I showed [them]. They said, “Well, we’re going to find out about that; that’s an interesting question.”
Usually it’s done for editing purposes, for spatial purposes. First of all, online there is no such thing. The page is as long as you make it, as I am sure you know. I know just as a blogger. I am not even a New York Times-sized publication…. But it remains that he said that it was chosen because it was iconic of 9/11.
So now they are saying it was an accident that they chose it. … So when he says that it’s coincidental, I believe that they have chosen this site very deliberately because it is Ground Zero, and the landing gear was in that building for a very long time, and it’s symbolic of Islamic conquest over the West.
And I believe if you build a mosque-trosity there by the name of Cordoba, you invariably are building Mecca on the Hudson. We have every right to reject such an outrage, every right to stand against it.
Do you think the people behind the mosque really approve of what was done on 9/11?
I am not saying that Sharif El-Gamal or Imam Rauf approved of what was done on 9/11, but when Imam Rauf says that Osama bin Laden was made in the USA or that the USA was an accessory to 9/11, or speaks about Muslim grievances, I do believe that there is a sympathy with the agenda of Islamic supremacists when he extols the work of Sheik Qaradawi.
That tells me a lot about Imam Rauf. The fact that they will not negotiate this point, they will not compromise on this when so many Americans are vehemently against it, I think again, by their fruits [ye] shall know them, and so we know them.
And I believe that actions speak louder than words, so I do believe there is a sympathy to the agenda of Islamic supremacists, yes. I am not suggesting that they support the terror of 9/11, but they are certainly not rejecting it by building an Islamic center and mosque on Ground Zero. I don’t see that at all as a rejection of what happened. I see it as just the opposite. I see it as the sanction of what happened and that we should all just deal with it. …
If the faith itself is fundamentally violent and hostile to us, are you saying all Muslims are bad and violent?
No. I believe most Muslims are secular. I don’t believe that most Muslims subscribe to devout fundamentalist Islam by any stretch of the imagination. And we need the secular Muslims to win the battle for the reformation of Islam.
Do I believe that Islam needs a Vatican II, for lack of a better metaphor? Yeah, I do.
And I don’t believe the West will do that. I believe that has to come from within, but we have to raise up the voices of people, particularly people like let’s say Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Wafa Sultan. … Their voices have to be raised and legitimized, not relegated to the fringes, as the media often does. We in the West need to assist. We can’t make it happen by any stretch of the imagination.
But I don’t see the moderates winning. Do you see the moderates winning in Europe? They’ve already conceded and caved to the [Muslim] Brotherhood in Egypt. That’s all they need is one jackboot in the door. Clearly in Israel, clearly in — we’re seeing it in Latin America now. These are deeply troubling developments that the media does not talk about. These are not moderate voices of Islam. …
We’re losing close to a century of advancement and progress, because it is Islam. It’s bigger than a man, [Mustafa Kemal] Ataturk, [the first president of Turkey, who abolished Islamic institutions and laws in an effort to modernize the country in the early 20th century]. It’s bigger than a fellow down at Lower Manhattan. You cannot treat something that you have not properly diagnosed.
So when you talk about secular Muslims, you mean Muslims who don’t go to the mosque.
I mean Muslims that are not devout. I think that most Muslims in the West do not speak Arabic, and they don’t know what they’re saying. Honestly, I don’t know if they have a clue as to just how anti-Semitic Islam is. I mean, there are verse after verse after verse. There are myriad books. A wonderful book by Sir Martin Gilbert, In Ishmael’s House, depicts the treatment. I mean, it’s incomprehensible, the treatment of Jews in Muslim lands over the past 1,400 years.
Christians didn’t have it so good either. I mean, really. But it’s part of the teaching. What’s being done to expunge Islam of Islamic anti-Semitism? There are so many verses.
