Free speech gets last word: ‘Draw Muhammad’ billboards pop up across nation

Billboards featuring the winning entry from the “Draw Muhammad” contest in Garland, Texas, are showing up across the nation.

Artist Bosch Fawstin’s winning entry to the event that gained national attention after two Islamic terrorists were killed by police while trying to attack it, was posted on 100 billboards in the St. Louis area on Monday.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative, the group responsible for both the contest and the billboards, said it would soon expand the campaign to other states.

AFDI President, Pamela Geller said the advertisements are needed because the media is continuing to “self-enforce the Sharia” by censoring the picture in publications and newscasts, according to a news release she wrote at Breitbart.com.

“Speech that is offensive to some must not be curtailed, but protected,” she wrote. “Freedom of speech is the foundation of a free society.”

Despite widespread anger in the Muslim community, and threats of more violence against AFDI, Geller defended the campaign.

“Violence that arises over the cartoons is solely the responsibility of the Islamic jihadists who perpetrate it,” she wrote.

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Many critics have suggested that AFDI’s campaign to publicize the cartoon of Muhammad is irresponsible and will only provoke more attacks like the one that took place in Garland. Robert Spencer, the group’s vice president, dismissed these concerns, saying Islamic extremists are “already provoked.”

Geller said the broader point is too important to lose sight of.

“There is nothing about this cartoon that incites violence,” she said. “It is within the established American tradition of satire. If America surrenders on this point, then freedom of speech is a relic of history.”

Michael Schaus

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