On Wednesday April 18, Maajid Nawaz, (a former Islamist-turned-Muslim reformer) joined famed atheist writer Sam Harris on Joe Rogan's podcast to announce that Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) had removed its list of "anti-Muslim extremists" from its website.
The SPLC, founded in 1971, made a name for itself as the premier non-profit organization dedicated to tracking and exposing American neo-Nazis and effectively fighting far-right groups like the Ku Klux Klan.
Last October, the SPLC published a list of people who (it said) "routinely espouse a wide range of utter falsehoods, all designed to make Muslims appear as bloodthirsty terrorists or people intent on undermining American constitutional freedoms." The list included Nawaz—founder of the Muslim counter-extremism organization Quilliam Foundation, and astoundingly, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a victim of female genital mutilation in her native Somalia and founder of the anti-FGM AHA Foundation.
As he said in an interview with Bill Maher, Nawaz got tired of the SPLC's slander. He decided to sue, retaining a well-known law firm to help him get the job done. Last week, the firm sent a letter to the SPLC, saying "The Journalist's Manual falsely accused Mr. Nawaz —who is identified as the Quilliam Foundation's founder—of being an "anti-Muslim extremist" who causes "hate-based violence" and "criminal hate violence" against Muslims. These statements are false and defamatory per se, both because they accuse Mr. Nawaz and the Quilliam Foundation of criminal activity and because they impugn them in their profession as activists dedicated to countering extremism and speaking out against hate crimes and the targeting of Muslims."
The letter seems to have done the trick, as the original list has vanished from the SPLC website.
According to Patheos, the SPLC has not responded to requests for comment; nor has it answered MEF's president, Dr. Daniel Pipes' tweet on the matter.
Nawaz's podcast can be viewed here: