Thursday, October 01, 2009

Fisking Robert Spencer

I wrote on Monday how MPACUK was trying to turn the peaceful praying of a few thousand Muslims at Capitol Hill into a political event. Now it's the turn of the other side. Robert Spencer has written a piece about the event trying desperately to spin it into something it wasn't. Spencer's point is to claim that the event was a "missed opportunity" at which the organisers should have spent their time denouncing terrorism. He tries very hard to make us believe that they didn't because they don't disagree with terrorism and that, in fact, they want to impose Sharia Law on the United States. Here is a fisking of the main points from the article:

Organizer Hassen Abdellah had explained before the event that it was designed "to show we are not terrorists, but that most of us Muslims here love America and abide by its laws."
Here Spencer tries to give the impression that the event was organised primarily as a protest against Islamic terrorism. If that were the case then not denouncing terrorism is a bit odd. But it simply isn't true. Here is what Newsweek reported, more accurately:

The gathering is not supposed to be political, Abdellah said in an interview. No placards or signs allowed. No major famous imams or popular celebrities scheduled so far. No real agenda other than to pray together. "We want this to be purely about Islam," he said. "We want to change the perception of Islam to show we are not terrorists, but that most of us Muslims here love America and abide by its laws."

So far from being an event to oppose terrorism it was, from the start, supposed to be a non-political event. The aim was never to be "Muslims against terrorism" but rather to be "Muslims as people". The organisers wanted people to see that Muslims are not all about terrorism all the time and this is what they did. 3,000 Muslim people prayed peacefully on Capitol Hill and nothing more. But to some, it seems, Muslims are all about terrorism and therefore everything they do must either be supporting terrorism or opposing it. There can never be anything neutral and this is where Spencer falls over the line into anti-Islam racism/hatred.
If the Islam on Capitol Hill event was really supposed to show that Muslims were not terrorists, wouldn't it have been a good opportunity to denounce those jihad plots and the Islamic doctrines of warfare and supremacism that inspired them in the first place?
No, Robert. Clearly Spencer is starting with the assumption that all Muslims are terrorists unless they declare otherwise. From that point of view in order to show that Muslims are not terrorists they must say so. But for the rest of us who start with the assumption that Muslims are not terrorists they need do nothing to show us that they are not.
But Hassen Abdellah, asked on the morning of the prayer meeting to denounce these plots, demurred, saying that the event was not meant for denunciations.
No link to a source but here is what he told Fox News in an interview:
Muslims, individually and collectively, repudiate these acts, but I don't think tomorrow is the place for us to repudiate specific acts. Tomorrow is about our faith; it's not about politics. Because if we involve politics in the Jummah prayer, then what we'll do is only bring on other controversies. We're trying to bring people together.
Hardly refusing to address the question simply not wanting to bring politics into the event which is what they said from the start.
Yet Brooklyn imam Abdul Malik, who preached the sermon at the gathering, found ample time to denounce the immorality of American popular culture and indulge in several oblique denunciations of Christianity. He emphatically recommended Islam as the cure for America's ills - and this was a political prescription, not solely a religious one.
Again no source for this other than Spencer's claim. But here is what he did tell the crowd:
But I will say something it took me my whole adult life to come to: America is not perfect, but I want to tell the truth: It is one of the best places in the world to live.
Hardly sounds like a raving Islamist!

I spoke to several Muslims at the event; all said they'd like to see Islamic law, Sharia, come to the United States - a sentiment rife with political implications that remain a matter of indifference on the part of officials sworn to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution.

Once more just the word of Robert Spencer to go on and I'm sure it is easy to find people in a crowd of 3,000 who would like to see at least elements of Sharia adopted in the US. Did any of these people suggest that Sharia should be imposed? If I went into a crowd of Christians I bet I could find several who would say that abortion should be banned and homosexuals locked up. In fact, some Christian protesters at the event were shouting:
Abortion is Murder!! Homosexuality is Sin!! Islam is a Lie!!
So even if true it indicates very little. Ask any religious Jews whether they want to see the Messiah arrive and Jewish Law return and they will say "yes". Isn't it easy to say that Jews want to see Jewish law come to the United States?
Islam on Capitol Hill was supposed to show that Muslims are not terrorists. Yet not a word was said at the event about the Muslims arrested for terrorist activity that same week, or any assurances given that the assembled Muslims were working to root out this problem from the Islamic community.
Again, Spencer starts with the assumption that all Muslims are terrorists or supporters unless they say otherwise. In reality, Muslims are not terrorists and therefore need not say or do anything to prove that. The event was never supposed to be political, it was designed to show Muslims as people and for some that is impossible. Muslims are all about terrorism for Spencer - they either denounce it or they support it.
What's more, the Islamic terrorists' stated goal is the imposition of Sharia, with its denial of free speech and legal equality, and that seemed to be just fine with most of those [my italics] who prayed Jummah prayer on Capitol Hill on Friday.
Where did this come from? Even if we accept Spencer's account that the "several Muslims" he spoke to were foaming-at-the-mouth Islamists he hardly spoke to most of the people there.

In conclusion, Spencer bemoans the lack of any specific denunciation because for him Muslims are all about terrorism. They must denounce it every time they gather or else they support it.

It was hardly a comforting message to give to free Americans.

On the contrary - it is very comforting to free Americans to know that Muslims are people; it just doesn't fit with Spencer's world view.