A letter from the UK Home Office said the decision – effective for up to 5 years – was based on Spencer’s vicious Islamophobic views. A government spokesperson reportedly said:
“We condemn all those whose behaviors and views run counter to our shared values and will not stand for extremism in any form.”
The fact that the UK considers Spencer more hateful than Anjem Chowdhry should alarm anyone to the extent of his bigotry. In reality, they are both made of the same protoplasm.
The BBC reported Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, who had called for Spencer (and his associate Pamela Geller) to be banned from the UK, saying:
“I welcome the home secretary’s ban on Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer from entering the country. This is the right decision. The UK should never become a stage for inflammatory speakers who promote hate.”
A researcher with the anti-fascism organization Hope Not Hate, Matthew Collins, said:
“These two are among some of the most extreme anti-Muslim activists in the world. They’ve nothing to contribute to life in this country. They’re not here to contribute to good community relations. They only wanted to come here and help the EDL stir up more trouble. Britain doesn’t need more hate even just for a few days.”
In this day and age, bigots who promote racism, antisemitism or Islamophobia are rightly called out by those seeking a peaceful world. Spencer is well known for wrongly claiming that Islam is represented by terrorists like the Taliban. In a recent exchange with him, he claimed the Taliban were true Muslims, but hesitated to call me a Muslim because of my progressive reformist views on Islam. Read Exchange Here: Spencer & Geller identify Taliban – but not Ahmadis – as Muslims.
I belong to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, one of the largest organized communities of Muslims worldwide, with tens of millions of members in over 200 countries in the world, united under His Holiness, the Khalifa of Islam. We promote universal justice, freedom of conscience and speech, and free exchange and criticism of ideas in accordance with the teachings of Islam. We extend humanitarian service in all parts of the world irrespective of faith or creed (e.g. www.muslimsforlife.org). We condemn violent Jihad, and apostasy and blasphemy laws as un-Islamic and inhumane, and champion the separation of Church and State. We speak loudly for the rights of persecuted minorities in parts of the Muslim world, just as we despise persecution elsewhere.
Because Muslims like us do not fit the description of the Muslim Spencer wants to project to the world – angry gun-wielding terrorists – he tries hard to discredit us and our views. And when he fails, he bursts into ‘ad hominem mode,’ turning to repeated slander and abuse. Spencer frequents my twitter timeline, and is known for engaging in abusive trolling for hours on end. We recently had another exchange on twitter in which he called me a terrorist enabler, Jihadi apologist etc etc.
Keep in mind, the Ahmadi Muslims are persecuted in parts of the Muslim world, especially in Pakistan, where hundreds have been killed by the Taliban, and the State continues to enforce laws restricting their freedoms and basic human rights. Why would Spencer identify me with my killers?
Robert Spencer co-runs the extreme far right, and Islamophobic, organization “Stop Islamization of America,” which has been listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. FBI defines a hate group as one who’s “primary purpose is to promote animosity, hostility, and malice against persons belonging to a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin which differs from that of the members of the organization”. The Southern Poverty Law Center has described SIOA as a “propaganda powerhouse” that paints moderate Muslims as radical terrorists. No wonder Spencer was quick to label me a radical and a terror apologist.
The Southern Poverty Law Center website has a long section documenting Spencer’s bigotry. Here is a small excerpt:
“Spencer also attacks individuals and organizations that claim to represent moderate Islam. This is most commonly done through accusations of those entities acting as secret operatives to destroy the West. Spencer engages in fear-mongering through steady reference to theories like “stealth jihad,” eminent “Islamization of America,” and the infiltration of Congress by “Muslim spy interns.”
Spencer is known to have associations with European racists and neo-fascists. However, he claims that his contact with them is merely incidental.
Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist who slaughtered 77 people, mostly teens, in Oslo and the nearby island of Utoya on July 22, 2011, referenced Spencer’s writings dozens of times in his 1,500-page manifesto. He believed that Islam was destroying Western civilization.”
According to Heidi Beirich, Deputy Director of SPLC, Geller and Spencer’s writings were “the primary sources for the anti-Muslim propaganda that had helped give voice” to Breivik’s 1500+ page manifesto.
The well-known hate preacher is known for his twitter trolling as well. I will address parts of our recent twitter exchange here briefly.
