The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) lists Maajid Nawaz as an anti-Muslim extremist. Though if you read the extreme right they accuse Maajid Nawaz of being a jihadist, such as:
Despite his outward facade of secularism and liberalism, Nawaz is in fact a deeply devout Sunni Muslim supremacist, operating far behind enemy lines in the Dar al-Harb, the House of War
We expect that sort of nonsense from The Gates of Vienna Blog, as quoted above. What though of the Southern Poverty Law Center? Perhaps we should look at just a few of the points in what they say about Maajid Nawaz.
Secret list given to government accusing people and groups of sharing an ideology with terrorists
As The Quilliam Foundation responded to the accusation in The Guardian:
This accusation repeated here by the Guardian is simply false. There was no ‘Terror List’. We produced a briefing document entitled ‘Preventing Terrorism: where next for Britain?’, that we sent to all government departments and not just the OSCT. This document set out reforms we felt were necessary to the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy. The Government’s strategy was eventually reformed almost exactly as we had advised. The document was sent in private so as to not play out the debate about reforming the Government’s counter-extremism strategy in the press. However, the copy we sent to the OSCT was eventually leaked by a civil servant.
Maajid Nawaz wants to criminalise the veil/niqab in many public spaces
In a great piece of quote mining, they neglect to mention that Maajid Nawaz does not call for criminalising as they claim. In the Daily Mail article they quote from, Nawaz mentions:
Here’s my test: where a balaclava, motorcycle helmet or face mask would be deemed inappropriate, so should a niqab. It’s simple really.
It is simple, unless you want to make someone out to be an extremist against Muslims.
Long term readers of this blog may recall Mohammed Shafiq tried to accuse Maajid Nawaz of criminalising the veil. At the time I called this a dangerous game of accusing people, that may be more liberal than yourself, of things which fundamentalists are prepared to kill you for.
“Nawaz tweeted out a cartoon of Jesus and Muhammad — despite the fact that many Muslims see it as blasphemous to draw Muhammad.”
Being “blasphemous” makes you an extremist it seems. The Southern Poverty Law Centre is devoid of context that Maajid Nawaz said he did not find a cartoon picture of Mohammed and Jesus saying hello together to be blasphemous or a challenge to his faith. Two students at a London School of Economics student freshers fayre were ejected for wearing them to advertise their Atheist Humanist Secular society, and this was discussed on a BBC show. Hence [the] Maajid Nawaz tweet.
A reminder that this led to death threats for Maajid Nawaz. No mention of that by the SPLC.
More on this can be read in my Huff Post article.
Nawaz went to a strip club for his stag do
Let us recap. You are an extremist if you give evidence to government departments, if you share a cartoon of a prophet saying “How Ya doin'” and if you go to a strip club on your stag do, according to the Southern Poverty Law Centre.
Is this meant to be a joke? Problem is this is no laughing matter – where muslim activists challenge fundamentalism and extremism that tries to impose a religious Islamic orthodoxy, this is not just dangerous. It is reprehensible.
There is no fact checking, or counter view. This is a hatchet job. The sort to defame and have circulated by people who cannot be bothered to check the context for themselves.
Regarding the intro to Maajid Nawaz, yes the government gave seeding money to help the Quilliam Foundation get set up – an issue was how quickly that should end. Not everyone has $300 million in funds to keep their civic action going in the future as the SPLC has. It should also be noted Quilliam has not received ongoing taxpayer money for a number of years.
Maajid Nawaz began leaving Islamism during his incarceration in Egypt. He was not the finished liberal secular product when he came back to the UK. He has mentioned that, and how in a short time after being released he realised he had to make a clean break from his former politics and religious affiliations, in his book Radical.
There had been hopes Tommy Robinson might go on a similar journey when he left the English Defence League. That has not happened, but that is for Tommy Robinson to answer. He had the opportunity, he did not take it.
None of what the Southern Poverty Law Centre has said points to Maajid Nawaz being an extremist. Let alone anti-Muslim. The bar set by this report will make any liberal activism by Muslims as being against all Muslims.
If you are the “wrong” sort of muslim you are to be branded an extremist. You will be declared a blasphemer. This is irresponsible, and dangerous. It also shows why The Quilliam Foundation and the work Maajid Nawaz does is necessary.
We expect the fundamentalists and extremists to declare people blasphemous or to be traitors of the faith. For others to act as their willing mouthpiece brings shame to the Southern Poverty Law Centre.