That’s deeply troubling, the demand for ethnic cleansing. These things are happening. Look at Sudan, how many millions of non-Muslims and moderate Muslims were slaughtered in the name of jihad by the Islamic north. It is a victory that southern Sudan has voted in the past month for independence from the north. It is to me astounding — and again, this was a Bush initiative — we must give credit where credit is due — to free southern Sudan from the oppressive Islamic north.
That was jihad. It’s jihad. What’s being done except soft-scrubbing, whitewashing and pretending that it doesn’t exist as people are slaughtered and churches are burned and countries are taken over?
This stuff doesn’t happen in America, does it?
It’s happening differently. Their approach to every country is different. Clearly we have been infiltrated at the Department of Defense, where you have the Fort Hood jihadi who mowed down 13 soldiers [in] the largest attack on a U.S. military base in U.S. history; the Fort Hood jihadi, where the Department of Defense refused to name religious motivation in their investigation and their final report. Maj. [Nidal Malik] Hasan, the perpetrator, was screaming, “Allahu akbar!” Maj. Hassan came out as a jihadi on ground rounds. He made a PowerPoint presentation that I use when I am speaking because it’s such a succinct, small and perfect little document explaining jihad.
So we have been infiltrated at the senior level of the DoD, the Department of State, where [they are] importing whole Muslim communities from Somalia, and the executive branch.
And we do see a masking of the workplace, where companies are being sued to institute Muslim prayer times in union contracts, and non-Muslim workers don’t want it because they have to lengthen their day, or a worker being fired from Rising Star Industries in Florida because she was eating a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich in the company cafeteria. It wasn’t a Muslim company, but it was halal [food permissible under Islamic law].
So you have spaces in public schools being set aside for Muslim prayer. You have the U.S. Treasury Department giving seminars in Shariah finance a week after they nationalized the banks.
And yes, I have a problem with Shariah finance, because, again, the investments have to be halal. Why I have a problem with that [is] because 10 percent has to go to zakat, which is charity [that] many times fund jihad. Many of these Islamic charities we find time and time again are funding jihad. …
So this is what I mean by the separation of mosque and state. This is what I mean by the encroaching Shariah. This is how Islam is approaching this country. …
So where is the space for decent, law-abiding Muslims if they want to practice their religion?
Decent, law-abiding Muslims can and do live everywhere. There are hundreds of mosques in New York City. There are thousands of mosques in America. We have no issue with that.
Now, are there mosques that we have protested? Absolutely. When a group that is known to be a Muslim Brotherhood front group or has ties to terror or they are building a giant mosque on a tiny tree-lined neighborhood where there [are] no churches and no synagogues and no businesses, people have a right in America to determine the complexion — and I don’t mean skin complexion; I mean urban complexion — of their neighborhood: that if it is a residential neighborhood, it stays a residential neighborhood; that they don’t want problems, let’s say, with a lot of traffic, or parking has not been allocated for a certain kind of a building. And frankly, just the opposite happens in America, where they will stop a store, they will stop a church, but they won’t stop a mosque, because, you know, we don’t want to insult or defame Islam. So I find the opposite happening. …
Is this a global war?
It is a global war. This is a global war. This is not a national war. This is a clash of civilizations. [As] much as everybody hates to say it, it is a clash of civilizations. These are two directly opposed systems, much like communism and capitalism was a clash.
Clearly constitutional republic’s democracy versus Islam is individualism — which is what capitalism is — versus collectivism.
And that’s what the clash is. The fact that it has a religious beard is problematic because we respect religion. You can worship a stone; just don’t stone me with it.
That’s my line. That’s my line in the sand. I don’t care what your religion is. I don’t care what you worship. Frankly, I don’t, but if you seek to impose it upon me or impose its system of governance, then I’m going to fight you to the death.
Are there any large Muslim organizations here in America that are not linked to the Muslim Brotherhood?
No. That’s how bad it is. But I do believe that true radical reform, the ones that want reform will be individuals, because it will be individuals that save the day. And frankly, I am very hopeful, because if history has taught us anything, it’s that the individual can change the course of human events.
