Southern Poverty pays $3.3M to Quilliam, Nawaz for labeling them ‘anti-Muslim extremists’
The Southern Poverty Law Center has apologized and agreed to pay $3.375 million to a group fighting Islamic extremism after including it on its since-deleted list of “anti-Muslim extremists.”
The SPLC announced the settlement Monday along with a written and video apology to the Quilliam Foundation and its founder, Maajid Nawaz, for listing them in its 2016 publication A Journalist’s Manual: Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.
SPLC President Richard Cohen, who appeared in the video, said his group was “wrong” and offered “our sincerest apology” for including Quilliam in the “field guide.”
“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,” said Mr. Cohen in the video.
Mr. Nawaz, a former Islamic extremist turned liberal reformer, threatened in April to sue the SPLC after finding himself and his group on the list, which also included Hoover Institution fellow Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somalia-born critic of radical Islam and genital-mutilation victim.
The Alabama-based group known for its liberal advocacy has been criticized for years for lumping mainstream conservative groups like the Family Research Council alongside racist groups like the KKK on its “hate map.”
In addition to the payment, the settlement requires the SPLC to remove the field guide from its website and social media, and keep the video and written apologies online for at least two years.
Mr. Nawaz said the London-based group, which bills itself as the “world’s first counter-extremism organization,” would use the settlement “to fund work fighting 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,” Mr. Nawaz said. “We will continue to combat extremists by defying Muslim stereotypes, calling out fundamentalism in our own communities, and speaking out against anti-Muslim hate.”
BREAKING: @splcenter Admits It Was Wrong, Apologizes to @QuilliamOrg @MaajidNawaz for its Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists, and Agrees to Pay $3.375 Million Settlementhttps://t.co/SGVR33GQMoJoin our civil society movement against extremismhttps://t.co/qSnaEsRJzN pic.twitter.com/h1XtVF8fUs Maajid - (Mājid) [maːʤɪd] ماجد (@MaajidNawaz) June 18, 2018
The SPLC has recently partnered with Facebook, Amazon and Google-owned Twitter, raising alarm about whether conservatives will lose their social-media platforms in the name of combating “hate.”
“It’s a shame that it took impending litigation for the Southern Poverty Law Center to finally set the record straight and admit it was wrong all along,” Megan Meier, a partner at Clare Locke, the law firm that represented Nawaz, told National Review. “Quilliam and Mr. Nawaz do admirable work, and we are honored to have restored their reputations and achieved this victory on their behalf.”
The apology reads as follows:
“The Southern Poverty Law Center was wrong to include Maajid Nawaz and the Quilliam Foundation in our Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists,” said the apology. “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.
“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.”