An American civil rights organisation has apologised to Maajid Nawaz and paid him and his Quilliam organisation $3.3m after calling him an anti Muslim extremist.
The Southern Poverty Law Center included Nawaz and Quilliam in its publication “A Journalist’s Manual: Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists” in 2016.
The decision to include Nawaz was cheered by many Muslims in the UK who felt targeted by Nawaz and Quilliam. Over the past decade Nawaz has loudly championed the government’s Prevent counter terrorism strategy which many Muslims consider to be discriminatory against the community. He has also targeted many mainstream Muslim organisatiuons and activists, accusing them of extremism.
But the SPLC today announced a settlement after Nawaz launched a law suit against them.
In a statement Richard Cohen of the SPLC said: “Given our understanding of the views of Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam, it was our opinion at the time that the Field Guide was published that their inclusion was warranted. But after getting a deeper understanding of their views and after hearing from others for whom we have great respect, we realize that we were simply wrong to have included Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam in the Field Guide in the first place.
“Among those who contacted us were human rights advocates affiliated with the United Nations who emphasized that Mr. Nawaz’s work combatting extremism is actually analogous to that of the SPLC over the years in the South…
“Although we may have our differences with some of the positions that Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have taken, we recognize that they have made important contributions to efforts to promote pluralism and that they are most certainly not anti-Muslim extremists.
“As part of our settlement, we have paid $3.375 million to Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam to fund their work to fight anti-Muslim bigotry and extremism. It was the right thing to do in light of our mistake and the right thing to do in light of the growing prejudice against the Muslim community on both sides of the Atlantic. We will look to our insurance carrier to cover the cost of the settlement.”
Reacting to the decision, Maajid Nawaz said he would use the money to combat extremists.
“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,” said Nawaz.
“We will continue to combat extremists by defying Muslim stereotypes, calling out fundamentalism in our own communities, and speaking out against anti-Muslim hate.”