The Southern Poverty Law Center has removed the “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists” from their website after attorneys for Maajid Nawaz, a practicing Muslim and prominent Islamic reformer, threatened legal action over his inclusion on the list.
The report, which had been active on the SPLC’s website since it was published in December 2016, was intended to serve as a resource for journalists to identify promoters of hateful propaganda; but it included a number of liberal reformers such as Nawaz, a former Islamic extremist who has since dedicated his life to combating the hateful ideology.
“A shocking number of these extremists are seen regularly on television news programs and quoted in the pages of our leading newspapers. There, they 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. More often than not, these claims go uncontested,” the report, which still exists in PDF form, reads.
Nawaz, who founded the anti-extremist think tank Quilliam, said during a Wednesday night appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience, a popular podcast hosted by comedian Joe Rogan, that the report was removed from the SPLC website under legal threat sometime in the last two days.
“We have retained Clare Locke, they are writing to the Southern Poverty Law Center as we speak. I think they’ve got wind of it — the Southern Poverty Law Center — and as of yesterday, or the day before, they’ve removed the entire list that’s been up there for two years,” Nawaz said on the podcast.
Nawaz — informed by his experience as a former member of a global terror organization and a political prisoner in Egypt — routinely criticizes the fundamentalist interpretation of Islam that gives rise to terrorism. As a result of that work, the SPLC and a coalition of partner organizations that helped create the list accused him of “savaging Islam.”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born liberal feminist who fled her home country amid civil war and now works at the Hoover Institution, was also branded an “anti-Muslim extremist” by the SPLC.
Like Nawaz, Ali routinely criticizes inhumane practices that are common in majority-Muslim countries, including female genital mutilation, which she herself was subjected to before fleeing Somalia. The report branded her discussion of such topics “toxic.”
The inclusion of Nawaz and Ali on the “anti-Muslim extremist field guide” was the subject of criticism by conservative commentators and prompted a petition on Change.org, which drew thousands of signatures.
The SPLC did not respond to multiple requests for comment.