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Maajid Nawaz Tells Bill Maher He’s Suing Southern Poverty Law Center for Defamation

Maajid Nawaz told Bill Maher tonight that he plans to sue the Southern Poverty Law Center for defamation for listing him as an “anti-Muslim extremist.”

Nawaz, who wrote a book called Radical: My Journey Out of Islamist Extremism, is featured on the SPLC’s page “A Journalist’s Manual: Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists” and in addition to saying “the evidence suggests that Nawaz is far more interested in self-promotion and money than in any particular ideological dispute,” they feature a list of actions he’s taken that they say backs up this characterization.

Nawaz’s placement on the SPLC list (along with Ayaan Hirsi Ali) was actually the source of some controversy last fall, and he responded at the time in a piece for The Daily Beast:

In a naively dangerous form of neo-Orientalism, the SPLC just arrogated to itself the decision over which debates we Muslims may have about reforming our own religion, and which are to be deemed beyond the pale.

Let us call it “Islamsplaining.”

In a monumental failure of comprehension, the SPLC have conflated my challenge to Islamist theocracy among my fellow Muslims with somehow being “anti-Muslim.” The regressive left is now in the business of issuing fatwas against Muslim reformers.

Nawaz told Maher tonight that he’s getting “sick to death” of “well-meaning white men sitting in sweet Alabama” just declaring him to be an anti-Muslim extremist:

“I’m sick and tired of a lot of the well-meaning… liberal and left-wing usually white men who decide that I am saying what they don’t agree with, don’t allow for me to say about my own community, my own religious heritage… So I’m gonna take them to court for defamation.”

And Nawaz has already set up a site to help crowdfund his legal action:

He writes online, “Legal action will, ideally, create a precedent, and prove a warning to those who think they can throw around damning labels like ‘Islamophobe’ ‘racist’ and ‘Nazi’ without any evidence and simply get away with it.”

Watch the segment above, via HBO.

[image via screengrab]

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Follow Josh Feldman on Twitter: @feldmaniac

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