SPLC admits it was wrong to call Maajid Nawaz an extremist

SPLC admits it was wrong to call Maajid Nawaz an extremist June 19, 2018

The Southern Poverty Law Center yesterday apologised for wrongly naming the Quilliam Foundation and its UK founder, Maajid Nawaz, above, as anti-Muslim extremists and has paid them a $3.375 million settlement.
According to this report, the SPLC said in a statement:

Today, we entered into a settlement with and offered our sincerest apology to Mr. Maajid Nawaz and his organization, the Quilliam Foundation, for including them in our publication A Journalist’s Manual: Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.

SPLC President Richard Cohen, above, issued a video apology and said Nawaz and the Quilliam Foundation, a think tank and self-described “counter-extremism organisation”, have done important work to fight against radicalisation and Islamophobia, and that it  had been “wrong”.
SPLC’s field guild had profiled Nawaz as an anti-Muslim extremist and questioned whether aspects of his biography are true.
In April this year Freethinker columnist Ophelia Benson wrote an op-ed lambasting the SPLC’s decision to include Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali in the guide, saying:

Nawaz and Hirsi Ali are not extremists, they are opposed to extremists, so opposed that the opposition is their life’s work. Both were Islamist extremists for a time in early adulthood and both turned sharply away in revulsion. Both campaign against fanatical religious thought, laws, and violence.

Cohen said:

Since we published the field guide, we have taken the time to do more research and have consulted with human rights advocates we respect. We’ve found that Mr. Nawaz  and Quilliam have made valuable and important contributions to public discourse, including by promoting pluralism and condemning both anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamist extremism.

The Quilliam Foundation released its own statement in which the organisation said it would use the settlement funds to fight anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamist extremism.
Nawaz said:

With the help of everyone who contributed to our litigation fund, we were able to fight back against the Regressive Left and show them that moderate Muslims will not be silenced. We will continue to combat extremists by defying Muslim stereotypes, calling out fundamentalism in our own communities, and speaking out against anti-Muslim hate.

Nawaz was himself a member of a global Islamist group when he was younger, but while in Egypt, he turned away from the group. He founded the Quilliam Foundation to prevent other Muslims from being radicalised and to fight Islamophobia.
The foundations says on its website:

Quilliam is the world’s first counter-extremism organisation. We have a full spectrum approach to promote pluralism and inspire change.

Hat tip: Andrew Milne & BarrieJohn

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  • andym

    It didn’t take a legal genius to work out this wouldn’t go all the way to court,but the apology sounds genuine rather then the through-gritted-teeth, lawyer-agreed ones you usually get in these circumstances.
    Interesting phrase,”regressive left.” I’m not sure if it’s referring to the SPLC ,or that is implying that they themselves were misled by the regressives.

  • CoastalMaineBird

    Since we published the field guide, we have taken the time to do more research
    That’s not how this works.
    That’s not how any of this works.
    1… Research
    2… Publish
    Not that hard.

  • RussellW

    I was going to make a similar comment about the “regressive left” The progressive left seems to have disappeared.

  • 1859

    An organisation that fights against anti-Muslim sentiment and against Muslim extremism……they must be very, very busy.

  • L.Long

    Does he follow and honor the kakaran?? Yes then he himself may not be an extremist (what ever that means) but he still follows his book o’BS of hate -bigotry -intolerance! So would not trust him all that far! When he burns the book of hate, and becomes a humanist, then I will think better of him.

  • What CoastalMaineBird said – right??? I thought that when I watched the video yesterday – you did more research but why didn’t you do it back then? Before going public with the list, and then when many many people wrote to you to say how wrong you were?
    I wrote them a careful letter being specific about what they got wrong, and got back a worthless form letter simply repeating what they’d already said. Maddening.

  • andym

    @ Ophelia. CMB. Doesn’t make sense , does it? Any “new” data would have been already available when they drew up the list. This is why I think who specifically is meant by the term “progressive left” is important. Were SPLC being played by some British Trotskyites, I wonder.

  • John the Drunkard

    Quis ludet ipsos Trotskyites?
    (with apologies to anyone who got a real education)

  • Well it’s not news that the left is deeply confused about Islam and Islamism and irrational often-racist hatred of Muslims aka “Islamophobia.” It’s complicated. I have to say if I were having tea with Donald Trump I wouldn’t regale him with my view on why no woman should wear hijab of any kind, because he wouldn’t hear it the way I meant it. I think that complication is the root of the SPLC’s massive mistakes on this…just as it was behind the massive mistakes so many not-otherwise-shitty people made about Charlie Hebdo.

  • andym

    But the term”regressive left” implies more at work to me than just confusion. To me, it suggests a deliberate attempt to utilise that confusion to smear critics of Islam/ism.

  • barriejohn

    The “left” have form where Maajid Nawaz is concerned:

  • Yes…the fact that Maajid had the temerity to tweet a link to a Jesus and Mo was one of the items in the SPLC’s Little List, which was INFURIATING. His point in tweeting it was to say hey not all Muslims do freak out about cartoons, and the SPLC treated that as “Islamophobic.” It makes me crazy when otherwise liberal and secular institutions like the BBC and the SPLC think they get to enforce Islamic blasphemy rules, and think they’re being enlightened by doing so. I guess that’s a classic example of what’s meant by “regressive left.” Mostly I think the term gets thrown around too sloppily.