Archive for Anjem Choudary

Robert Spencer to Debate Achmed the Dead Terrorist and The Dictator

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2012 by loonwatch

Sheila Musaji of The American Muslim (TAM) has been keeping a close eye on the loons who write for Jihad Watch.  The chief loon of JW, Robert Spencer, had initially been slated to debate David Wood, another Christian loon like himself.  Realizing no doubt that they are on the same side of the loony equation, the debate has been scrapped.  Instead, both Spencer and Wood have agreed to face off against Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri.

As Musaji presciently noted, “[b]oth Choudary and Bakri are part of the Muslim lunatic fringe.”  The nefarious duo are very familiar to the Muslim community of the U.K., not because they have a large following (they don’t), but because they are routinely trotted out by anti-Muslim right-wingers.  The set-up is always the same: a right-winger pundit will invite one of these two clowns onto their show for a “debate.” By making the hated Choudary and Bakri the representative for the Muslim side, the debate is of course already won.  Muslims are left thinking, “with friends like these, who needs enemies…”

Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri are absolutely despised by the vast majority of the Muslim community, even by the ultra-conservative and radical Muslims they pretend to represent.   They are caricatures, just one step away from being Achmed the Dead Terrorist or a character thought up by Sacha Baron Cohen (like Ali G or Admiral General Aladeen, A.K.A. The Dictator).  Choudary and Bakri play the part of terrorists and radical Islamists, which is why hateful Islamophobes love giving them ample air time: look at how crazy those Moozlums are!

It’s absolutely no surprise then that Robert Spencer and David Wood, two loons in their own right, would debate two even loonier loons.  Spencer wastes his time engaging such unserious clowns, because–just as Sheila Musaji noted long time ago–he has a pattern of seeking out complete fools to debate with so that he can then crow in victory afterward.  Meanwhile, Spencer will doggedly avoid debating anyone (1) with a serious grasp of knowledge of the topic at hand and (2) the debating skill to back it up.  And of course, (3) anyone named Danios.  What’s interesting is that even Robert Spencer’s debating partner, David Wood, seemed to imply on his website that Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri are weak debaters.  Wood agrees with Choudary and Bakri’s view that Muhammad existed, but he doesn’t think that they will be able to make the convincing argument.  Why not just debate Achmed the Dead Terrorist or The Dictator?  It would certainly be just as enlightening and perhaps a bit more entertaining.

Robert Spencer’s homepage boldly declares that he is “the acclaimed scholar of Islam”, and yet he has no educational qualifications to validate that lofty claim.  In fact, all he has is an M.A. in Christian studies…If I get an M.A. in Buddhist studies, does that mean I get to be “the acclaimed scholar of Judaism”?  Spencer has never had his work submitted for peer review in the academic world, and so his arguments–while they certainly might pass off in the non-scholarly world–have never been tested by the real experts in the field.  Spencer’s version of peer-review is debating the equivalent of Achmed the Dead Terrorist and The Dictator.

In any case, let’s not beat around the bush.  It’s me in particular who Robert Spencer fears. One would think that he would want to debate me now that I’ve won the Brass Crescent Award for Best Writer last year (and was runner-up the year before), in no small part due to my writings against Spencer.  I have been refuting his book for a long time now, decimating his arguments one by one.  Spencer can’t respond intelligently, so of course, he naturally fears facing off in debate.  It has now officially been 684 days–that’s 1 year, 10 months, and 14 days–since I agreed to have a radio debate with Robert Spencer.  In that time, Spencer has furiously been generating excuse after excuse to avoid the debate.

Spencer continues to use my anonymity as an excuse to cover up his cowardice.  I’m an anonymous blogger and I have expressed my intent in preserving that anonymity for now.  Yet, Spencer repeatedly insists on a public venue–so that I “show my face”–knowing full well that I won’t accept such a condition.  In this way, Spencer gets out of the debate and can then disingenuously claim that I was the cause of the impasse.

Robert Spencer engages in typical right-winger projection: look how cowardly Danios is that he doesn’t show his face.  But, it is Spencer who is the coward, at least when it comes to defending his views.  What difference does it make who I am or what I look like?  The obvious answer is that Spencer wants to engage in ad hominem attacks against me, instead of focusing on the substantive value of his arguments, which my writings have shown to be severely lacking.  It’s now quite evident to all who want to see it: my refutations of his book are irrefutable.  I know it, you know it, he knows it.

And that’s why Robert Spencer will keep running away from me.  Instead, he’ll debate fools and loons.  Yawn, what’s new?

