Reacting to reports that the Obama Department of Justice may prosecute those who write and post articles offensive to Muslims, Pamela Geller of the American Freedom Defense Initiative has vowed, “We will fight you on this every step of the way. We will drag your dhimmi asses all the way to the Supreme Court. This is Sharia enforcement, and we are not going to stand for it.”
The term “dhimmi” refers to submission to or enforcement of Islamic law, also called Sharia.
Geller, who also co-founded Stop Islamization of Nations (SION) with Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, has endorsed a rally for free speech on June 4 in Manchester, Tennessee, to protest anti-free speech comments by Bill Killian, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee.
Killian has generated outrage by vowing to use federal civil rights laws to punish those making critical comments about Islam.
A local paper reports that Killian and Kenneth Moore, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Knoxville, Tennessee, Division, are speaking at a public event and “will provide input on how civil rights can be violated by those who post inflammatory documents targeted at Muslims on social media.”
A U.S. Attorney usually prosecutes offenses such as foreign terrorism, child pornography, violent crimes and drug trafficking. But Killian told the local paper that civil rights laws can have certain “consequences” for the First Amendment right of free speech. The paper said, “Killian said Internet postings that violate civil rights are subject to federal jurisdiction.”
Killian is apparently basing this campaign against free speech on a Facebook post from a local politician showing a picture of a man pointing a shotgun at the camera with the phrase, “How to wink at a Muslim.” The local politician is a Democrat who says he intended it to be humorous.
The American Muslim Advisory Council, which denounced the “hate-filled post,” advertises the June 4 event as being about “public discourse in a free society.” It is scheduled for 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center, 147 Hospitality Boulevard in Manchester, Tennessee.
The demonstration for free speech is scheduled for 5:30 pm at the same location. “Change your plans, get off from work—go,” Geller says. “Tweet it, Facebook share, get the word out.”
The Killian address is apparently part of an “Arab American and Muslim Outreach Program” conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the local office of the FBI, and mandated by President Obama’s and Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice.
Killian’s official website also highlights a keynote address he delivered on August 25, 2012, when the Chattanooga (Tennessee) Islamic Center hosted a grand opening celebration. The center features “Strong Islamic studies,” a term that implies Sharia.
But radical Islam does not appear to be a potential problem for Killian. Instead, his office officially represents the United States in civil litigation and declares “we sue individuals or entities who have violated federal civil laws,” according to Killian’s official newsletter.
In the context of his warnings about posting comments critical of Muslims, this statement takes on ominous implications and must be treated seriously.
A wealthy former adjunct professor in trial advocacy at the University of Tennessee School of Law, he is clearly a showboat who wants to please his bosses in Washington, D.C. He is featured in eight photos in his official 12-page newsletter and has been described by a local paper as “a longtime Democrat.”
In an article about Killian’s anti-free speech efforts, the conservative legal group Judicial Watch comments, “In its latest effort to protect followers of Islam in the U.S., the Obama Justice Department warns against using social media to spread information considered inflammatory against Muslims, threatening that it could constitute a violation of civil rights.”
Exercising her own First Amendment rights, Geller, the founder, editor and publisher of AtlasShrugs.com, is strongly urging “every Atlas reader, twitter and Facebook friend who can be in Tennessee to join us” for the demonstration for free speech.
“Don’t think that this is just going to go away,” she warns. “They have declared war on our very freedoms. While we still have freedom of speech, we must use it.” She urges the public to bring free speech signs to the event.
In a story on the controversy, Politico quotes Floyd Abrams, one of the country’s most respected First Amendment attorneys, as saying about Killian: “He’s just wrong. The government may, indeed, play a useful and entirely constitutional role in urging people not to engage in speech that amounts to religious discrimination. But it may not, under the First Amendment, prevent or punish speech even if it may be viewed as hostile to a religion. And what it most clearly may not do is to stifle political or social debate, however rambunctious or offensive some may think it is.”
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.