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Sheila Musaji: Robert Spencer Uses 4th of July to Spread Islamophobia

Robert Spencer is lost

Spencer‘s always on the prowl to demean Muslims and spread Islamophobia (h/t: Critical Dragon):

Robert Spencer uses 4th of July to spread Islamophobia

by Sheila Musaji (The American Muslim)

Robert Spencer cannot let any opportunity go by to find a way to make a negative statement about Islam and Muslims.  Today, he used the occasion of the celebration of OUR nation’s Independence Day, the 4th of July to find a way to target American Muslims rather than to simply express his patriotism.

In his article, he lists four freedoms that “we” must defend.  In his commentary on what “we” must defend against, he uses only examples that he thinks represent Muslim attitudes at variance with the Constitution, and most of the examples he gives are from other countries, and from ancient texts.  According to the worldview Spencer is promoting, Muslims are anti-Constitution, anti-American, and untrustworthy and disloyal citizens.  It is clear that the “we” he refers to does not include Muslims.  He doesn’t mention any other individuals or groups who might pose a threat to our Constitution.  He also doesn’t mention any positive contributions of Muslims toward defending the Constitution and our freedoms.

Spencer only gives three references to American Muslims, and those in his first point.  Omar Ahmed, the individual accused of making one of the statements denies that he ever made this statement.  The supposed quote from the Muslim Brotherhood memorandum is questionable at best (see Muslim Brotherhood Document of the Muslim or Islamophobic Lunatic Fringe?).  The quote attributed to Ibrahim Hooper is not only out of context, but can be variously interpreted (see A response to Daniel Pipes’ allegations).

Here are the 4 freedoms Spencer mentions:

— 1. Freedom of religion, and non-establishment of religion.  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” — First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
— 2. Freedom of speech “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” — First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
— 3. Equality of rights before the law “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” — Declaration of Independence
— 4. Governments deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.  “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” — Declaration of Independence

I would agree with him on the importance of these freedoms and many more (for example,habeas corpusthe rule of lawcivil rightssurveillance and profiling of citizens, etc.) and agree that all Americans must in every generation defend these freedoms from those who would undermine them.  American Muslims have strongly defended those freedoms:

1.  Freedom of religion, and non-establishment of religion.  American Muslim Academics/Scholars/Imams/Professionals issued a statement upholding the Freedom of Faith and the Freedom to Change one’s Faith.  And, many Muslims have spoken out about this issue.  See Apostasy and Freedom of Faith in Islam which includes a collection of articles.

2.  Freedom of speech.  American and Canadian Muslims issued a Defense of Freedom of Speech.  This statement specifically states that We uphold the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Both protect freedom of religion and speech, because both protections are fundamental to defending minorities from the whims of the majority.

3. Equality of rights before the law, and 4. Governments deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. See below.

Read the rest…

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  • Sarah Brown

    That’s fair enough Ilisha – I have been arguing the same myself today!

    “Adrian – I think you, anyone, should be able to criticise Islam – to be Islamophobic indeed. I also think some strands of that criticism might reasonably be objected to by Muslims. I think they should, obviously, be able to articulate those objections. Then we can all make up our minds where we stand. It would be possible to agree that Islam is subjected to a lot of scrutiny, or make the kind of point I make in that comment I quote about people only focusing on the worst manifestations of Islam, without in any way wanting to censor such criticism of Islam.”

    And in both the instances I cite where I bore that piece by Danios in mind, I did so in a not unsympathetic spirit. Sometimes – and this is the same with some pieces I read about antisemitism – I may not quite agree, or not be sure whether I agree (there isn’t a litmus test) but do recognize that the concerns are sincerely felt and worth thinking about.

  • Sarah Brown

    Geji – well, I do wish you would comment to clear things up directly. Some of it is just anti-Islam (but do note that we have a couple of commenters who just can’t stand any religion) but some of it seems more genuinely challenging of some of the positions here maybe. I feel that, much of the time, I’m not so far away from ATL writers here, or if I don’t agree I see where they are coming from. For example, when I read the piece about Mona Eltahawy and Arab men I felt ambivalent as I felt that she should be able to say what she likes where she likes, and was raising some valid points. But I bore it in mind both when I posted about a pro-women march in Egypt (through emphasising in my post the presence of supportive men – that was where the piece here influenced me) and also when I posted about this piece about Alice Walker’s Israel boycott stuff –

    https://engageonline.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/alice-walkers-latest-bds-move/

    I quoted Danios as an interesting parallel. So – I’ll listen to you, but I listen to the people on HP as well and it gets hard to adjudicate when you don’t occupy the same spaces much.

