Robert Spencer (author)
|Born||1962 (age 51–52)|
|Alma mater||The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.A. (1983),
M.A. (1986), Religious Studies)
|Known for||Criticism of Islam,
books and websites about
Jihad and Islamic terrorism
|Notable work(s)||The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion, (2006)
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (And the Crusades), (2005)
Robert Bruce Spencer (born February 27, 1962) is an American author and blogger best known for his criticism of Islam and research into Islamic terrorism and jihad. He has published twelve books, including two New York Times best-selling books. In 2003, with sponsorship by David Horowitz Freedom Center, he founded and has since directed Jihad Watch, a blog which he describes as containing "...news of the international jihad, [and] commentary..." which is dedicated to "bringing public attention to the role that jihad theology and ideology plays in the modern world, and to correcting popular misconceptions about the role of jihad and religion in modern-day conflicts". He has also co-founded Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) and the Freedom Defense Initiative with blogger Pamela Geller, with whom he also co-authored a book, The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War on America. Spencer and Geller have been barred from travel to the UK for supporting "anti-Muslim hate groups".
Spencer is a member of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the Uniat offshoot of the ancient Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch. It is a rite of the Catholic Church whose adherents are, according to Spencer, "mostly concentrated in Lebanon and Syria, also in Jordan and the Palestinian territories." His grandparents were forced to emigrate from an area that is now part of Turkey because they were Christians. According to a 2010 interview in New York magazine, Spencer's father worked for the Voice of America during the Cold War, and in his younger days, Spencer himself worked at Revolution Books, a Communist bookstore in New York City founded by Robert Avakian.
Spencer received a B.A. in 1983 and an M.A. in 1986 in religious studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His masters thesis was on Catholic history. He has said he has been studying Islamic theology, law, and history since 1980. He worked in think tanks for more than 20 years, and in 2002–2003 did a stint as an adjunct fellow with the Free Congress Foundation, an arm of the Heritage Foundation. Spencer named Paul Weyrich, also a Melkite Catholic, as a mentor of his writings on Islam. Spencer writes, "Paul Weyrich taught me a great deal, by word and by example – about how to deal both personally and professionally with the slanders and smears that are a daily aspect of this work." Spencer's first book on Islam was published in 2002.
Spencer's views on Islam
Spencer does not believe that traditional Islam is "inherently terroristic" but says he can prove that "traditional Islam contains violent and supremacist elements", and that "its various schools unanimously teach warfare against and the subjugation of unbelievers". However, he rejects the notion that all Muslims are necessarily violent people. He has said that among moderate Muslims, "there are some who are genuinely trying to frame a theory and practice of Islam that will allow for peaceful coexistence with unbelievers as equals." Spencer has also said that he would welcome any Muslim who renounces jihad and dhimmitude to join him in his "anti-jihadist efforts", but feels that anyone pursuing his called-for reforms will face a difficult task, because "the radicals actually do have a stronger theoretical, theological, and legal basis within Islam for what they believe than the moderates do." He has also argued that many so-called reformers are not interested in genuine reform, but instead are aiming to deflect scrutiny of Islam.
Spencer has expressed criticism of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and numerous other Muslim advocacy groups that he claims are closely tied to allegedly jihadist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood. He has also criticized the employment by CAIR of several Muslims who were convicted on charges relating to terrorism.
He has appeared with Ayn Rand Institute speakers on several occasions. In an interview with the Washington Post he was "...asked if he was being deliberately combative and provocative, Spencer chuckled. "Why not?" he asked. "It's fun."
Qur'an critic and secularist author Ibn Warraq has said that Spencer "tells the truth that few in the U.S. or Europe wish to face". Michelle Malkin says that Spencer "tells truths about jihadists that no one else will tell." Conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager has called JihadWatch, "one of the most honorable Web sites that I know of monitoring jihad in the world today." Father C.J.McCloskey of the National Catholic Register says Spencer is "perhaps the foremost Catholic expert on Islam in our country."
