|Intro||American journalist, author and blogger|
|A.K.A.||Robert Bruce Spencer|
|Is||Internet personality Blogger Writer Journalist|
|From||United States of America|
|Type||Internet Journalism Literature|
|Birth||27 February 1962|
Robert Bruce Spencer is an American anti-Muslim author, blogger and one of the key figures of the counter-jihad movement. Spencer describes himself as "the 'good' kind of Islamophobe". His published books include two New York Times bestsellers.
In 2003 he founded and has since directed a blog that tracks Islamic extremism known as Jihad Watch. He co-founded the anti-Muslim group Stop Islamization of America (American Freedom Defense Initiative) with blogger Pamela Geller. Reports that two of Spencer's books were listed in FBI training materials and that he had given seminars to various law enforcement units in the United States stirred controversy. He has frequently appeared on Fox News. In 2013 the UK Home Office barred Spencer from travel to the UK for 3 to 5 years for "making statements that may foster hatred that might lead to inter-community violence".
Spencer was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church and joined the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in 1984. In a 2006 interview, Spencer stated that his grandparents were forced to emigrate from an area that is now part of Turkey because they were Christians. According to a 2010 interview in New York magazine, Spencer's father worked for the Voice of America during the Cold War, and in his younger days, Spencer himself worked at Revolution Books, a Maoist bookstore in New York City founded by Robert Avakian.
Spencer received an M.A. in 1986 in religious studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His masters thesis was on Catholic history. He has said he has been studying Islamic theology, law, and history since 1980. He worked in think tanks for more than 20 years, and in 2002–2003 was an adjunct fellow with the Free Congress Foundation. Spencer named Paul Weyrich, also a Melkite Catholic, as a mentor of his writings on Islam. Spencer writes, "Paul Weyrich taught me a great deal, by word and by example – about how to deal both personally and professionally with the slanders and smears that are a daily aspect of this work."
Spencer was criticized by clergy in the Catholic Church because of his views on Islam. He left the church in 2016 to return to the Greek Orthodox Church as a result of "personal reflection and historical study".
Views on Islam
Spencer is known for his anti-Muslim views. He describes himself as an Islamophobe of "the 'good' kind", and comments on radical Islam.
Spencer co-founded the anti-Muslim group Stop Islamization of America (also known as the American Freedom Defense Initiative) with Pamela Geller in 2010. The organization is designated as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. He and Geller led a campaign to stop the building of Park51, an Islamic community center near the World Trade Center, which they referred to as the "Ground Zero Mosque".
In 2009, Spencer blamed then-president Barack Obama himself for false rumors that Obama was a "secret Muslim".
In July 2011, Wired reported that two of Spencer's books were listed in FBI training materials. Both The Truth About Muhammad and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam were recommended for agents hoping to better understand Islam.
Anders Breivik, the Norwegian spree killer behind the 2011 Norway terrorist attacks which killed 77, cited Spencer 64 times in his manifesto and wrote of him, "About Islam I recommend essentially everything written by Robert Spencer." Spencer condemned Breivik and said he was unfairly blamed by the media for the attack.
The government of Pakistan banned Spencer's book, The Truth About Muhammad, in 2016, citing "objectionable material" as the cause. Onward Muslim Soldiers was banned in Malaysia in 2007.
In an October 2010 news article, an investigative report by The Tennessean described Spencer as one of several individuals who "... cash in on spreading hate and fear about Islam." Tennessean investigation concluded: "IRS filings from 2008 show that Robert Spencer earned $132,537 from the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and Horowitz pocketed over $400,000 for himself in just one year."
On April 13, 2017, Spencer spoke at the Truman State University despite protests and a petition against him. He was invited by the Young America's Foundation. On May 1, 2017, Spencer spoke at the University of Buffalo. There he was shouted down and heckled. On May 3, 2017, Spencer spoke at Gettysburg College; 375 alumni urged the college president Janet Morgan Riggs to cancel the speech, but the event went on as planned. Spencer said, "There is one kind of diversity that is not valued generally in an academic setting and that is intellectual diversity." On November 14, 2017, Spencer spoke at Stanford University. Many students walked out during the event.
Spencer said that "a young Icelandic Leftist" poisoned him in 2017 in Reykjavik, Iceland. Spencer also criticized the doctor who then treated him and the police who investigated.
Ban from entering the UK
On June 26, 2013, Spencer and Pamela Geller were banned from entering the UK. They were due to speak at an English Defence League march in Woolwich, south London, where Drummer Lee Rigby was killed. Home Secretary Theresa May informed Spencer and Geller that their presence in the UK would "not be conducive to the public good".
A letter from the UK Home Office stated that this decision is based on Spencer's statement that Islam "is a religion or a belief system that mandates warfare against unbelievers for the purpose of establishing a societal model that is absolutely incompatible with Western society. ...Because of media and general government unwillingness to face the sources of Islamic terrorism these things remain largely unknown."
The decision was to stand for between three and five years. The ban followed a concerted campaign by the UK anti-racism organization Hope not Hate, which said it had collected 26,000 signatures for a petition to the Home Secretary. Spencer and Geller contested the ban, but in 2015 the British Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal, arguing that "this was a public order case where the police had advised that significant public disorder and serious violence might ensue from the proposed visit."
The ban was criticized by Douglas Murray. He stated that Islamist hate preachers are still allowed to enter the UK.