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Southern Poverty Law Center Must Pay $3.3 Million After Falsely Naming Anti-Muslim Extremists

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has been hit with a big payout after losing in a defamation lawsuit to Quilliam International and Maajid Nawaz, the founder of the organization. Nawaz objected to being mentioned in SPLC’s “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists” and sued for defamation. SPLC has now agreed to pay out a $3.375 million settlement and admitted it was wrong to add Nawaz and his organization to the since-removed list.

“The Southern Poverty Law Center was wrong to include Maajid Nawaz and the Quilliam Foundation in our Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists. Since we published the Field Guide, we have taken the time to do more research and have consulted with human rights advocates we respect,” the page where the “Field Guide” seemingly used to be reads. “We’ve found that Mr. Nawaz  and Quilliam have made valuable and important contributions to public discourse, including by promoting pluralism and condemning both anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamist extremism. Although we may have our differences with some of the positions that Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have taken, they are most certainly not anti-Muslim extremists. We would like to extend our sincerest apologies to Mr. Nawaz, Quilliam, and our readers for the error, and we wish Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam all the best.”

As the agreement shows, this apology was part of the deal.

So was the on-camera apology made by SPLC’s president, Richard Cohen, which can be seen above.

“Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have made valuable and important contributions to public discourse, including by promoting pluralism and condemning both anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamist extremism,” he said.

Nawaz had a pretty noticeable reaction to his court win on Twitter:

“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,” he said in a statement. “We will continue to combat extremists by defying Muslim stereotypes, calling out fundamentalism in our own communities, and speaking out against anti-Muslim hate.”

Nawaz previously appeared in a sympathetic environment on Real Time with Bill Maher to explain why he was suing. In addition, more than 14,000 people signed a petition on his behalf.

The SPLC describes itself on its website as “dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.”

Quilliam bills itself as the “world’s first counter-extremism organisation” with “a full spectrum and values-based approach to counter-extremism which means promoting pluralism and inspiring change.”

[Image via YouTube screengrab]

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