In a public debate between Spencer and Daniel C. Peterson, a professor of Islamic studies and Arabic, Peterson was critical about what he described as a selective criticism of Islam, but conceded to Spencer that "yes there is a broad consensus and has been for a long time about certain elements of jihadi teaching," about Spencer's assertion that the schools of Islamic jurisprudence do agree on the necessity to wage war against unbelievers, and that "we are really not disagreeing that much ... terrorism, Islamic terrorism, really does have roots in actual parts of the tradition of Islam."
Karen Armstrong has criticized Spencer's work as showing "entrenched hostility" towards Islam, and his citations of Islamic scripture as cherry-picked, stating among other examples that "Spencer never cites the Koran's condemnation of all warfare as an 'awesome evil', its prohibition of aggression or its insistence that only self-defence justifies armed conflict..." She concludes that "His book is a gift to extremists who can use it to 'prove' ... that the west is incurably hostile to their faith." Spencer responds: "Yet the verse she quotes (2:217) actually says only that warfare during the 'sacred month' is an 'awesome evil', and adds: 'Persecution is worse than killing.'" Spencer accuses Armstrong of context-dropping by omitting the fact that this was a defense for Muhammad's war in response to his persecution.
Benazir Bhutto accused Spencer of "falsely constructing a divide between Islam and West". She said he was using the Internet to spread hatred of Islam by presenting a "skewed, one-sided, and inflammatory story that only helps to sow the seed of civilizational conflict".
Dinesh D'Souza, of the Hoover Institution, wrote that Spencer downplays the passages of the Quran that urge peace and goodwill to reach one-sided opinions. He contends that Spencer applies a moral standard to Muslim empires that could not have been met by any European empire.
In an article discussing Bat Ye'or's 2005 book Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, French academic historian Ivan Jablonka writes that Spencer's views lack academic seriousness. Jablonka also describes Spencer as having a relentless intent to designate "new enemies for wars to come".
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) listed Spencer as a "Smearcaster" in an article in 2008, stating that "by selectively ignoring inconvenient Islamic texts and commentaries, Spencer concludes that Islam is innately extremist and violent".
Spencer co-founded Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) and the Freedom Defense Initiative (FDI) with Pamela Geller in 2010. Both organizations are designated as hate groups by the Anti-defamation league and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called Spencer and Geller American anti-Muslim writers because their writings "promote a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the pretext of fighting radical Islam. This belief system parallels the creation of an ideological — and far more deadly — form of anti-Semitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries." He continued, "we must always be wary of those whose love for the Jewish people is born out of hatred of Muslims or Arabs."
In an October 2010 news article, an investigative report by The Tennessean described Spencer as one of several individuals who "...cash in on spreading hate and fear about Islam." Tennessean investigation concluded "IRS filings from 2008 show that Robert Spencer earned $132,537 from the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and Horowitz pocketed over $400,000 for himself in just one year".
On December 20, 2006, the government of Pakistan announced a ban on Spencer's book, The Truth About Muhammad, citing "objectionable material" as the cause. Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto was likewise highly critical of Spencer's work. In his response to Bhutto's criticism, Spencer notes that the passage she cites was in fact written by Ibn Warraq.
In 2009, Spencer was asked to participate in an information session about Islam and Muslims designed for ethnic and multicultural librarians entitled "Perspectives on Islam: Beyond the Stereotyping", at the 2009 annual meeting of the American Library Association, which was sponsored by the ALA's Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT). After objections were raised by ALA members and the general public, the three other panelists withdrew in protest and the session was ultimately canceled.
In April 2010, the US Patent & Trademark Office rejected the trademarking attempt of Robert Spencer's organization "Stop Islamization of America" to trademark SIOA because their application for a trademark disparages all Muslims as terrorists. The US Trademark Examining attorney refuted Spencer's claims by offering proof with articles found in the LexisNexis databases which document how the majority of Muslims view terrorists as illegitimate adherents of Islam.,
In August 2010 The Washington Post cited Spencer, along with Pamela Geller, as conservative bloggers who have been influential in challenging the construction of the Park51 project, which he calls the "Ground Zero mosque". Spencer and Geller's organization Stop Islamization of America launched their first public protest outside of the Park51 location on June 6, 2010. See Park51 controversy article.
In September 2010, on ABC's This Week show, Reza Aslan said that SIOA is an offshoot of SIOE, which he said had been referred to as a Neo-Nazi organization by the European Union. Spencer later challenged Aslan to produce any evidence of his claim.
