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.
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.
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