  • Sam Seed

    @Mesa, this site is about fighting Islamophobia. Maybe you should ‘listen’ to what you write before making a judgment.

  • Géji

    @Sarah Brown: “It’s not premoderated and it’s very liberal”

    Sarah my dear, there’s nothing “liberal” about a free fall ignorant spewing, especially if there isn’t really substantial back up to stop the sinking, at the end all it does is just inevitably hit the floor. Some, if not most of those comments are just pretty appalling, it will take a whole lot of web to stop the chute.

  • Mesa

    Do you ever listen to yourselves speak? I have read your articles, responses, ideas, attitudes and wordings and it sounds worse than the rhetoric Spencer uses. Instead of looking to protest “Islamaphobia”, why not discuss the very many Muslim organizations? Give the names, addresses and positive outcomes from the very many American/Islamic demonstrations showing solidarity with OUR constitution! Perhaps then, more American Christians, Jews, Buddhists and others will be able to discuss the situation more intelligently.

  • Pingback: Sheila Musaji: Robert Spencer Uses 4th of July to Spread Islamophobia | Spencer Watch()

  • Sarah Brown

    Yes, it is the same Adrian Morgan. I am not a fan of Spinwatch BTW. I don’t always agree with AM, and clearly the kind of profile you link to is going to pick out the most controversial pieces/incidents. But even though I – let alone you – don’t see eye to eye with him, that doesn’t itself invalidate any substantive points he might raise. He has actually argued extremely eloquently against anti-Muslim bigotry on many occasions, although I still accept he isn’t going to be your cup of tea!

    I am sorry you find some comments offensive – yes, I shouldn’t have given the impression that anything offensive, which is a subjective term, is deleted. I wish you would point out anything wrong, I mean factually wrong – either mention it here or there – the commenters who were more hostile to my post are also probably those most immersed in the issues, so it’s hard to get a complete picture.

  • Erm, Sarah, some of the comments on their are very offensive and wrong.

    Also what’s with all this hate from Adrian Morgan, is he the same Adrian Morgan profiled on Spinwatch and Searchlight:

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2009/09/showcase-the-neo-cons-the-bnp-and-the-islamophobia-network/

    If so one can see clearly why he is so opposed to Loonwatch.

  • Sarah Brown

    @Garibaldi – It’s not premoderated and it’s very liberal. Really offensive – say racist – comments are deleted. Unfortunately I don’t know enough about the specifics of Islam/Muslims in the US, so it has been difficult to know how to respond to some of the criticisms of Musaji.

  • Garibaldi

    @Sarah,

    You’re welcome.

    That’s a real interesting discussion that has ensued, is it a completely free comment policy at Harry’s Place?

  • Given the choice between the Muslim Brotherhood and a military party, I think Egyptians made the right choice. I just hope my country, the United States, backs off and allows Egypt to find it own way in its own democracy.

    This business that democracy and Islam are not compatable is nonsense. Iran had a democracy in the early 1950s. Unfortunately, England and the United States couldn’t stand the decisions being made in democratic Iran, i.e., the decision to own its own oil, and they, England & the U.S. staged an assassination and the return of authoritarian rule.

    I have this wish of my country regarding all other countries in the world: back off, let them be, and take care of your own backyard.

  • Sarah Brown

    Thanks Garibaldi – it was asked by a commenter on a post I wrote in response to this on Harry’s Place.

    http://hurryupharry.org/2012/07/07/sheila-musaji-on-robert-spencer/

  • Garibaldi

    @Sarah, where was this question posed, and by who?

    We don’t have an official stance on the Muslim Brotherhood. Most of the articles about the MB on Loonwatch discuss the pervading myths in the West, especially in the USA, that somehow the MB is infiltrating and taking over not only our government but our societies, that they are using taqiyyah, stealth jihad, etc. to do so.

