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University of California Berkeley School of Law




September 11 marked the beginning of a significant erosion of civil liberties in the United States. Actions taken by the government, including the special registration of men from Muslim countries resulting in the detainment of hundreds, exemplify this deterioration of civil rights.' Coupled with the formal decay of rights has been an increase in discrimination, violence, and hate crimes against Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim. In August 2006, the Gallup Poll News Service wrote that "Anti-Muslim sentiments [are] fairly commonplace" noting that four in ten Americans admit feeling prejudice against Muslims. 2 The Sikh Coalition3 and Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund 4 have documented the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans post-9/11. Negative attitudes that Americans harbor towards Muslims make formal discrimination permissible. Gallup data suggests that 39% of Americans want Muslims to carry a special identification card and 41% of Americans want Muslims to undergo special checks at the airport.

Amongst the American voices inspiring religious and ethnic discrimination today is New York Times bestselling author Robert Spencer in his recent book, The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion. According to Muslims, the Prophet Muhammad 6 is the last Prophet and the founder of Islam. In The Truth About Muhammad, Spencer asserts that "bloodthirsty jihadists"7 invoke the image of the Prophet Muhammad and that it is therefore necessary to understand who the Prophet Muhammad is in order to understand the "jihad violence."

ence."8 This review critiques The Truth About Muhammad and highlights both structural and substantive flaws contained within. Part II will discuss the background and publishing of the book and how its development evinces its biases. Part III will offer substantive critiques of Spencer's unfounded assertions about Islam, his interpretation of Islam's treatment of women, and of his view of all Muslims as violent. Ultimately, Robert Spencer's book does little more than contribute to an already abundant discourse of hate speech against Muslim Americans.

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