Culture

Osama bin Laden. Anwar al-Awlaki. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi— and Robert Spencer?

This image made from video posted on a militant website July 5, 2014, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq during his first public appearance. (AP Photo/Militant video, File)

If we all agree to ignore the passages in the Qur’an that enjoin believers to be violent toward non-Muslims, they’ll go away, right? If we deny that such passages even exist, jihadis will cease acting upon them, won’t they? That appears to be the view of Nathan Spannaus, a hustling young academic (or academic hustler, if you prefer) who identifies himself on Twitter as a “Middle East and Islamic Studies Ph.D” and author of a book called Preserving Islamic Tradition. Writing in the NYU Law School publication Just Security Wednesday, the far-seeing Spannaus has some big news: Mohiusunnath Chowdhury, a Muslim who attacked police with a sword outside Buckingham Palace, was apparently inspired to do so by…me. Spannaus claimed that Chowdhury’s reading of my work, along with that of Tommy Robinson and Christian scholar David Wood, “to reinforce in his mind the religious necessity of jihad.”

The day this article appeared was indeed April Fool’s Day, but it looks as if Spannaus was serious. As ridiculous as his claim was, however, he was generous enough to note that “Spencer has pushed back on the characterization that his writings helped inspire Chowdhury, arguing that a Muslim doesn’t need non-Muslim voices to justify jihadism. Fair enough — and questions of inspiration can be complicated. But evidence shows how seriously Chowdhury took these figures’ views. He saved numerous articles from Jihad Watch, including a list of Quranic passages extolling violence, and he shared Woods’ videos on jihadist attacks with the undercover agents, describing them as potential options….”

There is no doubt that, at least by his own account, Mohiusunnath Chowdhury did read my website Jihad Watch, along with material by Robinson and Wood. But would Nathan Spannaus actually have us believe that Chowdhury would not have had access to the Qur’an if not for Jihad Watch? Does Spannaus actually believe that Islamic jihadis don’t read the Qur’an themselves, and that if “Islamophobes” would just shut up about what’s in it, no Muslims would know its contents, and there would be no jihad terrorism?

Spannaus does mention that Chowdhury had been reading jihad manuals and material from al-Awlaki and other jihad preachers, but he still joins the relentlessly biased Lizzie Dearden of the Independent, whose article on Chowdhury a few weeks ago is the source of his claim, in charging that Tommy, David Wood and I are really the ones who set the poor, peaceful lad on the path to perdition.

If that were so, why were no Muslim clerics, with whom Chowdhury was manifestly in contact, unable to convince him of the true, peaceful Islam? Why was there jihad violence for 1,400 years before Tommy, David, or I wrote or said anything? If we validated the jihadist interpretation of Islam, where did it come from, and why did it have so much resonance among Muslims before we came along?

Spannaus does seem to be unaware of that 1,400-year history, and thinks it’s all our fault. “That Islam requires violent jihad and that mainstream Muslims are deluded about their faith is a common refrain in anti-Islam circles,” Spannaus writes, as if “anti-Islam circles” made up the idea that Islam requires violent jihad. Apparently Nathan Spannaus, his head full of things he thinks are true but aren’t, which is what happens to you when you get a Ph.D. in Islamic studies these days, assumes that if we all pretend that Islam is a religion of peace and never speak about its teachings calling for warfare against unbelievers and their subjugation under the rule of Islamic law, jihad activity will go away.

The problem for Spannaus and Dearden, and for their hapless readers, is that the Qur’an says what it says whether Tommy and David and I quote it or not. And Muslims read it whether we quote it or not. And some Muslims act upon its violent passages, whether or not we mention their existence.

Does Nathan Spannaus, “Middle East and Islamic Studies Ph.D,” really not know this? Or is his article in Just Security all simply part of the Left-fascists’ ongoing attempt to shut down all dissent from their agenda?

Certainly when Lizzie Dearden’s article came out, there were numerous calls for this site to be shut down and my books withdrawn from circulation, because they supposedly inspired Mohiusunnath Chowdhury. That would be like saying that an anti-Nazi writer in the 1930s, who quoted Mein Kampf and explained Nazi motives and goals, had to be shut down because he was inspiring Nazism. It’s insane, and that’s the world we live in today, where the likes of Lizzie Dearden are respected “journalists” and Nathan Spannaus is an accredited academic.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 19 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.