Robert Spencer is a prolific author and blogger widely known for his criticisms of Muslims. Despite having no academic background or formal training in Islam, Spencer has positioned himself as an expert on the religion and is treated as such among organized anti-Muslim and far-Right circles.
Amongst those circles, Spencer continually claims that Islam and the Qur’an carry an inherent violence. For example, Spencer has said that “Islam is not a religion of peace. It has an inherently political character that is being brought to the West by immigrants, and will cause more trouble in the future.”
Spencer runs the blog Jihad Watch, which is funded by the David Horowitz Freedom Center (DHFC). Through that funding, Spencer spends his days scouring the Internet and aggregating the most obscure news stories involving Muslims and mentions of Islam in order to provide “evidence” for bigotry that permeates his blog. He also regularly writes for other DHFC platforms, including the racist FrontPage Magazine. He is often a keynote speaker at Horowitz’s retreats and conferences, as well.
Spencer’s writings and views on Islam were extreme enough to attract the attention of Norwegian terrorist and mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik. In fact, Spencer and Jihad Watch were cited 162 times – by far the most widely cited sources – in Breivik’s hate-filled manifesto.
As troubling as that seems, the fact that Spencer and his books were once utilized as counter-terrorism training resources by U.S. government agencies and law enforcement is further disturbing. This came to an end after it was revealed Spencer’s writings were a major influence on Breivik, something he remains bitter about to this day.
Spencer also keeps close company with fellow blogger and partner-in-hate Pamela Geller. He serves as vice-president for the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), two groups he co-founded with Geller. Both are classified as hate groups by numerous civil rights organizations.
In 2009, Geller and Spencer began to garner national attention when they became prominent opponents to the construction of an Islamic cultural center in Lower Manhattan. The duo embarked on a fierce smear campaign, referring to the center as the “Ground Zero mosque” and accusing the developers of having ties to radical extremists. Geller and Spencer even went as far as to say Muslims worldwide would view it as a victory monument built on “conquered land.”
In 2010, the pair staged a rally in Lower Manhattan protesting the center, which drew large crowds both in favor and against the pair’s bigotry. Nevertheless, the campaign propelled the duo from the blogosphere of organized racism and into the mainstream media, solidifying them as leading figures within the organized anti-Muslim movement. In 2011, Spencer and Geller went as far as to co-produce a film entitled, “The Ground Zero Mosque: Second Wave of the 9/11 Attacks.”
In 2013, Spencer and Geller were banned from entering the United Kingdom after it was announced they would address an English Defence League (EDL) gathering in Woolwich. The Home Secretary said that their visit was “not conducive to the public good.” Both Spencer and Geller complained that Britain was acting like a “de facto Islamic state,” laughably claiming that the “nation that gave the world the Magna Carta is dead.”
Although Spencer is clearly a political extremist, he stills remains a prominent voice in the world of organized hate. With his efforts to inject his anti-Muslim rhetoric into mainstream culture on-going, especially through Jihad Watch, Spencer’s drive to spread hateful messages must be regarded seriously.