Generally I hate talking with reporters. Too many times I have wasted an hour of my life with them, only to get one misleading half-line in a story full of ad hominem attacks from jihad apologists. Here is one memorable example. And once in Toronto…well, I digress. This story in the Indianapolis Star is not bad, and even includes a sidebar containing quotes from me that, while they are not the ones I would have picked, are not ill-chosen.
Anyway, Louay Safi is allowed to defame me by likening me to an antisemite and a Klansman and falsely claiming that this effort is all about hating Muslims, but at least some of what I tried to explain to Robert King makes it into the story. Of course what I said to him was the sort of thing I point out all the time: that bin Laden and Zawahri and the late Zarqawi and Mukhlas Imron and so many other jihadists are justifying their violence by reference to passages of the Qur’an and the words and deeds of Muhammad. If peaceful Muslims don’t confront this and formulate new and non-literalist ways of understanding this material, it will continue to be used to incite violence. In other words, the use that jihadists make of elements of the Qur’an and Muhammad’s teaching makes it incumbent upon peaceful Muslims to perform a searching reevaluation of how they understand those elements, so as to neutralize their capacity to set Muslims against non-Muslims. As well as against other Muslims.
Anyway, Safi’s libels here remind me of a comment I got from another reporter some time ago: “One reason I starting reading your site was because people were insulting you. That meant you were getting under their skin. After a short read, it became clear the insults were unjustified, which implied your message angered them, but they were unable to counter it without insults.”
“Invitation to author upsets Muslims: Islamic group says writer’s planned talk to an FBI task force would add to distrust,” by Robert King in the Indianapolis Star, with thanks to Web:
The decision by the FBI’s Indianapolis office to bring in author Robert Spencer to talk to its anti-terrorism task force has a Plainfield-based Muslim organization concerned that the bureau is listening to an “Islamophobe” who distorts its faith.
The FBI had planned to bring in Spencer this week to speak to Indiana’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. His appearance was postponed because he had a scheduling conflict. Both Spencer and the FBI hope to reschedule.
Louay Safi, director of leadership development with the Plainfield-based Islamic Society of North America, said bringing Spencer in to talk of Islam is akin to bringing an anti-Semite to talk about Jews or a Ku Klux Klan member to talk about race.
“Many people in our community will not be happy with it,” Safi said.
Spencer is the author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam” and “The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion.” He is also a director of Jihad Watch, a Web site that calls attention to the activity of Islamic jihadists.
The site includes his take on various writings by Islamic scholars and groups as well as the news of the day in the Middle East. In fact, he announced he was coming to Indianapolis to meet with FBI officials.
Safi said Spencer’s writings take selected passages from Islamic writings out of context in an effort to prove the religion condones terrorism. He said the FBI’s use of Spencer could reinforce views some Muslims hold that the bureau treats them unfairly.
“When they bring in someone like that, it makes it difficult even for us to explain to the Muslim community that (the FBI) is neutral and is not listening to extremists who really hate Muslims,” Safi said.
Spencer said he is not an “Islamophobe,” and that he understands a majority of Muslims are peaceful. But he said there is no mistaking that modern-day jihadists from Osama bin Laden to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi cite the teachings of Islam in rationalizing their attacks.
“Maybe Osama bin Laden is misusing the Quran, but the Islamic Society of North America has never formed a response to the way he misuses it,” Spencer said.
Instead of facing up to the crisis within Islam, Muslim leaders too often aim criticism at those who point out these problems, Spencer said.