Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Mini Jihad Watch with Robert Spencer Today at Heritage Foundation

Today at Heritage, Robert Spencer gave a wonderful talk which I attended on Islam and his new book "The Truth About Muhammad," to a full auditorium.

All went well until the question and answer session afterwards, when it became apparent that some members of the audience were Islamic sympatheizers, there to cause trouble. And they had carefully choreographed their disruption.

Since another commenter has already described the event in detail over at Spencer's webpage Jihad Watch, I will reprint it here with only one addition to make: Increasingly at events like this, there needs to be better security. One day, some protester could walk into the building with no security checkpoint, and into the audience with a bomb straped on his belt and let it rip during such a Q&A as we had today.

I, for one, was a bit nervous when these people starting taking over the program at the end. And while security and the police were eventually called, it could have been worse. A lot worse.

Here follows details of what happened today at Heritage which gave all of us who attended pause:

"I attended the Spencer lecture, and I posted my account of what went down on another forum. Here it is again:
Today, I attended a lecture at the headquarters of the Heritage Foundation by Robert Spencer, author of various books on the threat of radical Islam. His lecture lasted for about 40 minutes. As I've noticed on his website, Jihad Watch, in his columns, and in a recent interview with Brian Lamb on CSPAN, Mr. Spencer is very knowledgeable on Islamic theology, history, and radical groups. I truly enjoyed his discussion. (If you want to watch it, go to The Truth About Muhammad. It is available in streaming video, streaming mp3, and downloadable mp3.)

The lecture itself went on without incident. It was during the Q&A period that things started to unravel. The first few questions were on various topics, and Spencer gave insightful answers and commentary.

It was one of the last questions that exposed the "infiltrators" amongst the audience.

A young woman wearing a hat, named Megan ("from Boston"), brought up the subject of child marriage, which Spencer had mentioned when talking about the bad example Muhammad has given to his followers to this day. She asked him if "Republican Congressman Mark Foley was perhaps under the influence of the evil teachings of Muhammad." Spencer laughed at the question, and bluntly said "No."

Members of the audience also laughed at her question, most likely because of its sheer absurdity. Spencer expanded on his answer, and said, "I never said that child molestation or pedophilia or anything of the kind was exclusively the province of Muslims.... I disapprove of it [this kind of conduct] from Mark Foley or anyone else" (If you want to hear this complete exhange, watch the streaming video on the link above, and using the scroll at the bottom of Windows Media Player, forward the time index to 58:01, and it follows from about 58:10 on.)

Spencer answered one more question about whether Islam could under go a reform movement like the Protestant Reformation (and made a slightly-veiled jab at Unitarian and Episcopalian "Christianity" and in the process - Spencer himself is a Catholic of the Melkite rite).

After he finished his answer, the moderator for the lecture, the director of lectures and seminars for the Heritage Foundation, announced that the time for Q&A was up. As he was closing out the lecture, a young man who had has hand up for the entire latter half of the Q&A period stood up and whined loudly about how he hadn't been called on. The lecture director, in response, stated that he was welcome to talk to Spencer afterwards, and then thanked Mr. Spencer for his presentation, which started a round of applause.

Following the applause, people started to file out of the large auditorium at the Heritage Foundation. The man who had been complaining continued to shout, and as I made my way out to the lobby outside the auditorium to get my copies of Spencer's books signed, I started to hear singing. It sounded like some kind of protest song/jingle. I didn't really know what they were singing about at the time, but upon the reviewing the streaming video at the link above (starting at the 1:02:00 mark), the words were something like "Mr. Cheney, something something World War Three, one hundred thousand something die, that's like Nazi genocide." The song, of course, continued.) Between the Foley question and the jingle singers, it became pretty obvious that there were a handful of leftists that were bent on causing some kind of disruption at the lecture.

The disruption continued out in the lobby. A line formed in front of a table so Mr. Spencer could sign books. The man who hadn't been called on (and I have a feeling that lecture organizers had been warned in advance about this guy) came up to the side of the table, and started to rant about how Spencer supposedly supported the mass killing of Muslims, and how he couldn't see why so many people came out to hear him speak.......

As I left the book signing line, I noticed that the lecture director was escorting "Megan from Boston" from out of the auditorium. She left without incident. However, the young whiner continued his rant, and finally, he too was asked to leave.

Some of the Heritage staff and the people who attended the event tried to get him to leave, and with some difficulty, he moved towards the hallway where the elevators were.

I wasn't paying complete attention to the whiner and his "escorts" as they moved towards the elevators, since I wanted to get some of the food and drinks that Heritage had on hand. Suddenly, I heard shouting from the hallway. I went over to see what was going on. I saw the whiner from before trying to hang on to a corner in the hallway as a Heritage staffer escorted him out. He kept on shouting that he was being hurt.

A few minutes later, the U.S. Capitol Police showed up (the Heritage Foundation is only a block and a half away from one of the Senate office buildings). They interviewed the whiner, the staffers involved, and probably some of the witnesses who saw the whole thing go down. After some time, he was finally escorted out of the building by the police.
Posted by: M. Joseph at November 14, 2006 06:30 PM

Again, I reiterate, there needs to be better security at events like this at Heritage and elsewhere. Both the times and the subject matter beg for it.

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