The Seeker, Manya Brachear’s blog about religion on the Chicago Tribune website has a post, Chicago welcomes once-banned Muslim Scholar, about the upcoming trip of Islamic scholar/reformer and Oxford professor Tariq Ramadan to the United States (hat tip: iSherif).
You may remember that Tariq Ramadan had his visa revoked by the Bush administration, ostensibly because he donated money to a charity organization that it was later charged had links to Hamas. The charge was clearly fallacious as the organization was not listed as a banned charity in America at the time that Tariq Ramadan made his contribution.
The real reason seems to be that Tariq Ramadan was banned by Bush due to a policy of ideological exclusion and Ramadan’s fierce opposition to the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This was further confirmed when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered Ramadan’s visa to be reinstated.
Unfortunately the blog post quoted Robert Spencer, one of the leading Islamophobes in the West today.
But author Robert Spencer says that popularity is dangerous. In interviews, he has criticized Clinton for making an exception to U.S. law that prohibits supports of terrorist groups from entering the country. Spencer said Ramadan should still be barred for donating money to a group that funds Hamas.
Spencer contends that the scholar has the same goals as Osama bin Laden–to impose Shariah law in the West. While Ramadan paints himself as a moderate intellectual, Spencer said, he is actually a “stealth jihadist.”
It is a severe lapse in judgement for Brachear to quote Spencer’s claims since they are false on their head. It is an attempt on Spencer’s part to “poison the wells.” The fact is Ramadan has never supported Hamas or terrorism, in fact he has been one of the most outspoken critics of both. “Stealth Jihad” is just paranoid new speak that serves bigots who wish to cast normal, law abiding Muslims as evil villains who are secretly working behind the scenes to take over the West. It is in fact the new “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”
Our website has copiously dissected many of Robert Spencer’s blog posts exposing his unsavory associations, pseudo-scholarship and blatant bigotry against Muslims and Islam. One of our premiere contributors, Danios has gone through whole chapters in Spencer’s books and revealed how shoddy and inaccurate a lot of his work has been. To quote Robert Spencer on Muslims and Islam is equivalent to quoting David Duke on Judaism or Jews.
One instructive point in regards to all of this is that one of Spencer’s closest friends and a co-founder with Spencer of The Freedom Defense Initiative, Pamela Geller has gone to the extreme (and insane) level of calling Tariq Ramadan, “a cold blooded Jihadists.” An exercise in hyperbole that the worst enemies and strongest critics of Ramadan won’t even engage in. However, one must ask Spencer if he agrees with that characterization by his friend Geller who he cross-posts from regularly? It also seriously puts into doubt the objectiveness of Spencer and whether he should ever be quoted by mainstream media.
I urge our readers to contact Manya and to politely express their disappointment at the inclusion of a bigot such as Spencer on a professional blog such as hers.
Here is some information that may be helpful to share with Manya (remember to be polite and topical):
The fact is Spencer is not taken seriously by academia especially in the field of Islam: He has been repudiated over and over. Take a glance at our archives:
Academics and members of the American Library Association condemn Spencer and his work: Robert Spencer Rejected by Academics, still Supports Geert Wilders
His former friend and ally Charles Johnson has also condemned Robert Spencer as an “Anti-Islamic Bigot:”
Spencer’s association and fervent support for anti-Muslim European neo-Fascists and supremacists also disqualifies him from being mentioned as a true neutral observer and commenter on Islam or radical Islam:
Spencer has also joined a genocidal Facebook group which called for the extermination of Turks:
Robert Spencer’s arguments have been shown to be filled with errors and excessive prejudice:
There is more information exposing the bigotry and anti-Muslim motive that mars the work of Robert Spencer in our archives, if Manya Brachear truly cares about the information she wishes to present to readers then she should take a serious look at who she chooses to quote as an expert.