Last night, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) held its “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest” in the Curtis Curwell Convention Center in Garland and, just as the event was about to end, two men drove up to the center and shot at it, hitting a security guard in the ankle. Within seconds, police shot and killed the shooters.
The exhibition, billed as a free speech event, was the brainchild of political blogger and AFDI president Pamela Geller. Organizers say they received more than 350 art entries and that the event was attended by 200 people, which Geller considered “sold out.” The keynote speaker was Geert Wilders, a far-right Dutch politician, well known for his anti-Islamist views. The contest featured a grand prize of $10,000, and a people’s choice award of $2,500 prize. Both prizes were awarded to Albanian-American cartoonist Bosch Fawstin, who was raised Muslim but now says he worships at the church of Ayn Rand.
Alia Salem, head of the Dallas chapter of the Council on Islamic Relations explained to the Daily Beast that she had “passionately urged” Muslims to ignore Geller, as did many other Muslim leaders. While organizers said it paid more than $10,000 for off-duty police officers and other private security, no protesters showed up before the two shooters, who were from Phoenix.
But CNN reports that Geller said the shooting won’t deter her group from hosting similar events in the future, stating, “I will not abridge my freedoms so as not to offend savages.”