A disparity in coverage

There is a conference this weekend at the Eastern Michigan University’s Student center entitled “Is Islam a Religion of Peace?” This symposium was coordinated by Al Kresta of Ave Maria Radio.

Featured debaters will be Robert Spencer, director of JihadWatch.org facing off against Shadid Lewis, regional director of the Muslim Debate Initiative in the US, on the question “Is Islam a Religion of Peace?”

Muslim columnist for the Turkish News Mustafa Akyol will debate Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center on “Can Islam Support Religious Liberty?

So this is not a one-sided discussion of the topic, but a debate regarding the question.

Only recently has there been really any coverage of this event. Of course most of the coverage surrounds Robert Spencer.

There is an interesting disparity in coverage here to some extent regarding the giddy greeting the book “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” by Reza Aslan has caused.

Nathan Lean from Aslan Media (Reza Aslan) follows Robert Spencer around the country trying to get him banned from speaking. Lean has succeeded on two occasions due to a failure of leadership, but his charges are bogus. He stirs up emotion and fear while painting Robert as a hate-monger. As Ave Maria Radio prepares for its Symposium Debate this weekend Nathan Lane is at it again. He attempted to intimidate Eastern Michigan University, the venue of the event, and us. He has failed. Apparently he believes the Muslims that are taking part in the debates are ill-equipped to defend their religious beliefs – and his. We do not . Join us as we prove that difficult topics can be debated without resorting to mane-calling and intimidation techniques.

Robert Spencer has not got quite the warm attention from the media that Aslan has got, in fact really in attention he gets is to paint him as an “Anti-Muslim bigot.” While really the only headlines calling Aslan “Anti-Christian” mostly come from a rhetorical question in a Time magazine headline that answers the question that he is not.

The very unscholarly methods that Aslan used and the many mistakes he makes only prove that when it comes to Christianity and the media any stick will do.

When Robert Spencer wrote in 2012 the book “Did Muhammad Exist?: An Inquiry into Islam’s Obscure Origins” there was a total lack of interest in it by the media. Skeptical scholars often date the books in the New Testament as late as possible (usually after 70 AD, and Aslan dates them a decade after that), it is interesting that we never hear any similar conjecture regarding the Koran. There is currently no collaborating historical information about the life of Muhammad in anything close to the time he was suppose to live other than the Koran. So it is interesting that the doubts that Aslan counts on Christianity as to what the historical facts our that the problem is much worse for the historicity of the Koran. I bring this up only to highlight the disparity in coverage.

Yet for some reason I suspect that Reza Aslan will be banned from entering the UK like Robert Spencer was. Spencer for critically looking at the Koran and it’s history is a anti-Mulsim bigot and purveyor of hate-speech while Reza Aslan is a “brilliant scholar” who just happens to discredit Christianity.

While many would discredit Reza Aslan because he is Muslim, this probably is not actually very relevant in this case. Considering the fact that Reza Aslan accepts as true that Jesus was crucified, which the Koran rejects. Probably more of a nominal-Muslim as his family background also suggests. Still he has an employee that seems intent on shutting down any debate regarding Islam. Now that would be an interesting question for an interviewer to ask Aslan what he thinks of his employees actions to shut down debate? Especially since this employee is editor-in-chief of Aslan Media. I won’t hold my breath on that one.

Here is a typical example of the smear job towards Robert Spenser (who is a Catholic Deacon).

Patricia Montemurri for the Detroit Free Press:

The symposium, which will be held in the student union, will feature pro-Muslim speakers, too. But Spencer’s appearance is controversial. The New York Times reported that Spencer’s comments were cited 64 times by the Norwegian white supremacist who killed 76 people in Norway in 2011. Spencer was banned from the United Kingdom in June for what the British government said was his association with hate groups.

As Robert Spencer notes:

In writing this, Montemurri implies that “the Norwegian white supremacist” was inspired to white supremacism and murder by me. In reality, Anders Behring Breivik’s “manifesto” cites not just me, but many, many people, including Barack Obama, John F. Kennedy, and Thomas Jefferson — who are just three of the many who are never blamed for his murders. Montemurri also doesn’t mention, and probably doesn’t know, since the editor-in-chief of Reza Aslan’s Aslan Media didn’t tell her, that Breivik’s manifesto actually reflects an ideology quite different from mine: so far was he from being a doctrinaire counter-jihadist that he wanted to aid Hamas and ally with jihad groups. Nor does she mention (or know, probably) that Breivik criticized me in his insane “manifesto” for not advocating violence. I am no more responsible for Breivik than the Beatles are for Charles Manson.

And as for the British ban, the fact that Montemurri even mentions it shows how these smears retailed by the editor-in-chief of Reza Aslan’s Aslan Media are self-reinforcing. As a result of smears and defamation from Aslan’s counterparts in Britain, my colleague Pamela Geller and I were banned from entering that country. The Home Office’s letter banning me from entering the country said I was being banned for saying that Islam has a doctrine mandating warfare against unbelievers, which it manifestly and demonstrably does indeed have. A preacher of that doctrine, the Saudi Sheikh Mohammed al-Arifi, was recently admitted into the UK. He has said: “Devotion to Jihad for the sake of Allah, and the desire to shed blood, to smash skulls and to sever limbs for the sake of Allah and in defense of His religion, is, undoubtedly, an honor for the believer.” Yet I who advocate no violence or hatred of any kind am not allowed in. This is hardly a blot on my record; it is a blot on Britain’s.

Reference: 14 things you need to know about the new book Zealot


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Jeffrey Miller (789 Posts)

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