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

*  *  *  *  *

Here is Sheila Musaji’s article from TAM:

David Wood and Robert Spencer “Debate”?

by Sheila Musaji

David Wood is not as well known as Robert Spencer, so a little background is in order.  Wood is an Evangelical pastor and has a series of polemical articles on Answering Islam.  His focus seems to be on anti-Muslim polemics.

Kiera Feldman reported on an incident in 2010:

Organized by Stop the Islamization of America, the first rally against the “Ground Zero mosque” was held in a plaza near the site of the Twin Towers on June 6th—D-Day. “We are not hatemongerers!” Pamela Hall proclaimed from the podium. “We just want our families and our future to be safe from the racist, bigoted ideology that murdered 3,000 people.” In the crowd, signs ranged from “Everything I need to know about Islam, I learned on 9/11” to crude drawings of Mohammed with the label “beast.”

Toward the end of the rally, two dark-skinned men were overheard speaking Arabic. The crowd transformed into an angry mob, surrounded the men, and shouted, “go home” and “get out.” The Bergen Record reported that the two scared men, Joseph Nasralla and Karam El Masry, had to be extricated by police. It turned out they weren’t even Muslim. They were Egyptian Coptic Christians who’d trekked cross-country from California to join the cause against the “Ground Zero mosque.” Nasralla later told John Hawkins of Right Wing News that the Record coverage was indeed accurate, adding that he’d been shoved and his camera knocked to the ground. “He said he was worried that things might have really gotten out of hand if the police hadn’t escorted him and Karam El Masry away,” Hawkins wrote.

“I actually caused that by accident,” an evangelical pastor named David Wood told me with a chuckle. He meant the near race riot. Wood is a PhD student in philosophy at a respectable New York institution whose name he didn’t want me to use. Passionate about proselytizing to Muslims, Wood’s expertise is Christian apologetics, the practice of arguing unbelievers into faith. He is best known as the creator of a viral video “Of Mosques and Men,” which argues all Muslims—even those who seem “peaceful,” like “good citizens in public”—had an urge to “smile when there were terrorist attacks.” But Wood allows himself a little laugh about violence when Muslims are on the receiving end.

As he tells the story of that day, “[The Copts] were complaining about not having anything to hand out. And I said, ‘I’ve got some pamphlets on Islam, specifically on whether Islam is a religion of peace.” The pamphlets contained passages of the Qur’an selected to suggest the answer is no. “People thought they were there to defend the mosque and promote Islam,” Wood explained. “Lots of people were fired up about that.” But it was a goofy case of mistaken identity, a funny little mix-up. “The guys who were doing it were actually Christians,” Wood told me as if clearing up the whole matter. “They weren’t Muslims.” In other words: the mob’s anger and actions were justified, but misdirected. Aim better next time?

Garibaldi of Loonwatch has written exposes about Wood in two articles here and here

Wood and Robert Spencer will have a “debate” this coming Sunday on the thesis of Spencer’s new book Did Muhammad Exist?  This “debate” will be moderated by Pamela Geller.  That may be the only time that you will see the combination of Pamela Geller and moderation in the same sentence.

Wood made the “challenge to a debate” by video and Spencer accepted the “challenge”.

Spencer is still falsely claiming that Muslims are afraid to debate him, and says in his acceptance: So David Wood will do their work for them.  Read my article Danios vs Spencer:  18 months and Spencer still avoiding a debate for the Saga of Spencer’s avoidance of a debate with Danios.  See The Muslim Communities Useful Idiots for information on some of Spencer’s past debates with Muslims, and why I believe that engaging with bigots is not productive.

These are not individuals who hold respectable, if controversial opinions.  These are bigots, and engaging them in such a forum only provides them with some veneer of respectability.

Hosts like Hannity, or Bolling can claim that they have been “fair and balanced” because they included a Muslim.  And, full time, paid mercenaries in a “holy war” against Islam like Spencer, will claim “victory” no matter what the outcome.  If they have no “facts” that will stand up to scrutiny, they will stoop to ridiculous slurs, as they did with Christina Abraham.  And, when all else fails, if any Muslim says anything reasonable, they will say that it is taqiyya.

This sort of devious, unethical, and downright childish behavior, is not surprising from individuals who consistently “get it wrong” when it comes to Islam and Muslims, and who see no ethical problem with simply removing articles from a site when they are proven to be inaccurate.  Not too surprising for individuals who are co-founders (Spencer & Geller) of a group, Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  The group is also described by the ADL in the following terms: “Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), created in 2009, promotes a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the guise of fighting radical Islam. The group seeks to rouse public fears by consistently vilifying the Islamic faith and asserting the existence of an Islamic conspiracy to destroy “American” values. The organization warns of the encroachment of shari’a, or Islamic law, and encourages Muslims to leave what it describes as the “falsity of Islam.”

