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Robert Spencer (author)

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Robert Spencer
Robert Spencer.jpg
Born (1962-02-27) February 27, 1962 (age 55)
Residence United States
Nationality American
Alma mater University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, (M.A. 1986, Religious Studies)
Occupation Author, blogger
Years active 2002–present
Known for Criticism of Islam,
books and websites about
Jihad and Islamic terrorism
Notable work The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion, (2006)
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (And the Crusades), (2005)
Style Advocacy journalism

Robert Bruce Spencer (born February 27, 1962) is an American author and blogger and a key figure of the "counter-jihad" movement in the United States.[1] He appears frequently on Fox News[2] and has given seminars to various law enforcement units in the United States.[3]

Spencer, a self-proclaimed expert on radical Islam,[4] has published a number of books on the subject including two New York Times bestsellers.[5] In 2003 he founded and has since directed Jihad Watch, a blog which he describes as containing "news of the international jihad, [and] commentary"[6] 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".[7]

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.

His viewpoints have been described as anti-Islamic or Islamophobic,[8] while he denies this and says he focuses his criticism on radical Islam and its violence.[4] In 2013 the UK Home Office has barred Spencer and Geller from travel to the UK for 3 to 5 years for "making statements that may foster hatred that might lead to inter-community violence".


Spencer is a member of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the Eastern Catholic Antiochian Greek Catholic counterpart of the ancient Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.[9][10] It is a sui iuris church of the Catholic Church whose adherents are, according to Spencer, "mostly concentrated in Lebanon and Syria, also in Jordan and the Palestinian territories."[6] In a 2006 interview, Spencer stated that his grandparents were forced to emigrate from an area that is now part of Turkey because they were Christians.[6] 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 Maoist bookstore in New York City founded by Robert Avakian.[11]

Spencer received an M.A. in 1986 in religious studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His masters thesis was on Catholic history.[12] He has said he has been studying Islamic theology, law, and history since 1980.[6][13] He worked in think tanks for more than 20 years,[11] and in 2002–2003 was an adjunct fellow with the Free Congress Foundation, an arm of the Heritage Foundation.[14][15] 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."[15]

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".[16] However, he rejects the notion that all Muslims are necessarily violent people.[16] 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."[17]

Spencer co-founded Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) and the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) with Pamela Geller in 2010. Both organizations are designated as hate groups by the Anti-Defamation League[18] and the Southern Poverty Law Center.[19][20][21]

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.""[22]

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has also condemned Robert Spencer on various occasions.[23]

Former Pakistani prime minister 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".[24] Spencer stated that the passage Bhutto cited was written by Ibn Warraq.[25]

Karen Armstrong has criticized Spencer's work as showing "entrenched hostility" towards Islam, and contends that his citations of Islamic scripture are cherry-picked,[26] 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.[27]

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."[28][29] The Institute on Religion and Democracy said about him: “Spencer’s comprehensive understanding of his Christian faith and Islam along with lucidly insightful writing give the lie to his international notoriety as a bigoted ‘Islamophobe.'”[30]

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.[31]

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".[32]

During a chapter of ACT! for America in Mission Vejo in 2015, Spencer said that: "When we see the Islamic State (ISIS), we see not only that they embody Islam as I have explained here in this, that's all in the Quran what they do, but also that they embody what may be, the foremost evil force that the world has ever seen."[33]

Steve Bannon praised him: "He's… one of the top two or three experts in the world on this great war we are fighting against fundamental Islam."[34]

Reverend C. John McCloskey praised him: "Robert Spencer, perhaps the foremost Catholic expert on Islam in our country".[35]

Author Peter D. Hannaford praised his book Did Muhammad Exist?: "He has engaged in concerted detective work of a scholarly nature. His book is no polemic. It is a serious quest for facts. The ones wrapped up in the Muslim canon are, alas, elusive ... This book is well-written and moves right along despite considerable detail."[36]

Wolf Bachner from the website Inquisitr defended him in the introduction for an interview: "Spencer uses the authentic teachings of the Qur’an and the Hadith, decades of Islamic Jurisprudence and the actual words of living Islamic clerics and leaders to illustrate the undying hostility expressed towards the non-Muslim world by centuries of Islamic doctrine."[37]


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.[38]

Onward Muslim Soldiers was banned in Malaysia on July 12, 2007.[39]

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.[40]

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.[citation needed]

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".[41] 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 Stop Islamisation Of Europe, which he said had been referred to as a Neo-Nazi organization by the European Union.[42] Spencer later challenged Aslan to produce any evidence of his claim.[43]

During Operation Protective Edge, Spencer was accused of spreading an anti-Palestinian misinformation video, originally published by Pamela Geller, by inaccurately claiming a video of an Egyptian die-in protest from Egyptian newspaper El Badil was a video of Hamas faking the number of casualties killed by Israel. Robert Spencer wrote “as Muhammad said, ‘War is deceit.’ And so here is more ‘Palestinian’ victimhood propaganda unmasked. Not that the international media and the world ‘human rights community’ will take any notice. Video thanks to Pamela Geller.” After El Badil had the video removed from Geller's YouTube account due to copyright infringement, El Badil wrote that Spencer and Geller's inability to distinguish a die-in protest from an Islamic funeral either makes them "incompetent to speak on Islam or they are professional liars."[44][45]