    I don’t see a theocratic totalitarian threat from the MB’s political party FJP. The FJP’s positions and statements have all been aligned towards embracing and affirming Republican and Democratic values/processes. As Islamic scholar Khaled Abou Fadl said recently in an interview with the Huffington Post that we re-posted,

    What you’re going to see is a lot of tension and friction forcing the Ikhwan (MB) to distinguish themselves from the Wahhabi and Salafi types. I think they’re going to draw closer to the model of [Tunisia’s] Ghannoushi and the Islamist party in Turkey. Among the Ikhwan themselves, no one is in any mood to talk about whether music is halal or haram, or whether women should be banned from this or that, or all that social stuff, while the Jama’a al-Islamiya (Wahhabist) are fantasizing about it. And I think there’s going to be a lot of friction, and ultimately the Ikhwan are going to be forced away from the Wahhabis. It’s very difficult to work with the Wahhabis or live with the Wahhabis long term, because they lack flexibility in their thought.

    Another positive indicator in terms of political Islam. I personally was surprised in this whole process how very few Egyptians even contemplated the idea of living in a state resembling the Iranian or Saudi model. Even those who voted for the Ikhwan believe that personal piety might make people less corrupt, but I haven’t encountered any substantial numbers who say, “We vote for the Ikhwan because they will rule in the name of God and apply God’s law, which is infallible.” I definitely think this whole experience in Tunisia, and Egypt, and Syria is a return to authenticity in the sense that no one is denying their Islamic identity. But at the same time they are re-structuring that identity in a way that is entirely consistent with ideas of democracy. It’s remarkable to me how many mosques I attended in Egypt where the sheikh would say, “God has given you the right to decide who will rule you, and no one can take that away.” That has to be positive. It’s very different from the years I spent in Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, where all you’re told is basically that you have to obey the ruler if he beats you or oppresses you. It’s a really different discourse, so yeah I’m optimistic.

    I think the real issue is the military and foreign intervention. That’s quite clear. This is not the first constitutional awakening in this part of the world. There have been several in the past, and some quite enlightened ideas, and every time foreign intervention aborts the project. But I think it’s not going to be at all easy, because of the level of education and because of the modern means of exchanging information, which provide multiple sources so that no one relies on state TV. It’s not going to be easy to just control and steer people as happened in the past.

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2012/07/islamic-scholar-khaled-abou-el-fadl-discusses-the-struggle-to-control-egypt/

    It goes without saying that criticism directed against the MB is something that is NECESSARY and should be completely welcome, it does not translate into anti-Muslim hatred, duh! Isn’t that obvious?

    In the past I have commented that I do view the MB’s rise with trepidation, but I agree with Fadl that there are more positive indicators than bad.

  • Sarah Brown

    I hope you don’t mind if I pass on a question from someone which stemmed, indirectly, from Sheila Musaji’s post.

    “Does Loonwatch regard the Muslim Brotherhood as a problematic and theocratic totalitarian organisation?

    Or does it take the view that the Muslim Brotherhood is a benign organisation which is unjustly maligned, and that even specific directed criticism against the party and particular activists is essentially anti-Muslim hatred?”

    Of course different people will probably have different answers.

  • marco

    They talk freedom only for themselves, yet at the same time seek to restrict the freedom of anyone they disagree with.

  • Emperor,

    Speaking of the Fourth of July and Islamophobia,

    Video: San Antonio Muslim Family Targeted on Fourth of July (CAIR)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITbAq-5HtMg&feature=em-uploademail

    One of the consequences of people like Spencer being taken seriously.

  • Sir David Illuminati membership number 16.69

    I think you are being really hard on the poor guy . I mean his employers made him work on a national holiday . Its no wonder he turns out such shoddy material. I think we should campaign for better pay for Spencer. Then maybe he could afford some decent clothes , get a real girl friend insted of having to hang around with deranged millionaresses and may be just may be write a book that would be worth reading .

    Sir David
    Leftwing mooslim Alliance
    West Anjou Branch

    Note We are still collecting Funds for the Free Sarko Fund , So far we have collected a staggering 0.14€

  • Sarah Brown

    I thought this was a really good post.

  • moosern

    The interesting thing about the Constitution is that there were many Christian pastors that were against it, as it did not create a Christian nation or give Christianity dominion over other faiths. And Mr. Spencer’s religion was outlawed in most of the US before the Constitution.

  • Yes, Robert Spencer is a very sad figure. But let us remember that one of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, who also died on the Forth of July, had his very own copy of the Quran.

  • @mindy1

    He’s done this before actually. This not the first fourth of July Spencer has used to spread promote his message. I think the Jihad Watch commentary that Sheila is refuting is an old one that Spencer simply re-posted again this year.

  • mindy1

    Sad that he cannot even celebrate a holiday without hate 🙁

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