I believe that it is not “cowardly” to leave these folks alone, just sensible.   It is not that their claims cannot be, and have not been answered, but rather that they have proven themselves time and time again to be untrustworthy and dishonorable in both their tactics and their responses to reasoned argument.

Spencer and Wood seem to have a mutual admiration society.  Spencer posted a notice about the “debate” with a note to watch Wood’s video, and Wood posted a notice with a note to read Spencer’s book.

The notice points out that this “debate” will be right after Geller and Spencer’s “Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference” (their most recent anti-Muslim hate fest) ends.  It is worth noting that David Wood will be a speaker at Spencer and Geller’s conference.  I’m sure their promotional video will be more exciting than the actual “debate”.

It seems pretty obvious that rather than a debate, this is a calculated publicity stunt to gain a little more notoriety for their conference, and to publicize Spencer’s book.  I’m sure that they will both have an opportunity to get in a few anti-Muslim zingers in the course of this “debate”.  Let the bigots talk among themselves.

UPDATE 4/30/2012

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more strange.  Robert Spencer just posted a new notice about tonights “debate”.  The debate is now to be between Spencer and Wood (on the same side) versus Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri.

Both Choudary and Bakri are part of the Muslim lunatic fringe.  Just type their names or the term lunatic fringe into our TAM search engine for more information on these disreputable folks.

I’m curious as to how Spencer is going to talk to Omar Bakri since the last I heard he had been denied re-entry to England, and arrested in Lebanon.

TPM: Tension amongst anti-Sharia’ Islamophobes and More Shocking Video

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon People, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2011 by loonwatch

Ryan J. Riley of TPMuckracker reported on two anti-Sharia’ protests being led by Islamophobes Terry Jones and Frank Gaffney in Washington D.C. The protests were supposed to be in response to a “pro-Sharia’” rally by goonish buffoon and well known media whore Anjem Choudary. Choudary canceled his rally, but the anti-Sharia advocated went ahead with their rally. Of course it turned into a bit of a joke with the usual anti-Islam and anti-Muslim message.

Gaffney, Jones Fight For Soul Of Anti-Sharia Movement At Rally By White House (VIDEO)

Rev. Terry Jones, the man who rose to national prominence last fall when he announced (but later backed off of) a plan to burn copies of the Koran, was clad in a beat-up black leather jacket when he showed up to a park across the street from the White House a few minutes before noon on Thursday.

His black sunglasses resting a few inches above his signature handlebar mustache, Jones hopped up on a bench in Lafayette Park and announced that his organization Stand Up America was holding a rally.

An aide to Frank Gaffney, the founder and president of the American Center for Security Policy, didn’t take kindly to that and quickly told the National Park Service that Jones wasn’t a part of their group and didn’t have a permit for his rally. So Jones and his crowd, many of them decked out in biker gang gear, set up shop in the midst of Pennsylvania Avenue.

The common enemy of both groups was radical Muslim Anjem Choudary, a London-based preacher who has been dubbed a “media whore” and has already made the rounds on Fox News promoting his “Sharia4America” rally, which was postponed just a few hours before it was supposed to begin on Thursday.

Jones claimed credit for Choudary’s decision not to show up. But the Gaffney team apparently wasn’t eager to have their event usurped by the mustachioed pastor from Florida.

“I don’t know who they are. We were just going to stand there on the bench, seemed like a good place to speak, but I guess they had reserved that,” Jones told TPM. “Then I heard somebody jump up and say ‘they’re not associated with us!’ So I honestly don’t know who they are.”

Gaffney told TPM after his press conference that he “didn’t see any squabble” when Jones showed up to the park, but said Jones “is not associated with us” and “didn’t have a permit.”

“I have no association with him at all,” Gaffney said, adding that he “was not inclined to share” his view on Jones.

So despite their common enemy, there is a ideological and tactical divide between the Gaffney and Jones camps.

“It’s a difference of approach, and some of it is territorial,” said one member of team Gaffney who requested anonymity. “One is more comprehensive and professional — he’s got his whole group behind him — whereas Terry just has his biker crew. One is more intellectual, the other is more agitated. One is based on patriotism and constitutional law, the other is based on theology.”

