It’s been over half a decade since Pamela Geller, one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes, organized a protest in her hometown of New York.
Back then, it was to screech about the potential development of an Islamic Center in lower Manhattan she dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque.” Her return to organized protests came on May 25 when she called out City University of New York (CUNY) for inviting Women’s March co-organizer Linda Sarsour to speak at the schools 2017 graduation ceremony.
Geller started off the events by calling Sarsour a “pro-terror, vicious anti-Semite.” Joining her, as rain pelted 43rd Street, was a chorus of white nationalists, anti-government activists and a range of other bigots. The assembled crowd of around 200 cheered on the tirade of anti-Muslim rhetoric spouted by the speakers Geller invited to join her on a makeshift stage mounted on the back of a pickup truck.
First off was New York State Assemblyman Don Hikind who set the tone for the two-hour event. “Ladies and gentleman, lets get something very, very clear. Linda Sarsour supports terrorism! Linda Sarsour supports terrorism!”
Anti-Muslim activist and contributor to the far-right American Thinker blog Lauri Regan was next to speak and attempted to link Sarsour to the horrific bombing in Manchester earlier this week, stating “An attack that I might add that people like Linda Sarsour likely supported because it lead to the murder of infidels and non-Sharia abiding innocents.” Regan, who is Jewish, also attacked the Jewish community for “fight[ing] to import tens of thousands of Syrian refugees,” and compared Palestinians to Nazis stating, “The sickness known as Nazi Germany is rearing its ugly head under the guise of pro-Palestinian movements.”
Disgraced ex-FBI agent turned anti-Muslim police trainer John Guandolo was next to take the stage. Guandolo was dismissed from the FBI for a number of ethical breaches and bizarre conduct which included admitting to having affairs with female FBI agents and a confidential source he was assigned to protect. He now trains law enforcement on the how to root out “jihadi networks” in the area, through his group Understanding the Threat. In his speech, Guandolo peddled anti-Muslim conspiracy theories including claiming that the most popular textbook at Islamic schools across the New York and the U.S. tells students that it is “obligatory to wage jihad until the entire world is under Islamic rule.”
Geller’s event also included speeches from Nonie Darwish an Egyptian-born anti-Arab activist on the anti-Muslim circuit often touted as an “expert” on Islam, and David Wood of the anti-Muslim hate group Acts 17 Apologetics, a man who has put out videos with titles like, “Scrubbing Mohammad’s Semen Stains” and “Mohammad Was a Sex Addict.” Darwish, like many of the other speakers made insidious claims including saying Linda Sarsour “wants” to give up her children “to die killing Jews” and that, “she wants to bring Sharia to America.”
Geller also read a statement from former Ambassador John Bolton, head of the anti-Muslim Gatestone Institute in which he called Linda Sarsour an “anti-Semite.”
The keynote speaker at the event was serial misogynist and anti-Muslim bigot Milo Yiannopolous. Milo also linked Linda Sarsour to the Manchester bomber, stating, “This week another Muslim loser, a friend of Linda’s probably, strapped a bomb to his chest in Manchester and murdered over 20 people including children. Does Linda Sarsour in her dark heart approve of this senseless atrocity? If she feels any remorse at all, maybe its for the Muslim grooming gangs in Pakistan and child rapists who have 20 fewer victims this week.”
About 15 counter-protesters were there to specifically protest Milo, chanting and blowing whistles during his remarks. The counter-protesters engaged in shouting matches with the Geller supporters throughout the two-hour affair.
Providing perimeter security for the event, in addition to scores of NYPD officers, was a half-dozen individuals wearing “Warriors for Freedom” shirts. Some also had patches on their jackets indicating they were three percenters or III%, a strain of Patriot thought that vows to resist, with violence if necessary, overreach by the government especially when it portends to firearms. Anti-government groups have provided security at anti-Muslim events in the past.
The crowd was split between older folks and a few millennials, with many of both camps sporting Make America Great Again hats. One man held a sign with a picture of Pepe the frog, which the alt-right movement has adopted as its mascot. Another brandished a Kek flag. One attendee held signs saying “Islam Sharia = Death” complete with a picture of a severed head. Another sign read, “Stop Islamic Jihad Against People of the Book.” A third simply read, “Jew Hater Sarsour.” Shouts of “I am a proud Islamophobe” could be heard from one fervent Geller supporter, who also loudly and repeatedly referred to a female counter-protester as “pussy.” Somewhere in the cacophonous mix was Mike Peinovich who goes by the name Mike Enoch. Peinovich runs the blog TheRightStuff and was surrounded by a small entourage, one of whom was holding an umbrella to shelter the racist and neo-Nazi from the elements.
Protesting at universities is a tactic often used by the anti-Muslim movement. Anti-Muslim groups like ACT for America and the David Horowitz Freedom Center have targeted professors and students, especially those active in Muslim Student Associations and attempted to link them to terrorist organizations. Geller’s soggy yet vociferous protest against CUNY is just the latest example of this practice.