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".[46][47]

Spencer was first invited to be a speaker at the Catholic Men’s Conference of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester on March 16, 2013.[48] The Bishop Robert Joseph McManus then decided to rescind the invitation.[49]

University appearances

On April 13, 2017, Spencer spoke at the Truman State University despite protests and a petition against him. He was invited by the Young America's Foundation.[50]

On May 1, 2017, Spencer was scheduled to speak at the University of Buffalo. There he was shouted down and heckled.[51]

On May 3, 2017, Spencer spoke at Gettysburg College. 375 alumni urged the college president Janet Morgan Riggs to cancel the speech, but the event went on as planned.[52] Spencer said, "There is one kind of diversity that is not valued generally in an academic setting and that is intellectual diversity."[53]

Ban from entering the UK

On June 26, 2013, Spencer and Pamela Geller were banned from entering the UK.[54] 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".[55]

A letter from the UK Home Office stated that this decision is based on Spencer's statement that:

"It [Islam] is a religion or a belief system that mandates warfare against unbelievers for the purpose of establishing a societal model that is absolutely incompatible with Western society ... because of media and general government unwillingness to face the sources of Islamic terrorism these things remain largely unknown."[56]

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,[57] which said it had collected 26,000 signatures for a petition to the Home Secretary.[58] Spencer and Geller contested the ban, but in 2015 the British Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal, arguing that "this was a public order case where the police had advised that significant public disorder and serious violence might ensue from the proposed visit."[citation needed]

The ban was criticised by Douglas Murray. He noted that Islamist hate preachers are still allowed to enter the UK.[59]

Poisoned in Iceland

On May 16, 2017 Spencer wrote about a speaking trip to Iceland where a local activist slipped drugs into his drink while out to dinner. Spencer was poisoned and he was hospitalized overnight in Reykjavik. The perpetrator was caught on security cameras and the incident has been referred to the local police.[60]


