Bob Crane, the notorious former Nixon aide and convert to Islam, says so in a revealing new piece. He's against such violent protests, mind you, and he thinks Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician who is making the film, is just trying to provoke such reactions (Wilders explains himself eloquently here and here.) But he does think they would be "natural." "Challenge and Response: The Case of Islamophobic Wilding," by Dr. Robert D. Crane of The Center for Understanding Islam at The American Muslim (thanks to Freedom4Expression):
The challenge posed by Geert Wilders’ ten-minute film attacking the Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa salam, is political. He is a member of the Dutch parliament and a leader of a far right party that is trying to gain votes by exploiting the growing alienation and hostility between the minority of Muslims in Europe and the majority population.
He hopes to provoke radical responses by Muslims in order to support his party’s message that Islam must be purged from Europe and the Qur’an must be banned in public and criminalized even for private reading at home. He knows that some governments and other special interests in the Muslim world will oblige him by using his challenge to the Prophet Muhammad and the religion of Islam in order to consolidate their own power by stealing the thunder from their radical opponents. He has learned from the Danish Cartoons affair how tempting it is for unpopular Muslim governments to prove their legitimacy by facilitating and even provoking well-orchestrated and well-controlled violence against the “enemy”. Some Westerners, of course, have been known to do the same, and Geerts is one of them.
The first response that would be natural among Muslims is to fall into Geerts’ trap and resort to violent protests. Heavy-handed measures against such protests could merely provoke greater violence....
In other words, not only would violent protests from Muslims be "natural," but if non-Muslim authorities do anything to put them down, they'll just get worse. That is, shut up or else, and if you won't shut up, back off -- or else.
And in light of Crane's remarks, don't be surprised if, after Wilders's film comes out, Muslims start once again doin' what comes naturally.
Crane also backs attempts at censorship:
Right now, the Dutch seem to be doing a pretty good job without our help in getting popular support for restricting the access of Geert Wilders’ film within the Dutch media. The Dutch, however, would no doubt never ban it altogether, simply because the Dutch for decades, if not centuries, have had a reputation of liberality....
Pity that, eh?
Crane also claims that he and I were set to debate last November, but that he backed out. This is the first I heard of this:
...It is important to note that Brother Yusuf did not directly debate the rabid preacher, because such a debate would not be conducive to intelligent discussion. This was the reason I backed out of a “debate” on a national hook-up scheduled with Robert Spencer last fall on November 8. On November 6th, I concluded that we were on the same side in warning about and trying to counter the radicals who pose as Muslims, such as Osama bin Laden, who are using religion as a political tool to vent their hatred on everyone who disagrees with them. I told the producer of the show that I would join a two-man panel with Spencer after he had had a chance to read my latest book, which the IIIT is bringing out under the title The Natural Law of Compassionate Justice, more than a hundred pages of which directly expose almost line for line Spencer’s biased reliance on extremist Muslims as source material in his current book, The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion.
While this may be true, if anyone had ever scheduled a debate between Crane and me, I was never told about it. That doesn't mean that it wasn't actually scheduled. One very, very early morning, I got the call for what I thought was a routine and low-key radio interview, only to find myself half-asleep and coffeeless in a debate with Muqtedar Khan of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy. So these things happen. But not only did I not know about this purported debate -- also, I never received word from anyone that Crane wanted to debate me, or be on a "two-man panel" with me, after I read his book. Not from Crane, not from the producer of any show, not from anyone. In fact, I didn't even know he had written a new book, much less that a large part of it is devoted to refuting mine, until I read this article.
It's also worth noting at this point, however, that Crane has, in earlier criticism of my work, directly misrepresented the content of Islamic texts. He has even done so in the process of accusing me of doing so. Details here and here. That makes it difficult for me to muster any anxiety over his alleged demolishing of my book The Truth About Muhammad -- if Crane plays as fast and loose with the facts in his book as he did in those earlier articles, then his farrago may fool the credulous and those who really, really want to believe him, but objective observers will be able to find out the truth. For in reality, as I'm sure Crane himself knows full well, I did not rely on "extremist Muslims as source material" for the book, but used instead the earliest material written about Muhammad by pious Muslims. If this is a "biased reliance on extremist Muslims," then other biographers of Muhammad, including Muslims such as Tariq Ramadan, Muhammad Husayn Haykal, Safi ur-Rahman al-Mubarakpuri, and Yahiya Emerick, as well as non-Muslim Islamic apologists such as Karen Armstrong, are guilty of the same thing, since they use the same sources.
But anyway, I'll see if I can get hold of a copy of Crane's book, and am of course happy to debate him anytime, despite his only glancing acquaintance with truth and accuracy, and his indulgence in the familiar tendency to defame my character and motives rather than actually to refute what I'm saying. It's interesting, finally, to note that ol' Bob got it published by the IIIT -- the International Institute of Islamic Thought. The IIIT was named in a May 1991 Muslim Brotherhood memorandum (pdf here) as part of the Brotherhood's "organizations of our friends" dedicated to "a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands ... so that ... God's religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions."
Got anything to say about that, Bob?