The Southern Poverty Law Center has removed an online list of “anti-Muslim extremists” after British Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz threatened to sue the SPLC over his inclusion on the list.
The list is the fourth article in two months the SPLC has deleted over accuracy concerns.
The left-wing nonprofit first published the list in November 2016, offering it as a “field guide” to journalists.
In addition to Nawaz, the list included Somali-born activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who advocates against female genital mutilation, among other issues. Ali blasted the SPLC’s “deeply offensive smears” in an August 2017 op-ed for The New York Times.
The inclusion of Nawaz and Ali on the list sparked a backlash, including from establishment publications like The Atlantic, but the SPLC didn’t remove the page until Awaz took legal action. The SPLC did not return The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment by press time.
Awaz recently finished crowdfunding the initial legal fees for his lawsuit against the SPLC, which he first announced in June 2017. Nawaz retained the same law firm, Clare Locke LLP, that led the successful defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone over the infamous UVA rape hoax.
The alleged extremists on its list — the organization described as a “field guide” for journalists — were responsible for inciting anti-Muslim hate crimes, the SPLC claimed.
“This misinformation and hateful rhetoric have consequences. When huge numbers of Americans believe that a majority of Muslims are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers, it can hardly be a surprise that some percentage of them engage in hate crime attacks,” the guide said. “After all, they learned of the threat they believe Muslims pose from sources who were presented by the media as authoritative experts.”
The list appears to have been removed within the last week. Internet archives show the page was still live as of April 13 but had been removed by April 18.
Nawaz first revealed the list’s removal Wednesday while on comedian Joe Rogan’s podcast.
“We have retained Clare Locke, they are writing to the Southern Poverty Law Center as we speak. I think they 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.
The SPLC pulled three articles in March that drew conspiratorial connections between American political figures and Russian influence operations within the United States.
Then, too, it took legal action for the SPLC to correct its inflammatory accusations. Max Blumenthal, son of Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal, threatened legal action over a March 9 article tying left-wingers like young Blumenthal to white nationalists and Russian propaganda efforts.
The SPLC apologized to Blumenthal and several other individuals named in the article and removed two other Russia-related articles by the same author.
They consistently labeled pedestrian conservative organizations as “hate groups” and have been directly tied to violence against conservatives in the past.
Floyd Lee Corkins, who opened fire at the Family Research Center (FRC) in 2012, chose the FRC for his act of violence because the SPLC listed them as a “hate group,” he said.
The SPLC removing the list won’t be enough to fend off his lawsuit, Awaz said Thursday. “Let me reiterate: I’m only just getting started,” he wrote on Twitter. “My case is ongoing. I will see justice.”
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