Best sellers

Other books


See also


  1. ^ Lee, Benjamin (4 September 2015). "A Day in the "Swamp": Understanding Discourse in the Online Counter-Jihad Nebula". Democracy and Security. 11 (3): 248–274. doi:10.1080/17419166.2015.1067612. 
  2. ^ "Meet The Extremists Who Lead Fox's Conversation About Islam". Media Matters. January 13, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Anti-Muslim speakers still popular in law enforcement training". The Washington Post. March 12, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Deland, Mats (2014). In the Tracks of Breivik: Far Right Networks in Northern and Eastern Europe. Berlin Wien: Lit Verlag. p. 162. ISBN 3-643-90542-4. 
  5. ^ Simon & Schuster: "Robert Spencer" retrieved December 25, 2015
  6. ^ a b c d "Robert Spencer Jihad Watch, Director Q & A with Brian Lamb". CSpan. August 20, 2006. Retrieved November 30, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Why Jihad Watch?". Jihad Watch. Retrieved June 17, 2011. 
  8. ^ "EDL Anti-Muslim Speakers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer Banned from Britain by Theresa May". Ibtimes. 26 June 2013. Retrieved May 4, 2015. 
  9. ^ "About Robert Spencer". Jihad Watch. Retrieved October 29, 2010. 
  10. ^ Spencer, Robert (October 26, 2010). "Pope must condemn demonizing of Israel". Spero News. 
  11. ^ a b Mark Jacobson (August 22, 2010). "Muhammad Comes to Manhattan". New York. Retrieved November 1, 2010. 
  12. ^ "The monophysite in the mirror, by Robert Bruce Spencer". Davis Library Thesis, Religion, 1986. UNC-CH Libraries. 
  13. ^ "Marines gather to honor, celebrate". 2005-10-26. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  14. ^ "About Robert Spencer". Jihad Watch. Retrieved 2010-11-25. 
  15. ^ a b Robert Spencer (December 19, 2008). "A Tribute: Paul Weyrich Has Died". Catholic Online. Retrieved December 16, 2010. 
  16. ^ a b "The Last Patriot: Worse than Spencer's books!". Jihad Watch. July 7, 2008. 
  17. ^ Robert Spencer (January 14, 2006). "What is a moderate Muslim?". Jihad Watch. 
  18. ^ "Backgrounder: Stop Islamization of America (SIOA)". Extremism. Anti-Defamation League. March 25, 2011 [August 26, 2010]. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  19. ^ Lach, Eric (March 1, 2011). "Pam Geller On 'Hate Group' Label: 'A Badge of Honor'". Talking Points Memo. 
  20. ^ "Pamela Geller & Stop Islamization of America". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 27 June 2011. 
  21. ^ Steinback, Robert (Summer 2011). "Jihad Against Islam". Intelligence Report, Issue #142. Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved June 27, 2011. 
  22. ^ Boorstein, Michelle (2010-08-18). "In flap over mosque near Ground Zero, conservative bloggers gaining influence". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-12-15. 
  23. ^ CAIR. "Press Releases". 
  24. ^ Benazir Bhutto, Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West, Harper, 2008, pp. 245–46
  25. ^ Spencer, Robert (March 19, 2008). "Parting words from Benazir Bhutto". 
  26. ^ Armstrong, Karen (April 27, 2007). "Balancing the Prophet". Financial Times. 
  27. ^ Spencer, Robert (May 5, 2007). "Book adheres to historical record". Financial Times. Retrieved March 6, 2012. 
  28. ^ "ADL: Norwegian Terrorist Motivated By Growing Extremist Ideology In Europe And The U.S.". Retrieved May 8, 2012. 
  29. ^ Foxman, Abraham H. (July 29, 2011). "Norwegian attacks stem from a new ideological hate". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 8, 2012. 
  30. ^ "Cutting through Theological Confusion: Robert Spencer’s Not Peace but a Sword Distinctly Divides Christianity from Islam". 27 July 2013. 
  31. ^ Dinesh D'Souza (March 2, 2007). "Letting Bin Laden Define Islam". Archived from the original on March 4, 2007. 
  32. ^ "Smearcasters: Robert Spencer". Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. Archived from the original on October 22, 2008. 
  33. ^ JihadWatchVideo (14 March 2015). "Robert Spencer on Why ISIS is Islamic" – via YouTube. 
  34. ^ Harkinson, Josh (2016-09-15). "Trump Campaign CEO Was a Big Promoter of Anti-Muslim Extremists". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2017-02-08. 
  35. ^ McCloskey, C. John (2013-06-06). "The Christian-Muslim Gulf". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 2017-02-08. 
  36. ^ Hannaford, Peter D. (2012-05-07). "BOOK REVIEW: ‘Did Muhammad Exist?’". Washington Times. Retrieved 2017-02-08. 
  37. ^ Bachner, Wolf (2013-11-04). "Islam, Jihad And Democracy: The Inquisitr Interviews Robert Spencer". Inquisitr. Retrieved 2017-02-09. 
  38. ^ "Pakistan: Book Closed on Muhammad". 
  39. ^ "Ministry Bans 14 Books". BERNAMA. 12 July 2007. 
  40. ^ Raya Kuzyk; Norman Oder (July 11, 2009). "ALA Conference 2009: Panelists Quit Session Featuring 'Islam Basher'". Library Journal. Retrieved June 11, 2011. 
  41. ^ Michelle Boorstein (August 19, 2010). "In flap over mosque near Ground Zero, conservative bloggers gaining influence". The Washington Post. 
  42. ^ "Should Americans Fear Islam? pt.3". Retrieved June 18, 2011. 
  43. ^ Spencer, Robert (October 4, 2010). "Why is Reza Aslan taken seriously?". Jihad Watch. Retrieved June 18, 2011. 
  44. ^ Pamela Geller is transmitting hate against Palestinians by spreading misinformation, El Badil, (2014).
  45. ^ Conservative Post, Gaza ‘Corpses’ Caught Moving When They Forget Cameras Are On Them, August 19, 2014
  46. ^ "Anti-Muslim crusaders make millions spreading fear". October 24, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  47. ^ "David Horowitz Freedom Center's IRS Form 990" (PDF). June 3, 2009. Retrieved April 24, 2011. 
  48. ^ "Catholic speakers". 
  49. ^ "Catholic Men’s Conference opens ticket sales". The Catholic Free Press. 8 February 2013. 
  50. ^ "Truman State grapples with controversial anti-Muslim speaker". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 
  51. ^ "No violence, but UB speaker greeted with tension, heckling". The Buffalo News. 
  52. ^ "Open letter from 375 alums urges President Riggs to cancel Robert Spencer’s speech". The Gettysburgian. May 1, 2017. 
  53. ^ Pontz, Benjamin (May 3, 2017). "Robert Spencer’s speech at Gettysburg College engages students in civil discourse". The Gettysburgian. 
  54. ^ "US bloggers banned from entering UK". BBC. June 26, 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  55. ^ 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. 
  56. ^ The Speech that Got Robert Spencer Banned From the UK. YouTube. June 27, 2013. 
  57. ^ "Anti-Muslim pair banned from UK". Daily Express. UK. June 26, 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  58. ^ Lowles, Nick. "Geller and Spencer Banned". Hope not Hate. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  59. ^ "A gross double standard over hate speech". The Spectator. UK. June 27, 2013. Retrieved February 8, 2017. 
  60. ^ "Icelandic Leftist Poisons Robert Spencer". FrontPage Magazine. May 16, 2017. Retrieved May 16, 2017. 
  61. ^ Best Sellers – Hardcover NonfictionNYT
  62. ^ Paperback NonfictionNYT

External links