Maajid Nawaz, a reformed Islamic extremist, is the founder of the Quilliam Foundation
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced Monday that it will pay $3.375 million to settle a lawsuit brought by a British anti-extremism group that was on a list of “anti-Muslim extremists.”
In a statement, the Alabama-based SPLC apologized to the Quilliam Foundation and its founder, Maajid Nawaz.
“Although we have our differences with some of the positions that Mr Nawaz and Quilliam have taken, they are certainly not anti-Muslim extremists,” the statement read in part. “We want to offer our sincere apologies to Mr Nawaz, Quilliam, and our readers for the error, and we wish Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam the best.”
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In 2016, the SPLC included Nawaz and Quilliam in an online publication with the title “A Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.” The list, which included conservative blogger Pamela Geller and human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, drew ire from across the political spectrum.
In October of that left-wing British writer Nick Cohen accused the SPLC of “[doing] the dirty work of the misogynists, the racists, the homophobes, the censorship, and the murderers, it was founded to oppose” in calling Nawaz an extremist. In June 2017, Nawaz told Fox News’ “The Story with Martha MacCallum” that the SPLC was “ideologically driven to silence a voice which introspects from within the Muslim community.”
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The list was removed from the SPLC’s website and replaced with the statement to apologize to Nawaz and Quilliam.
In a statement, Quilliam said it would use the settlement money 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 Radical Left, and let them see that moderate Muslims will not be silenced,” Nawaz said. “We will continue to fight extremists by defying Muslim stereotypes, calling out fundamentalism in our own communities, and speak out against the anti-Muslim hate.”
The settlement was a black eye for the SPLC, which has repeatedly been accused of branding some conservative organizations as “hate groups.” In March, the SPLC was forced to withdraw an article accusing reporters of the enable of white supremacists and anti-Semites.