The formal events had both ended but attendees were still hanging around by the time a Muslim man holding a Starbucks cup and wearing a bluish winter coat with writing on the back began chanting Arabic prayers in front of the White House. That’s when attendees of both rallies merged around the man soon breaking into chants of “U.S.A.” and “Jesus” and renditions of “Amazing Grace.” Those throwing tiny crosses at the man’s feet appeared to be from the Jones camp.

“Is he yelling U.S.A.?” asks one man in the crowd. “It doesn’t matter — he’s anti-women, he’s anti-freedom,” one woman said. “Take it back to your own country!” said another man. “No Sharia law!” shouted another.

As the man kept worshipping and the crowd thinned out, Jones ran into Randall Terry, the militant anti-abortion activist who has been churning out the type of media coverage Jones’ Koran burning stunt got for years.

“You should’a burned the Korans by the way, you blinked. You should’a burned them,” Terry said.

Thanks to a “International Judge the Koran” event Jones and his group have in the works for March 20, he may get a shot to do just that — provided that’s how the people vote on his website. If the people decide the Koran deserves to be burned, that’s just what they’ll do.

“We’ll definitely do it, yes,” Jones said.

I don’t know where this Muslim man came from, from the report below it seems he was not there for the Choudary rally but actually shows up every couple of days to pray near the White House. Why? I have no idea. He also has something written on his back which I can’t quite make out, but the video below shows him being subjected to something along the lines of what happened at Yorba Linda. He is peaceful and non-confrontational and the crowd levels heavy amounts of invective his way. Maybe he was trying to send a message of defiance, that “I don’t care what you think, and that this is a free country”?

Here is the report from Riley on the Muslim man who was praying:

Anti-Muslim Protestor Throws Crosses At Feet Of Man Praying By White House (VIDEO)

A group of anti-Sharia protestors who planned to counter-protest the planned pro-Sharia rally by the radical provocateur Anjem Choudary in front of the White House on Thursday found themselves without an opponent to debate.

The counter rally planned by Frank Gaffney in response to Choudary’s pro-Sharia demonstration was left without a raison d’etre after Choudary failed to show up as he’d previously announced (and promoted on Fox News). That left Gaffney and his group preaching to the choir so to speak as they denounced Sharia law to their followers as well as media and curious onlookers.

But just as the rally was dying out, a Muslim man who showed up to pray in front of the White House. He was quickly surrounded by a large group of protestors who shouted an array of insults at him: mocking him for drinking Starbucks coffee, telling him to go back to his country and even throwing tiny crosses at his feet as he prayed. I captured the scene in the video below.

He’s still worshipping as I write this, but the anti-Sharia crowd is beginning to thin out. A police officer on the scene told me the man showed up to pray at the White House every couple days.

I’ll have more on the counter protest this afternoon.

 

Salon.com: Fox’s Favorite Muslim radical

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2011 by loonwatch

Elliot’s main point echoes a lot of what we were saying in our article, Islam and the Media in the Age of Islamophobiapalooza.

Fox’s favorite Muslim radical

By Justin Elliot

On Thursday, the radical Muslim and veteran provocateur Anjem Choudary plans to hold a demonstration in front of the White House calling for an extreme form of sharia to reign in America.

Whether the protest actually goes forward — there’s a real chance it won’t, if Choudary’s past stunts are any guide — doesn’t really matter. Choudary, who is known for applauding terrorism and calling for stonings of gay people and the overthrow of democratic governments, has already logged several appearances on Fox and CNN, generated a bunch of articles in the right-wing press, and even prompted a member of Congress to demand that he be banned from the country. All that in the last month.

Choudary is a London-based preacher who has over the past decade become the face of radical Islam in the British press — especially in the tabloids, and even more especially the right-wing papers owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. — despite having no religious credentials and virtually no public support. In fact, according to those who have tracked his career in Britain, Choudary is wholly a press creation.

“He’s a media whore,” says Mehdi Hasan, a senior editor at the New Statesman who has covered Choudary. “There are real Islamist groups that can get crowds together but his is not one of them. He doesn’t have the numbers to make good on his claims. What he does have is a media that’s very happy to play the game with him.”

Now, Choudary, 43, is using the same formula — making deliberately offensive statements and trumpeting plans for provocative demonstrations — in the United States, where the media has proved all too willing to accommodate him. He can be understood as the Muslim analogue of Terry Jones, the obscure Florida preacher who created an international controversy last year with plans for a “Burn the Quran Day.” He is a radical with minuscule public support, but one who can, given enough free airtime, do real-world damage.

