Islamic slavery defender is still at it — and he’s got allies

Jonathan A. C. Brown

He’s at it again. In March, we met Jonathan A. C. Brown, a Muslim convert and current head of Georgetown University’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding – which is, in effect, a fully paid-for propaganda arm of the Saudi royal family. Our story focused on a February 7 lecture by Brown entitled “Islam and the Problem of Slavery.” It was a masterpiece of evasion, euphemism, exculpation, and prevarication. Brown pulled out all the stops in his effort to defend and normalize slavery under Islam.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal

For example, Muslim masters treat their slaves well – often better than their own sons! A slave in a rich Arab household is better off than a member of an Arizona chain gang! Some slaves in the Ottoman Empire actually lived well, wielded power, and enjoyed respect! He claimed (providing no evidence) that Muslim slavery has never been “racialized” and that it’s “kinder and gentler” than antebellum slavery in the U.S. South. Besides, calling a slave a slave is really incorrect, because slaves do get paid in the form of food, clothing, and shelter! Anyway, what does “slave” really mean? What do we mean when we speak of one person “owning” another? Isn’t it all relative? Aren’t we all part of a complex network in which each of us has power over others and others have power over us?

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian

It was a breathtaking display, a stunning defense of the indefensible. And it stunned some members of his audience. During the Q & A, Brown out did himself, stating explicitly: “It’s not immoral for one human to own another human.” He compared slavery to regular employment and to marriage. (He had a point: under Islam, marriage is ownership.) Brown even said it was O.K. for slave owners to rape their slaves. “Consent isn’t necessary for lawful sex,” he maintained, explaining that “consent is a modern Western concept.”

Looking into Brown’s background, we uncovered other, equally interesting statements by him. In one lecture, for example, he defended Muhammed’s marriage to a six-year-old girl, dismissing concerns about it as ridiculous – back in those days, he insisted, “everyone” married children. Asked in 2015 by Variety, the showbiz publication, to provide an Islamic perspective on same-sex marriage, Brown served up a masterwork of doubletalk, doing his best to avoid stating the plain and simple fact that his religion isn’t just opposed to same-sex marriage – it calls for the coldblooded murder of gay people.

Andrew Harrod

When challenged by critics, Brown lashed out, accusing them of Islamophobia. Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian of Foreign Policy magazine even rushed to his defense.

Now he’s in the headlines again. On April 14, journalist Andrew Harrod, who had already been expelled (on Brown’s orders) from Brown’s February 7 defense of Islamic slavery, reported that on March 16 he had been thrown out of another Georgetown event, the so-called Peace Requires Encounter Summit. Harrod explained the premise of the event: it “ostensibly sought to ‘build relationships’ – apparently only with those approved by Islamic supremacists” The co-sponsors of the summit “included the Muslim Brotherhood-derived Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Franciscan Action Network (FAN), and Unity Productions Foundation (UPF), a producer of pro-Islam films.” Harrod had been legitimately invited to the summit by a UPF representative, Daniel Tutt of Marymount University, but when Brown glimpsed him at the event, he “demanded that I leave.” Brown them summoned Tutt, who “obsequiously acknowledged his mistake in having invited a ‘noted Islamophobe’ who had ‘slandered’ Brown.”

The net widens. We know who Jonathan Brown is. But who is Daniel Tutt? Answers tomorrow.

Smearing critics: Jonathan Brown

He occupies an influential position at Georgetown University, from which – as we’ve seen this week – he defends Muslims who own slaves, champions old Muslim men who marry little girls, and spews double-talk in an effort to cover up Islam’s unequivocal view of homosexuality as a capital crime. For years he’s routinely expressed opinions that would have gotten a non-Muslim fired from almost any major university in the United States. And nobody has stood up to him.

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Robert Spencer

Well, almost nobody. In fact, Robert Spencer, the author of several books about Islam, has repeatedly challenged Jonathan A.C. Brown‘s systematic lies. On January 30, Brown responded to Spencer’s critiques in a lecture at Gonzaga University, offering to debate Spencer anytime and claiming that he would “mop the floor with” Spencer. Spencer promptly accepted the offer via Twitter. Instead of trying to arrange a time and place, Brown replied with a personal insult: “my God you’re ugly.” At this writing, Brown has yet to issue a serious response to Spencer.

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Laila Al-Arian

Andrew Harrod, a writer for the Campus Watch website, attended the lecture with which we began this week – the one in which Brown whitewashed Islamic slavery. Or, in fact, he had tried to attend the lecture. In the article he wrote afterwards, Harrod reported that Brown had first observed him, Harrod, in the audience while preparing for the lecture with a fellow professor and “two veiled…assistants.” “Brown,” wrote Harrod, “became visibly irritated” on seeing him. Harrod had covered previous talks by Brown, and Brown has responded to Harrod’s criticism by calling his articles “stupid.” Brown slammed Harrod’s pieces and asked him if he intended to avail himself of the refreshments offered at the event. Brown’s colleague then asked Harrod to leave – a perfect illustration, argued Harrod, “of how he and his fellow Islamism apologists handle opposing views.”

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Sami Al-Arian

One last thing about Brown. He’s married to Laila Al-Arian, a producer for Al Jazeera television and the daughter of Sami Al-Arian, a former professor at the University of South Florida who was held in house arrest and then deported to Turkey in 2015 for aiding members of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Al-Arian is definitely a figure worthy of attention by this website; but we’ll have to get around to him on another day.