So, as to the big organizations? No. The established organizations? The Islamic Society of North America? Absolutely not. …
What’s the importance of the 9/11 family members to your campaign?
First of all, let me say that [on] 9/11, we were all 9/11 family members. They just took the hit for us, but they did take the hit. Their pain is far more acute and real, and their visceral response to this Ground Zero mosque I think articulates the American heart.
And for us, look, 9/11 was not about Lower Manhattan. 9/11, the Ground Zero mosque, is not a New York issue; it’s a national issue. This country was attacked by Islamic supremacist forces that have been doing this across the world, and it was the country that was attacked.
But they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unlike a conventional war, where your soldiers go off to war and your men and women in battle fight the battle, these are our soldiers, the doctors, the lawyers, the stockbrokers, the caregivers, the waiters, the waitresses, the foodstuff.
These were our soldiers, so I think many of us feel that we are the 9/11 family members, and I think they are important. I think their voices should be heard, and I do try to, even with the screenings of the film, I want them heard, particularly their sentiments on the 9/11 museum and memorial which with each development we hear is more insulting and more egregious, and of course it’s not lost on me. …
So I do feel a special kinship with many members of the 9/11 families. They are very brave, and I think what’s also lost on all of us is that we don’t let these people grieve. We don’t let them mourn.
Every day it’s another fight they have to have. It’s another action they have to take. It’s another battle. It’s another insult. It’s another slam on to the memory of their loved one.
Nobody ever talks about that. We are constantly being schooled that what we are saying might be perceived as insensitive to Muslims.
Can’t we leave them alone? I mean, they have to sleep outside in the street in protest to get their family members’ names on street level, incredible outrages that the American people, through the world, are completely unaware of because the media doesn’t deem it news or important or necessary. As one family member said, “They’ve just got your money; now shut up and go home.” I think it’s really egregious.
I think the shabby treatment of the 9/11 family members for the past nine years gave some sanction to the idea of a Ground Zero mosque as if, “Listen, nobody cares about it anyway.” Well, we care about them. …
Are you manipulating the 9/11 families?
My enemies would say I use the 9/11 families. For what end? To save America? I don’t know how I am using them. I hope and I pray that I am giving them a platform. I am giving them somewhere to speak, because if that is the one thing that they’ve told me, it’s that finally somebody is listening.
And certainly even when I am doing screenings, when people want to see the screenings, and they want me to come speak — they’re not asking for 9/11 family members to come speak — I will forego or even eat my own travel to get a 9/11 family member there. …
I think that the Ground Zero mosque story has been used to demonize me, marginalize me, smear me, libel me, defame me. It’s astounding how I have been demonized to make the whole mosque about Pamela Geller. So if you get rid of Pamela Geller, you get rid of the mosque. So again, this is just my enemies doing what they do best: evil.
Do you think that you helped generate so much publicity for the Ground Zero mosque that it’s made it more likely to happen?
If I have made the Ground Zero mosque — and I think that’s debatable — a global cause, then I want that on my tombstone. I would be quite happy. …
They’d hoped to slide this under the radar. They’d hoped to build this mosque, that nobody would speak out, that nobody would fight back. That’s like Imam Rauf saying if we don’t build the Ground Zero mosque, we don’t know what the terrorists will do.
So that’s an implied threat. So now it’s not about healing. Now we have to build the mosques; we have to build the Ground Zero mosque, or they’re going to attack us.
Well, you know what? Oh, and it gets even better. He says, “And I’m standing in between you and the terrorists.” Well, you know what I would say to Imam Rauf? “Get out of the way,” OK? Because these are all deliberate manipulations to pervert and twist the truth, and I’m proud to have had a role in bringing the Ground Zero mosque to the national and the international landscape. I am very, very proud of that. …
Do you not think that by attacking the Ground Zero mosque project you are undermining the very values which the terrorists will attack?