Last month on Fox Sean Hannity had a sparring match with the preacher that ended with Hannity calling him “one sick, miserable, evil SOB.” (It’s worth noting that Fox has the same parent company, News Corp., as some of the U.K. tabloids that obsessively cover Choudary.) Here’s a taste of the exchange:

Two weeks later, Choudary was back on the network, where an angry Gretchen Carlson told him that “I can tell you one thing, Americans don’t want sharia law.” Adam Serwer has argued that Choudary is, for Fox, a “cartoonish buffoon who can be counted on to confirm every stereotype about Islam and Muslims.”

But it’s not just Fox. Late last year Eliot Spitzer had Choudary on CNN and heroically derided him as a “violent and heinous terrorist.” In February, Spitzer hosted him again to argue that the revolution in Egypt was an “Islamist uprising.” Choudary has also been on programs with ABC’s Christiane Amanpour and CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.

So where did Choudary come from? Born and raised in Britain, his rise to prominence came as the right-hand man of Omar Bakri, a founder of the extremist group Al Muhajiroun. Like Choudary today, Bakri was a press-hungry provocateur, but he also played a role “in the radicalization of some young men,” according to the BBC. Bakri left the U.K. for Lebanon after the 7/7 bombings in 2005. The British government has since barred him from re-entering the country, and Bakri has been charged in Lebanon with forming a militant group to undermine the government there.

In Bakri’s absence, Choudary became the leader of Al Muhajiroun’s successor group, Islam4UK. Both were proscribed in 2010 under a British law that allows for groups to be banned if they “unlawfully glorify the commission or preparation of acts of terrorism.”

(Choudary has not always been so devout. The Daily Mail published an exposélast year revealing that, while he was student at Southampton University, he had been a hard-partier who gambled, drank, used drugs, looked at porn and had sex with Christian women. The paper had pictures to prove most of the charges.)

When I spoke to Choudary Tuesday, he refused to discuss how many followers he had, beyond claiming that he can attract 150 people to his lectures. “I’m not going to give you details of our administration,” he said. But according to Inayat Bunglawala, a Muslim commentator who is involved in combatting extremism in Britain, Choudary’s record for getting large numbers of people to turn out to events is thin. Bunglawala points to a 2009 demonstration at a parade in the town of Luton in which Choudary and his cohort held signs assailing British troops returning from Iraq as “butchers” and “terrorists.”

Choudary and some of his followers had advertised the event by leafletting for a week among the 20,000-strong Muslim population in the town, says Bunglawala, who has closely tracked Choudary’s career. But the turnout was vanishingly small. “Literally only 20 people showed up and yet they got the front pages of just about every right-wing tabloid the next day. Even the BBC gave them a lot of coverage on that.” Bunglawala observes: “It’s almost a symbiotic relationship between Choudary and the right-wing papers.”

Choudary also has a long history of publicizing demonstrations that never actually happen. In 2009, for example, he planned a “March for Sharia” in central London that drew widespread press attention. The promotional effort included Photoshopped images of what Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square would look like under Choudary’s vision of the caliphate, with minarets and the like. But at the last minute, he canceled the event, claiming threats from right-wing groups.

None of this has stopped the tabloids from regularly calling Choudary to weigh in on pretty much anything in the news. There is, for example, this typical lead from a recent Daily Star piece: “Hate preacher Anjem Choudary last night urged a Muslim uprising against the royal wedding … He said it would be against Islam for Muslims to celebrate the nuptials.”

Choudary does his part by making himself extremely easy to reach; his mobile phone number is posted all over his website and he responded to my e-mail seeking an interview in just a few hours. He even once agreed to have a bull session over milkshakes with Vice Magazine, which noted his favorite flavor is chocolate.

Now, in advance of the planned “Shariah4America” demonstration in Washington, Choudary is following a familiar script. His group has postedimages online of the White House with minarets and the Statue of Liberty wearing a veil. It’s not hyperbole to say that everything he does is for media consumption. When I asked him about a 2003 episode in which Al Muhajiroun unveiled posters hailing the Sept. 11 hijackers as the “Magnificent 19,” Choudary was candid: “It was a media ploy in order to attract the attention of the media and the general public about why such things take place.”

Whether or not the demonstration actually happens Thursday, the Choudary phenomenon is at least as much about the laziness — and, arguably, irresponsbility — of the media as it is about Islam. Says terrorism analyst Daveed Gartenstein-Ross: “One lesson from our experience with would-be Quran burner Terry Jones is that when fringe or relatively fringe figures … are given a great amount of media exposure, it generally increases their power rather than diminishing it. Unfortunately, the media either has not absorbed that lesson, or else does not want to.”

Justin Elliott is a Salon reporter. Reach him by email at jelliott@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin More: Justin Elliott