1) Doctrine of Jihad
Spencer claimed he was my Savior. “You attack those who defend you against Jihadi terrorism. You are a terrorist enabler,” he kept repeating like a broken record.
Lets be clear. Spencer’s focus is not in fighting ‘Jihadi terror,’ but in insisting that this extremism is real Islam. Any Muslim who does not conform to his imagination is quickly attacked through repeated slander, labelled a terror apologist or even a terrorist.
He misrepresents Islam’s teachings, flaunting the narrative of Jihadist terrorists as authentic and any other as deviant. Spencer is no fan of Muslims like me who fight the ideology of the Jihadists, and are killed in places like Pakistan for standing up to extremism. The reason he doesn’t like us is because we challenge his narrow world view on Islam. A pluralistic, tolerant worldview from a Muslim is anathema to his personal agenda. It terrifies him. This is why, instead of siding with us in this fight, he choses to fight us instead.
There is no doubt “Jihadi terrorism” is a real problem. All terrorism is – including “Christian terrorism” in parts of the world like CAR, Uganda, South Sudan and Mexico. We Ahmadi Muslims have been condemning Jihadi violence since the inception of the Community at the hands of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in 1889. For condemning the prevalent belligerent view on Jihad at the time, the founder of the community faced edicts of heresy and death threats by some of his contemporaries.
Jihad is an Arabic word which means struggle. I wrote about the Islamic concept of Jihad in this The Record oped: The Doctrine of ‘Jihad. There is doubt that Islam categorically forbids violence. The killing of one human is akin to killing the whole of humanity (5:32). The physical Jihad at the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was an existential necessity to defend against onslaughts, and protect religious freedom. In this age, Ahmadi Muslims engage in a Jihad of the pen through intellectual discourse to debunk myths about Islam and its Holy Prophet. The Muslim Writers Guild of America, of which I have been a former Chairman, is one such forum.
Instead of doggedly insisting that I recognize the Jihadists who are out to kill me as true representatives of my faith, I invite Spencer to side with me against their narrative, which I consider inhumane and unIslamic. He won’t accept this invitation because my peaceful intellectual narrative is a threat to his bigoted agenda. The whole hate empire he has built comes crashing down with such an admission. A Muslim fighting the Jihadis, yet claiming to follow Islam? Let’s call him a terror apologist. Smh!
Spencer claims I must accept him as my Savior. In fact, he is only the Savior for the extremist narrative that I fight.
In the same conversation, Spencer said the “dangerous” Koran prescribes death for apostates.
“Are you referring to this verse?” I asked:
“If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying: Let us go and worship other gods (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other, or gods of other religions), do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you.” (Deuteronomy 13:6-11)
Deuteronomy 17:3-5 and 2 Chronicles 15:13 reinforce the same injunction about death for apostates.
Spencer became furious. “You are a terrorist enabler,” he said. Christians do not act on these verses anymore, he claimed.
“I am glad they don’t,” I responded. But show me ONE verse in the Koran that speaks of death for apostasy. He mentioned 4:89.
This verse speaks of specific hypocrites – not apostates – who were keen on fighting the State of Medina. “They (hypocrites mentioned in preceding verse) long that ye should disbelieve even as they disbelieve, that ye may be upon a level (with them). So choose not friends from them till they forsake their homes in the way of Allah; if they turn back (to enmity) then take them and kill them wherever ye find them, and choose no friend nor helper from among them.”
The reference here is to those Bedouin tribes that had formed mutual alliances with Muslims, but were planning on entering into a confederation with the Meccans against Prophet Muhammad at the same time. Muslims were advised against befriending such hypocrites. In case they resorted to treason through open hostilities, Muslims were commanded to engage them in a fight. The next verse makes this even clearer. In 4:90, God forbade the Muslims from fighting those of the hypocrites that remained peaceful. “…if they hold aloof from you and wage not war against you and offer you peace, Allah alloweth you no way against them.”
Where is apostasy mentioned?
The Koran upholds free speech and freedom of conscience. I have debated this with an anti-Islam anti-theist activist here: Does the Koran Endorse Apostasy Laws? Spencer is free to rebut the piece.
