We recently remarked, in connection with the New Daily Patriot falsely attributing a quote to Zakir Naik, on how the far right happily post and repost transparently fake Islamophobic propaganda without making the slightest attempt to check its accuracy.
Here is another recent example, from Britain First’s Facebook page. It quotes Marco Polo as stating that “the militant Muslim is the person who beheads the infidel, while the moderate Muslim holds the feet of the victim”. As you can see, it has proved quite popular, having been shared nearly 1,800 times.
The book known as The Travels of Marco Polo dates from around the year 1300. The distinction between “militant Muslims” and “moderate Muslims” is clearly modern day terminology, and the claim that the “moderates” are not essentially different from violent terrorists is a familiar Islamophobic trope. It doesn’t require much intelligence to work out that the quotation couldn’t possibly have come from Marco Polo.
Even a quick google reveals the source of the quote. It can be found in a post entitled “Great Thinkers on Islam” that appeared in 2008 on Islam Watch, an extremist anti-Muslim website that claims to expose “this religion of terror, hatred and mayhem”.
As you can see, the quotation, albeit in a slightly different wording, is attributed to a philosophy professor named Dr M. Sabieski (an individual of such obscurity that, even if he actually existed, he has left no trace on the internet). A quote from The Travels of Marco Polo follows directly after, and reads: “The law which their prophet Mohamed has given to muslims is that any harm done to any one who does not accept their law and any appropriation of his goods, is no sin at all.”
What appears to have happened is that back in the day someone reproduced the quotation from “Sabieski” and misattributed it to Marco Polo. It has been circulating around the internet ever since, uncritically reposted by Islamophobes too stupid and bigoted to realise that Marco Polo never said anything of the sort.