In a legal smackdown that has been a long time coming, the Southern Poverty Law Center has settled with Maajid Nawaz, a Muslim reformer that the organization had labeled an “anti-Muslim extremist” on its misbegotten website. The SPLC was forced to offer a full apology and retraction to Nawaz and pay him $3.3 million for defaming him and his organization, the Quilliam Foundation.
“The Southern Poverty Law Center was wrong to include Maajid Nawaz and the Quilliam Foundation in our Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists,” the SPLC said in a statement. “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,” they continued. “Although we may have our differences with some of the positions that Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have taken, they are most certainly not anti-Muslim extremists. We would like to extend our sincerest apologies to Mr. Nawaz, Quilliam, and our readers for the error, and we wish Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam all the best.”
We would have liked to have seen the SPLC go even further with that apology, but we suppose that’s about the best we can expect from an organization that thinks – much like many other liberals – that ANY criticism of Islam is a form of racism. That’s about as twisted and backwards an ideology as you can espouse (outside of, say, Islamic fundamentalism), and it does immeasurable harm to the efforts of people like Nawaz, who are actually trying to drag Islam into the 21st century. Whether that is possible or not remains to be seen, but we’re on the side of anyone trying to marginalize the radical voices inside the religion.
“This should be an instructive moment for all of us,” Nawaz said of the settlement. “Too much and for too long, the left, and many on the left, have been trying to shut down any debate of critique or criticism around Islam, especially by Muslims within Muslim communities.”
If the SPLC is still in an apologetic mood, they would do their reputation a great service by extending one to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Muslim reformer who has spoken out against barbaric practices like female circumcision…and has been repeatedly branded a hateful bigot by the SPLC and others like them.
But when it comes to this organization demonstrating any integrity or morality, well, we’re not holding our breath.