Last month, the American Freedom Defense Initiative announced its first annual American Freedom Defense Initiative Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest, to be held on May 3 in the Dallas area to show that we will defend free speech and not give in to violent intimidation.
Now, in light of the huge number of submissions of Muhammad cartoons that we have received, we have decided to give a second prize: the People’s Choice Award.
The contest is already underway online, and winning entries will be posted at the AFDI website. The winning cartoon will be announced at the May 3 cartoon exhibit in Garland. The winning cartoonist will be awarded a $10,000 prize. And now, due to the high number of submissions we have received, and the increasing pressure from Muslim groups to impose sharia restrictions on speech (a Muslim group is now seeking to have cartoons of Muhammad declared “hate speech”), we are adding a $2,500 People’s Choice Award. Those who attend our Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest will vote on the top entries. If the winner our judges have selected is different from the winner by the people, the People’s Choice winner will receive $2,500.
The keynote speaker at our Texas event will be Dutch freedom fighter and Parliamentarian Geert Wilders – one of the very few politicians on the international scene who dares the speak the truth about the jihadist threat. Also speaking will be my AFDI colleague, Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, and other freedom fighters. The cartoon exhibit will feature images of Islam’s prophet, both historic and contemporary.
The exhibit will be held at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland on Sunday, May 3. This was the site of a Muslim conference denouncing “Islamophobia” — an obscene stand for them to take after the Charlie Hebdo massacre – and our massive Free Speech Rally outside that event. The Muslim event was held in a hall owned by the local school district. When asked why they allowed that event on their premises, they answered that their hall was open to anyone who wished to rent it. So we are renting it for our Muhammad Cartoon Exhibit.
The Cartoon Exhibit was a logical next step following AFDI’s Free Speech Rally in Garland. This new event will stand for free speech and show that Americans will not be cowed by violent Islamist intimidation. That is a crucial stand to take as Islamist assaults on the freedom of speech, our most fundamental freedom, are growing more insistent.
After the Charlie Hebdo massacre – and after the violent Muhammad cartoon riots a few years ago – there should have been Cartoon Exhibits all over the free world, to show the jihadists and their stealth allies in groups that are doing all they can to intimidate the West into abandoning the freedom of speech) that we will not kowtow to violent intimidation. But there were no such exhibits. The free world was ready to submit.
But we aren’t. We know the risks. Of course, this event will require massive security. But this exhibit has to be staged. If we don’t show the jihadists that they will not frighten us into silence, the jihad against freedom will only grow more virulent.
And we hope that this event will give others the courage to stand up as well and show the world that they aren’t going to submit to intimidation. Otherwise, it is no exaggeration to say that all will be lost.
That’s because the freedom of speech is already under severe attack. Several weeks ago, an Islamic jihadist murdered one person and wounded three, firing multiple shots at an event entitled “Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression” at the Krudttoenden cafe in Copenhagen, featuring Muhammad cartoonist Lars Vilks and Francois Zimeray, the French ambassador to Denmark.
Also recently, a Muslim mob in Pakistan that was protesting against the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Muhammad forced open the gates of a Christian school, smashed windows, destroyed property, and demanded that the school be closed. This followed demonstrations in which tens of thousands of Muslims in Pakistan demanded that the West adopt Sharia blasphemy laws. Hundreds of thousands demonstrated against free speech in Chechnya. Muslim mobs in Niger set 45 churches on fire in their rage against the actions.
Meanwhile, a carnival in Germany canceled plans for a Charlie Hebdo float. A cartoon museum in Belgium canceled plans for a Charlie Hebdo tribute. An art museum in Paris removed an artwork from exhibit after Muslim threats. This stunning cowardice proves, yet again, that it hardly ends with cartoons. It begins there. The West is giving these savages the ultimate power over us. They seek to control what we say, what we think, and how we live.
And we are giving them that power.
These supremacists need to be held to account, and the West has to stop this pathetic cowardice and submission to barbarity. Islamists have to stop imposing repression on the non-Muslim and secular Muslim world. Enough is enough. They’re just cartoons. Are we going to stand idle while psychopaths who would commit murder because of them frighten the free world into giving up the freedom of speech, the cornerstone of a free society?
It’s time to stand up.
Pamela Geller is the President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), publisher of PamelaGeller.com and author of The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America and Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance. Follow her on Twitter here. Like her on Facebook here.