IN: SELF-PROCLAIMED EXPERTS EXPLOIT IGNORANCE OF ISLAM
The local Muslim community is very concerned about Robert Spencer’s invitation from the local FBI office to talk about Islam and terrorism. Spencer, a self-proclaimed expert on Islam and jihad, has published at least one book and numerous articles about what he refers to as “radical” Islam. He also has a Web site, Jihad Watch, where he chronicles embarrassing events involving Muslims.
The problem is that Spencer is no expert, but an ideologue who exploits the average American’s ignorance of Islam by rendering a Christian fundamentalist reading of translated Islamic texts.
Since the despicable terrorist act on 9/11, a new industry has emerged in which anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of Islam can proclaim himself an expert, proclaim Muslims as the new world threat, and receive widespread attention to propagate the misinformation.
An example of this scenario is promotion of the Somali-born author of “Infidel” (Ayaan Hirsi Ali), who recently moved to the United States after it was learned that she had illegally entered the Netherlands. Though she has appeared on many TV and radio programs promoting her book, her appearance on “The Tavis Smiley Show” was particularly troublesome. Smiley, who has never had a black American Muslim on his program despite the fact that this is one of the largest ethnic groups of Muslims in the country, brings a self-styled expert on his program to bash Islam.
Logic dictates that if a person would like to facilitate understanding about a topic, he would seek an acknowledged expert to perform the task. We are only as effective as the advisers we retain, and if we are seeking only advisers to confirm our bigotry, then God help us all.
Ismail Abdul Aleem
Member, Indiana Association of Muslim Imams and Chaplains