Ban from entering the UK
On June 26, 2013, Spencer and Pamela Geller were banned from entering the UK. They were due to speak at an English Defence League march in Woolwich, south London, where Drummer Lee Rigby was killed. Home Secretary Theresa May informed Spencer and Geller that their presence in the UK would "not be conducive to the public good".
A letter from the UK Home Office stated that this decision is based on Spencer's statement that:
" ....It [Islam] is a religion and is a belief system that mandates warfare against unbelievers for the purpose for establishing a societal model that is absolutely incompatible with Western society because media and general government unwillingness to face the sources of Islamic terrorism these things remain largely unknown."
The decision, which they cannot appeal, will stand for between three and five years. The ban followed a concerted campaign by the UK anti-extremism and civil rights organization Hope not Hate, which said it had collected 26,000 signatures for a petition to the Home Secretary.
- The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion, Regnery Press, 2006 (NYT bestseller list – 2006-10-29) ISBN 1-59698-028-1
- The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (And the Crusades), Regnery Press, 2005. (NYT bestseller list – 2005-10-16) ISBN 0-89526-013-1
- Not Peace But a Sword: The Great Chasm Between Christianity and Islam. Catholic Answers. March 25, 2013. ISBN 978-1938983283.
- Pamela Geller; Robert Spencer (July 27, 2010). The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War on America. Threshold Editions. ISBN 978-1-4391-8930-6.
- The Complete Infidels' Guide to the Koran. Regnery Press. September 21, 2009. p. 260. ISBN 978-1-59698-104-1.
- Did Muhammad Exist?: An Inquiry Into Islam's Obscure Origins, ISI Books, March 2012. ISBN 978-1-61017-061-1
- Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs. Regnery Press. October 28, 2008. ISBN 978-1-59698-556-8.
- Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn't, Regnery Publishing, 2007, ISBN 1-59698-515-1
- The Myth of Islamic Tolerance: How Islamic Law Treats Non-Muslims (editor), Prometheus Books, 2005. ISBN 1-59102-249-5
- Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West, Regnery Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0-89526-100-6
- (with Daniel Ali) (2003). Inside Islam: A Guide for Catholics: 100 questions and answers. Ascension Press. p. 197. ISBN 0-9659228-5-5.
- Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World's Fastest Growing Faith. Encounter Books. October 25, 2002. p. 202. ISBN 1-893554-58-9.
- "Robert Spencer Jihad Watch, Director Q & A with Brian Lamb". CSpan. August 20, 2006. Retrieved October 31, 2010.
- "Why Jihad Watch?". Jihad Watch. Retrieved June 17, 2011.
- Kevin Rawlinson (June 26, 2013). "Anti-Ground Zero Mosque campaigners Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer barred from entering Britain to speak at an EDL rally". The Independent (London).
- "About Robert Spencer". Jihad Watch. Retrieved October 29, 2010.
- Spencer, Robert (October 26, 2010). "Pope must condemn demonizing of Israel". Spero News.
- Mark Jacobson (August 22, 2010). "Muhammad Comes to Manhattan". New York. Retrieved November 1, 2010.
- "The monophysite in the mirror, by Robert Bruce Spencer". Davis Library Thesis, Religion, 1986. UNC-CH Libraries.
- "Marines gather to honor, celebrate". Trib.com. 2005-10-26. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
- "About Robert Spencer". Jihad Watch. Retrieved 2010-11-25.
- Robert Spencer (December 19, 2008). "A Tribute: Paul Weyrich Has Died". Catholic Online. Retrieved December 16, 2010.
- "The Last Patriot: Worse than Spencer's books!". www.jihadwatch.org. July 7, 2008.
- Robert Spencer (January 14, 2006). "What is a moderate Muslim?". Jihad Watch.
- "About Robert Spencer". Jihad Watch.
- John Hawkins. "An Interview With Robert Spencer". Right Wing News.
- "CAIR "unindicted co-conspirator" in Hamas funding case". Jihad Watch. June 4, 2007.
- United States of America v. Randall Todd Royer, et al, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, June 2003
- Robert Spencer (May 27, 2008). "Cair's Continuing Mystery". Human Events.