For a detailed scholarly take on this subject, I invite readers to study this chapter on apostasy from the book Murder In The Name of Allah by Mirza Tahir Ahmad, the late fourth Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
Spencer immediately took to the back foot. Some other Muslims “interpret” the verse this way, he claimed. This was subtle admission that the verse itself said nothing of the sort he implied. It was not the Koran, but “interpretations” by men that he was leaning on.
1) Show me ONE verse in Koran that speaks of death for apostasy, without relying on “interpretations” by others, let alone terrorists?
2) If you are indeed honest in your hatred for such cruel punishments for mere free choice, would you condemn the Biblical verses I referenced above? Shall we remove them from the Bible?
3) Death For Blasphemy
Spencer then mentioned the punishment of blasphemy in certain Muslim-majority countries as proof of Koran’s evil nature. Once again, I asked Spencer if he was referring to this verse:
“Anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.” (Leviticus 24:16)
Spencer said no Christian or Jew followed these laws anymore. Thats great to know. I pray extremist Mullahs in parts of the Muslim world also stop following these unIslamic Biblical laws. The Ahmadi Muslims condemn blasphemy laws in Pakistan and elsewhere. They have no basis in the Koran whatsoever.
After the tragic Charlie Hebdo attacks, I penned down this oped on Blasphemy: Reacting To Charlie Hebdo — Two Extremes. Read and see for yourself what the Koran says.
Spencer then mentioned Kaab and Asma as examples of people punished for their free speech. In fact, Kaab was punished for inciting war and partnering with a warring enemy. Asma’s account is controversial, many scholars considering it a fabrication. No wonder Spencer has to rely on fabricated or distorted accounts, and not the Koran, to prove his own point – and that of the extremists. Why would he go to such lengths to prove the extremists right, and me wrong?
Related: Read renowned author, lawyer and Muslim leader Mr. Qasim Rashid’s book on common Islamophobe allegations against Islam: EXTREMIST: A Response to Geert Wilders & Terrorists Everywhere.
1) Show me ONE verse in the Koran that prescribes death for blasphemy?
2) If you are honest in your disgust for blasphemy laws, would you condemn the specific verses of the Bible that speak of this barbarity? Just as I condemn all States – Muslim or otherwise – that have blasphemy laws in place.
4) Prophet of terror?
Spencer then claimed that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was a man of terror. He referenced this quote attributed to Prophet Muhammad in a narration: “I have been made victorious with terror.”
The Arabic word used in the narration is “Ru’b,” which is Arabic for awe, panic or trance. It is also used in another narration. The Prophet (pbuh) said:
“I was given victory through Ru`b. The enemy becomes filled with Ru`b even though they are the distance of a month’s journey away from me.”(Ahmad #20337).
This makes it clear that he was referring to the awe, fright or panic the enemies felt when plotting against him from afar. Indeed, we see that his enemies were never successful against him despite much larger numbers and equipment. This psychological fear prevented further attacks on the Muslims and saved many lives, and the unnecessary hardships of war.
1) Why did you mislead your readers (as always) by implying that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) meant violence when he used the word ‘Ru’b?’
2) In Mathew 10-34, Jesus is reported to have said: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” I do not believe Jesus (on whom be peace) was a man of terror, but the Jesus presented in this verse does not appear to be as peaceful as the one I read in the Koran. Do you believe Jesus was a man of terror based on what you consider his own authentic words?
After each rebuttal, Spencer would change the topic of the conversation.
He then agreed to debate me on “Islamophobia.” What is there to debate about it? Islamophobia and antisemitism are evils that the world must denounce and call out. This is exactly why countries like the UK have decided to bar Spencer from entry. He is a dangerous hate preacher who’s empire is built on lies and false propaganda.
He is part of an industry that is well-funded to spread fear of the minority Muslims in the West. Read this report on this industry: The Islamophobia network.
When I mentioned this to Spencer, he became furious. In his madness, he indadvertedly admitted to benefitting from this network.
Those Christians who blindly follow hate preachers here in the USA are no different from those ignorant Muslims who follow extremist Mullahs and hate preachers in countries like Pakistan.
It is time my fellow Christian friends condemn their own Mullahs, just as we loudly condemn our own. Extremism and bigotry should be sidelined, and taken out of the mainstream.
While I preach this, Spencer’s ad hominem attacks continue. Who cares about intellectual discourse?