As of 2014[update], he has published twelve books, including two New York Times best-selling books. In 2003 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. His viewpoints have been described as anti-Islamic or Islamophobic. The UK Home Office has barred Spencer and Geller from travel to the UK 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 counterpart of the ancient Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch. 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." 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 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 has given seminars to various law enforcement units in the USA.
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 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.
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 CAIR for having employed persons who were later convicted of terrorism-related charges.
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."
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". Spencer stated that the passage Bhutto cited was written by Ibn Warraq.
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.
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." 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.'”
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.
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".
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.
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."
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".
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. The Bishop Robert Joseph McManus then decided to recind the invitation.
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 SecretaryTheresa 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.
Bruce Bawer said about his banning from Great Britain: "It should be a matter of national shame for Britain that when its government banned Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller from its shores, it was doing the bidding of the counter-counterjihadists of Hope Not Hate – who, despite their manifestly Stalinist methods and sympathies, are treated by U.K. authorities as reliable ideological gatekeepers, even as the truth-telling Spencers and Gellers are tagged as anathema."
|Short description||American political writer|
|Date of birth||February 27, 1962|
|Place of birth|
|Date of death|
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