Gellar threatened by jihadist Tweeter after Graham calls for civility

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
Pamela Gellar, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, shows off the group's controversial advertisement after a judge rules the signs' message is protected under the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution. | AFDI via

WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) -- While assassination attempts and rampant death threats appear to fuel blogger Pamela Gellar's anti-Islamic activism, a prominent evangelical leader questions whether her banner of free-speech could be waved with a little more civility.

Last week, Gellar was forced to ramp-up security to protect her from Islamic extremists after multiple attempts on her life by Islamic State supporters in the U.S. Now, her already steep $30,000 monthly security costs could increase even more due to "additional security arrangements," made when a British jihadist initiated a call to kill her via Twitter with the hashtag #GoForth.

In May, Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelism Association and Samaritans' Purse, said Christian Americans should take a stand against that which is wrong in the world, but how they stand is something to consider. 

In Geller's case, an escalation of activities and social media war resulted in the tweet, which included her New York City apartment address. It reportedly was sent June 12 from an account connected to Abu Hussain al-Britani, a known Islamic State leader. The Twitter account has since been suspended, but according to Gellar, there have been numerous subsequent tweets calling for her death.

"In the passed four weeks we have seen not one but two deadly assassination attempts because I'm violating these blasphemy laws under the Sharia (laws)," Gellar said. She added that Islamic extremists seek to make an example of her.

"Islamic jihadist wish to kill me to set an example that if Americans do not submit to the blasphemy laws under the Sharia they too will be targeted to death. This is not about me, this is about standing up for freedom and the first amendment."

Gellar is known for her outspoken work as president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an organization deemed a Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. AFDI was responsible for organizing a "Draw the Prophet" event in Garland, Texas in May where participants competed for a prize by drawing the Mohammed. The contest was in response to the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, France after their depictions of Islam's founder ran in the satirical publication.

ISIS claimed credit for a failed attempt on Geller's life at the art event and some reports indicate she was the original target of a recent beheading plot in Boston before the assailant, 26-year-old Usaamah Rahim, instead turned his aim at police. Rahim was shot and killed by police.

Despite the threats and having to bring security into the day-to-day aspects of her life, Gellar told Fox's On the Record she would "not be intimidated into silence."

"I'm certainly not going to back off," she said. "I don't want to die but I will not live as a slave."

Doing so would contradict the foundation principles of our nation and be a type of surrender, she said.

"The first amendment is actually an anti-blasphemy law. Our founders were fleeing religious persecution. This is elemental. This is the corner stone of this democracy. and it wont end with the first amendment. There is a long list of demands that Jihadist have. This is the line in the sand. This is where we must take a stand."


Graham, in an interview with Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" after the Garland event, said although he disagreed with Islam, mocking the faith demonstrates the same lack of civility as shooting someone for doing so.

"We live in a society where there is no civility, there is no respect," Graham said. "We don't honor people who have differences, we only attack each other."

Discouraged by the readiness from both sides to physically and verbally attack those with an opposing view, Graham suggested it is better to show respect and civility.

"We are a nation made up of many different faiths, people of different races. We need to respect one another," Graham said.

"As a Christian, I believe Jesus Christ is the son of God who died for my sins and rose from the grave and he'll come into every heart who is willing to believe and trust in Him," Graham said. "That's my faith. But for those that believe differently, I'm not going to mock them."