Mon Oct 18, 4:05 AM
By Merita Ilo, The Canadian Press
TORONTO - The controversial Ground Zero mosque in New York and Campbell's Canadian-made tomato soup have nothing in common, one would think.
Yet they're being stirred in the same pot by some conservative bloggers in the U.S., who say Islamic terrorists are behind both projects.
Pamela Geller, who runs a widely read anti-Muslim site called Atlas Shrugs, is calling for a boycott of some 15 soups made by the Canadian subsidiary of New Jersey-based Campbell Soup Co..
The soups are certified as halal food, meaning they're prepared according to Islamic dietary laws.
Sold in Canada, the soups are certified by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which has been certifying halal foods since 1988.
But Geller claims ISNA has ties to terrorist groups, including Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
"No one is suggesting they not have halal food. I'm not against halal food any more than I'm against kosher food. My issue is who's doing the certifying," Geller told The Washington Post Sunday.
A number of conservative groups, including JihadWatch.org, have joined Geller's call for the soup boycott. A Facebook page called Boycott Campbell Soup counted more than 3,500 members as of Sunday night.
What seems to be lost in the American blogosphere is the fact that Campbell's halal soups are not offered in the U.S., and the company says it's not planning to.
The company says ISNA was selected after consultations with professionals in the field of Islamic foods and nutrition, and with Islamic scholars.
ISNA has denied any ties to Hamas and has specifically condemned religious extremism and violence, the Washington Post said in a story headlined "A Canadian line of Campbell's soups has activists stewing over Islamic connection."
And the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist political movement founded in Egypt in the 1920s, is not included in the U.S. State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations, the report said.
The New York Times has also published a profile of the 52-year-old mother of four, who critics say is spreading fear of Islam and a dehumanization of Muslims.
According to the NY Times report, Geller's Atlas Shrugs, which gets about 200,000 unique visitors a month, helped draw thousands to protests against the Ground Zero mosque project earlier this summer. She's also the leader of an organization called Stop Islamization of America.
It is not the first time Geller looks north for inspiration.
In 2008, she issued an appeal to raise $4,000 for a headstone for a Muslim-Canadian girl who was killed by her family for refusing to wear a headscarf, the NY Times reported.
Aqsa Parvez, a 16-year-old woman from Mississauga, Ont., was killed by her father and brother after a dispute over her choice of dress, her friends and other issues. The two men were sentenced to life in prison after guilty pleas last June to second-degree murder.
As for the impact the boycott calls have had on Campbell's soup business, the company says it has not noticed any effect on its sales.