Donald Trump hammers organizer of draw-Muhammed contest and says 'she's just taunting everybody' as free-speech debate grows following Texas shooting
- Real estate titan tells Fox News that the organizer of 'Draw Muhammad' contest was courting danger and 'insulting everybody'
- 'What is she doing? And why is she doing it?' he asked about Pam Geller following the attempted murder of a police officer outside the event
- 'They can't do something else? They have to be in the middle of Texas, doing something on Muhammad?'
- Geller, a controversial crusader against Islamist radicals, claimed killing opponents of Islam 'is OK with members of the elite media, and academia'
- 'I'm not responsible for the violence conducted by others,' she insisted
Donald Trump suggested Monday morning that the organizer of a 'Muhammad Art Exhibit' and a 'Draw Muhammad' contest near Dallas, Texas bears some responsibility for a shooting that wounded a school police officer outside the event.
Event security shot dead two armed suspects who were thought to be carrying explosives, after the suspects opened fire.
Trump appeared on the Fox News Channel's 'Fox and Friends' program less than ten hours later and condemned Pam Geller, the event's planner – saying that her 'prior' advocacy shows she antagonizes radical Muslims.
'I watched Pam, prior, and it looks like she's just taunting everybody,' Trump declared.
'What is she doing, with drawing Muhammad? And it looks like she's actually taunting people.'
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'Isn't there something else they can draw?' Donald Trump appeared on 'Fox and Friends' Monday morning via telephone
Pam Geller said during the same broadcast that she is 'not responsible for the violence conducted by others'
In January this crowd gathered outside the same Texas venue that hosted Sunday's event, protesting against an 'Honor the Prophet' conference held in response to the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris, France
Police and FBI investigators collect evidence, including a rifle, where the two gunmen were shot dead, after their bodies were removed in Garland, Texas on Monday
'And it's disgusting that it's happening, and everything else, but why are they ... drawing Muhammad? Isn't there something else they can draw?'
Geller, who leads the controversial American Freedom Defense Initiative, appeared on the same broadcast to defend herself and her organization.
'We entered a new era last night,' she said, 'because this wasn't Paris or Copenhagen. This was Texas.'
'There were 300 freedom lovers in that audience ... and the winner of the drawing contest who was a former Muslim.'
Geller hinted that she held the event in response to killings in Europe over the public depiction of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, whom Islam dictates must never be drawn or painted.
'Are we to believe if something offends you, if something insults you, that we should go out and kill people and that way we can get our way?' she asked.
Geller washed her hands of the bloodshed outside.
Winner: Artist Bosh Fawstin (left) is presented with a check for $12,500 by Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders (center) and Pamela Geller (right) during a ceremony just before shots rang out
Donald Trump, seen with wife Melania at the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao boxing match on Saturday, is considering a run for president
'I'm not responsible for the violence conducted by others,' she said.
Trump, however, positioned himself as more practical and less enthusiastic about taking ideological leaps.
'They can't do something else? They have to be in the middle of Texas, doing something on Muhammad and insulting everybody?' he boomed
'And it's disgusting what happened and we have to be very strong, but it looks to me like she's somebody that is just taunting them.'
'And you know, I'm one that believes in free speech, probably more than she does,' Trump continued.
'But what's the purpose of this? So she's taunting them. She's – probably, it's risky for her. I don't know – maybe she likes risk. But what the hell is she doing, and what is the purpose of it?'
Pamela Geller, co-founder and President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, spoke at Sunday's event just before the two gunmen opened fire
Geller's contest offered a five-figure prize to the artist who created the best cartoon or caricatured depiction of Muhammad.
Security guard Bruce Joiner was shot in the leg while standing outside the building. His injuries were not life-threatening
Followers of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) began calling online for an attack more than a week before the competition.
'We know the risks,' Geller wrote on her group's website in March, noting that '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,' she wrote, 'it is no exaggeration to say that all will be lost.'
Geller has become known for taking provocative positions and using an in-your-face strategy to give them voice – a gambit that Trump referred to when he noted her 'prior' communications efforts.
Two weeks ago a federal judge ruled that the agency which operates public transportation in New York City was powerless to ban her group's advertisements, including one showing a man wearing a scarf covering his face along with the words, 'Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah.'
The American Freedom Defense Initiative attributes the remark to 'Hamas MTV.'
The sign's slogan: 'That’s his Jihad. What’s yours?'
Killed: FBI crime scene investigators and medical examiners take away the bodies of the two killed gunmen outside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas on Monday. Police killed the two men after they opened fire at an anti-Islam event on Sunday
Shot dead: Elton Simpson, pictured, was one of the two gunmen who stormed an anti-Islam event on Sunday evening in Texas
The anti-Islam advertisements still might get the boot, as the transit authority ponders banning all messaging that expresses 'a viewpoint.'
AFDI has previously run similar ads on buses in Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. In each instance, widespread opposition accompanied the ad campaign.
Through a spokesperson, Trump declined further comment on Monday afternoon.
The multi-billionaire is exploring the possibility of making a run for the White House.
He could single-handedly fund his own campaign, giving him a leg up if he can come up with a message with broad appeal among Republicans.
So far five GOP hopefuls have entered the race, including senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio; former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina; and retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
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