- "Birds of a Feather". Ariwatch.com. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
- "In flap over mosque near Ground Zero, conservative bloggers gaining influence". Washingtonpost.com. 2010-08-18. Retrieved 2010-12-15.
- The politically incorrect guide to ... - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
- Paula Zahn (July 31, 2007). "Koran in the Toilet: Hate Crime?; Political Bedtime Stories". CNN.
- C.J.McCloskey (July 6, 2013). "The Christian-Muslim Gulf". National Catholic Register.
- "Islam: Threat or Not? - Part 4". JihadWatchVideo.
- "Islam: Threat or Not? - Part 5". JihadWatchVideo.
- Armstrong, Karen (April 27, 2007). "Balancing the Prophet". Financial Times.
- Spencer, Robert (May 5, 2007). "Book adheres to historical record". Financial Times. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
- Benazir Bhutto, Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West, Harper, 2008, pp. 245-6
- Dinesh D'Souza (March 2, 2007). "Letting Bin Laden Define Islam". Archived from the original on March 4, 2007.
- Ivan Jablonka, "La peur de l’islam. Bat Ye'or et le spectre de l' 'Eurabie'", La Vie des idées, May 1, 2006. ISSN: 2105-3030. (French)
- "Smearcasters: Robert Spencer". Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. Archived from the original on October 22, 2008.
- "Backgrounder: Stop Islamization of America (SIOA)". Extremism. Anti-Defamation League. March 25, 2011 [August 26, 2010]. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
- Pam Geller On ‘Hate Group’ Label: ‘A Badge of Honor’ | TPMMuckraker
- "Pamela Geller & Stop Islamization of America". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
- Steinback, Robert (Summer 2011). "Jihad Against Islam". Intelligence Report, Issue #142. Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
- "ADL: Norwegian Terrorist Motivated By Growing Extremist Ideology In Europe And The U.S.". Retrieved May 8, 2012.
- "Norwegian attacks stem from a new ideological hate". Retrieved May 8, 2012.
- "Anti-Muslim crusaders make millions spreading fear". October 24, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010.
- "David Horowitz Freedom Center's IRS Form 990". June 3, 2009. Retrieved April 24, 2011.
- "Pakistan bans Roberts' book about Prophet Muhammad".[dead link]
- "Parting Words from Benazir Bhutto".
- Raya Kuzyk; Norman Oder (July 11, 2009). "ALA Conference 2009: Panelists Quit Session Featuring 'Islam Basher'". Library Journal. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
- Michelle Boorstein (August 19, 2010). "In flap over mosque near Ground Zero, conservative bloggers gaining influence". The Washington Post.
- "Should Americans Fear Islam? pt.3". Retrieved June 18, 2011.
- Spencer, Robert (October 4, 2010). "Why is Reza Aslan taken seriously?". Jihad Watch. Retrieved June 18, 2011.
- "US bloggers banned from entering UK". BBC. June 26, 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
- Rawlinson, Kevin (June 26, 2013). "Anti-Ground Zero Mosque campaigners Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer barred from entering Britain to speak at an EDL rally". The Independent (London). Retrieved June 27, 2013.
- "Anti-Muslim pair banned from UK". Daily Express (UK). June 26, 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
- Lowles, Nick. "Geller and Spencer Banned". Hope not Hate. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
- Best Sellers – Hardcover Nonfiction – NYT
- Paperback Nonfiction – NYT
- Robert Spencer's Front Page Magazine column archive
- JihadWatch weblog
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Works by or about Robert Spencer (author) in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
Audio and interviews
- A 40 minute Interview with Robert Spencer
- Audio: Robert Spencer discusses "The Truth about Muhammad" on Shire Network News (Part 1) (Part 2)
- September 2007 Interview with Robert Spencer by The Liberal Institute
- Video of Robert Spencer At Brussels Counter-Jihad Conference
- Debate: Islam – Threat or Not? Debate between Robert Spencer and Professor Daniel Peterson
- Video: Robert Spencer discusses "The Truth about Muhammad" at Heritage.org – A one hour talk
- C-SPAN Q&A interview with Spencer, August 20, 2006