Robert Spencer speaks in Grande Prairie

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Robert Spencer speaks in Grande Prairie, Alberta, on Friday, April 29, during a Canadian tour.

I’m a reporter in Grande Prairie, Alberta. I created this blog simply to cover Robert Spencer’s talk here. I thought this was worth doing, since you will not find any mainstream media coverage of what he actually said while here in Canada (see the CBC’s blatant hatchet job here). 

More than 100 people came to hear Robert Spencer speak about Islam during his stop in Grande Prairie on Friday.

The New York Times best-selling author has appeared on CTV, Fox News, BBC and other networks to discuss Islamic terrorism. His website, Jihad Watch, seeks to call public attention to the ideology motivating Islamic terrorism.

“The longer we misapprehend this problem, and the longer we keep our heads in the sand about it and deny what it’s really all about, the more we will not be able to deal with it adequately and the more lethal it will grow,” Spencer said.

In the years since 9/11, it has become taboo to discuss the ideology that Muslim terrorists themselves cite as their source of motivation, Spencer said. The refrain among Western political leaders is that Islam is a religion of peace and self-proclaimed jihadists actually have nothing to do with it. 

Spencer said this is dangerous, for an obvious reason: “You cannot defeat an enemy you don’t understand.”

The key point that the political and media class don’t want to admit, according to Spencer, is that Islamic terror attacks are inspired by a straightforward reading of the religion’s sacred texts, the Koran and the Hadiths.

Of particular concern is the Koran’s promise of Paradise for believers who “fight in God’s way; they kill and are killed.”

“This is why we see people strap bombs to themselves and go and blow themselves up in a crowd of infidels,” Spencer said. “Because they know that if they kill in the way of Allah, Paradise is promised to them.”

Spencer acknowledges plenty of Muslims aren’t even particularly religious, let alone fundamentalist. However, those who devoutly believe what the Koran tells them present a problem for secular societies even if they don’t resort to violence, he added. This is because Islam comes with a built-in political system, one which believers think is divine.

Spencer also points out that the Koran incites hatred against Jews and Christians, calling them “the most vile of created beings.” Muslims, in contrast, are “the best of people.”

This means some Muslims come to the West with a belief in the superiority of their own societal model and the inferiority of Western secular society, Spencer said. While they may not support terrorism, they do support curtailing basic liberties such as the freedom of speech.

Britain’s Channel 4 last month released the results of a survey in which 68% of British Muslims said they believed people who “insult Islam” should be arrested and prosecuted.

A member of Spencer’s audience on Friday suggested his talks contribute to “Islamophobia.” Spencer said this phrase is deliberately used to place Islam beyond criticism and make Westerners feel guilty for talking about Islamic terrorism.

Islamophobia is a term that was actually conceived by the Muslim Brotherhood in order to manipulate and intimidate people into thinking that it’s wrong to oppose jihad terror,” he said.

Spencer was invited to speak by a local group called Concerned Canadians for Canadian Values.

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So, is Spencer right, or is he the hate-monger portrayed by the CBC?

I’m no Islamic scholar, but I’ve just finished reading the Koran and it is true that it incites hatred and violence against Jews, Christians and non-believers in general (not to mention “hypocrites,” or Muslims who aren’t sufficiently pious). This is not cherry-picking one or two passages; it’s repeated monotonously in almost every single surah. And the phrasing is not vague or esoteric: it is clear and explicit (even graphic). It is undeniable that the jihadists are carrying out what the Koran told them (the killer of Drummer Lee Rigby specifically cited the Koran to justify what he did).

What about Spencer’s explanation of jihad?

The word literally means something like “struggle,” as Spencer said. “But the primary struggle in Islamic theology is warfare against unbelievers.”

Is it true? It certainly was historically. Here’s the renowned Middle Eastern scholar Bernard Lewis, in his 1993 book Islam and the West:

From an early date Muslim law laid down, as one of the principal obligations of the head of the Muslim state and community, the conduct of jihad … Until fairly recent times it was usually, though not universally, understood in a military sense. It was a Muslim duty–collective in attack, individual in defence–to fight in the war against the unbelievers. In principle, this war was to continue until all mankind either embraced Islam or submitted to the authority of the Muslim state.

Yes, this is the historic understanding of jihad; some Muslims, thankfully, consider it irrelevant to today’s context. But the whole point of groups like Islamic State, and of the Islamic revivalist movement more broadly, is to get back to the original Islam.

But, as Spencer said Friday, these basic facts, which should logically be our starting point, have been taken off the table by the political and media class.

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