Yeah, the very idea that by attacking the Ground Zero mosque that we’re attacking the very values that America embodies is once again an intellectually dishonest argument.
Those standing in opposition to the Ground Zero mosque are standing in defense of freedom, in defense of liberty and in defense of American values, which is, by the way, common decency and human compassion.
How is building a mosque at Ground Zero on Ground Zero in defense of American liberty? I don’t see that at all. I see it as a victory shrine because America was attacked. …
I know you don’t have an inside track into the Ground Zero mosque operation, but how did they handle last summer’s crisis?
In terms of how they handled the opposition, understand that they had all of the big guns, so they had The New York Times; they had The Washington Post; they had NBC; they had CBS. So they were using this platform, this megaphone, this enormous platform to say that they’re all for healing and that they’re all for tolerance — all the things, by the way, that they are not practicing.
They are not practicing tolerance. They are not practicing healing. They are not practicing mutual respect. They are not practicing mutual understanding. But they would get on them unchallenged by Katie Couric, unchallenged by Matt Lauer, unchallenged by 60 Minutes, and act like the sun was shining. It didn’t fly, and nobody bought it. Nobody bought it, but it is a free country, and we don’t have a legal right to stop the mosque, even though, by the way, we see that New York City government does this whenever they want. …
So the idea that they don’t stop and this is all individual rights and property rights is, again, it’s a lie, but that’s how — that’s not how I would think that this should go down. I would think that somebody would wake up and say: “This is causing an enormous amount of pain. This is causing an enormous amount of grief. Let’s withdraw it.” And oh, what goodwill. What goodwill that would generate. But I don’t think it’s about goodwill. I don’t think it has anything to do with goodwill. They’re on a mission from Allah, and they mean to accomplish it.
And they may very well build it, but I can tell you right now it will be a battle; it will be a fight. And of course it will be Mecca on the Hudson, and you will have jihadis coming from all over the world. …
I believe that the Cordoba Mosque at Ground Zero will replace the burning towers of as a symbol of Islamic jihad and Islamic supremacism. That will become the icon in every jihadi website, on every Islamic supremacist website, on every arm of those seeking to impose Islam on the non-Muslim world. … That’s not perversion; that’s a fact.
What did you make of President Obama’s intervention?
I was very disappointed when President Obama intervened in the Ground Zero mosque, and I was very disappointed because, first of all, he stayed out of it for so long. So if you’re going to stay out of it, stay out of it.
And then to frame it in such a patently dishonest way, to say that we have freedom of religion here, and we are free to pray, of course, of course they’re free to pray. There are hundreds of mosques in this city; there are thousands of mosques in America. Everybody knows this is not a religious-liberties issue.
Everybody knows this is an issue of Islamic supremacism. Ask anybody in America, walk down any street in America and say, “What do you think of a Ground Zero mosque?,” and you will see that people are appalled.
What’s interesting for me is that people that would never ordinarily agree with me or align themselves with me or say, “Geller is right,” [are] saying, “She’s right,” saying it is offensive; it is deeply insulting; it is deliberately provocative.
Look at the pain and look at the disharmony and look at the disunity that the Ground Zero mosque has caused. That is a reality. That’s a fact. So how could you sit up in some ivory tower and say that it’s about harmony and it’s about healing when the opposite effect is what it’s generated? So again, more dishonesty.
What’s your message to Sharif El-Gamal?
“Why there? Why there?” I would appeal; it was the first thing that I did. It was the petition that we wrote: “We appeal to the humanity of El-Gamal and Daisy and Rauf. Please not there.”
Not there: That would be it. We don’t have to debate Islam; we don’t have to debate ideology. You can do whatever you want. You can pray to whatever you want; it’s perfectly fine. Just don’t impose it upon me.
And don’t build monuments at the site of the very worst attack in the name of Islam in U.S. history. Don’t do it. Don’t.