In ironic twist, a Muslim sues the Southern Poverty Law Center

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is known for their list of “hate groups” — and the relatively thin criteria needed to be included on it.

Take a socially conservative stance like opposing same-sex marriage on religious grounds and — BAM — you’ll find your organization listed alongside legitimate hate groups like the KKK and Aryan Brotherhood on the SPLC’s website. They’re already being sued by an evangelical Christian ministry for doing as much.

Given their lax criteria for branding one a bigot, when the SPLC famously put together a Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists, they apparently didn’t realize that among the individuals listed were practicing Muslims calling for reform within their own religion. Among the names on the list you may recognize — including Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Frank Gaffney, Brigitte Gabriel, Pamela Geller, and David Horowitz — you will find Maajid Nawaz (a practicing liberal Muslim).

Nawaz in particular is worth highlighting because he’s a former member of the Islamic extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, which calls for the implementation of a Caliphate. It’s that membership that landed Nawaz in an Egyptian prison for half a decade (2001-2006) before he later renounced those beliefs, and founded the anti-radicalization think tank “Quilliam.”

Isn’t it ironic to realize that Nawaz wouldn’t have ended up on the SPLC’s list of extremists had be actually still been an Islamic extremist?

Few have done so before, but Nawaz is fighting back.

According to PJ Media:

“The SPLC, who made their money suing the KKK, were [sic] set up to defend people like me, but now they’ve become the monster that they claimed they wanted to defeat,” Maajid Nawaz, a British politician and founder of the anti-Islamist organization the Quilliam foundation, declared in a video announcing his lawsuit against the SPLC for defamation.

“They have named me, alongside Ayaan Hirsi Ali, on a list of ‘Anti-Muslim Extremists,'” Nawaz said. “I am suing the SPLC for defamation and I need your help to win.”

The Quilliam founder announced his lawsuit in late July. He admitted that “suing the SPLC will be very expensive,” adding, “I can’t fund it on my own.” Therefore, he launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise enough money to carry out the lawsuit.

The “hate” list features Christian organizations like the Family Research Council (FRC), Liberty Counsel, the American Family Association (AFA), and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), along with other groups like the American College of Pediatricians and the Center for Immigration Studies.

The group also attacked Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a woman’s rights activist who has focused on the treatment of women in the Islamic world. Ali has received many death threats, one of which came after the murder of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker she worked with.

Rod Dremer, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., called Ali “one of the world’s greatest champions of freedom, pluralism, and tolerance.” Chillingly, he added, “Yet in an Orwellian version of reality, a woman whose life is threatened every day by extremist Muslims is labeled by the SPLC an anti-Muslim extremist.”

In the video announcing his lawsuit, Nawaz declared that “placing my name on a list like this not only smears my name, but also puts me in physical danger.” He noted that “the Left has descended into violence, whether that’s punching people on the street, throwing explosives and attacking people in protests and riots or assassination attempts on Right-wing politicians by leftist fans of the SPLC.”

The irony is lost on the SPLC that in fighting back against Nawaz, they’re just a bunch of anti-Muslim bigots (that’s how this works, isn’t it?).

[Note: This post was written by Matt Palumbo. He is a co-author of the new book A Paradoxical Alliance: Islam and the Left, and can be found on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]

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