Why Have Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali Been Smeared As Extremists?


If a case study were needed to showcase the rot in the modern left’s moral compass, the deterioration of the Southern Poverty Law Centre into a megaphone for regressive shills and fascist extremists provides such an instructive example.

As many will know from the mercifully vocal backlash, the SPLC recently published a “Field Guide to anti-Muslim Extremists” which included, among others, Muslim reformer and anti-extremist activist, Maajid Nawaz. This is not the first time I have had to defend Nawaz in print against the degradations of deformed self-righteous leftism, so I shan’t repeat myself at too much length as to his history and importance as a voice of reason in this most divisive issue of religious extremism. Suffice it to say that an organisation that once stood firm against the scourge of racism in the American South, now sees fit to smear as an “anti-Muslim extremist”, an anti-extremism activist who publically defends democratic, secular and liberal values at great cost to his own personal safety from both Jihadi fascists and white racist thugs (with whom he has a history of violent run-ins since childhood). The snake is no longer eating itself, it has concluded its meal, vanished down its own oesophagus and is now moving onto the cheese and brandy course.

Also included in this assassination wish-list for would-be jihadists, is ex-Muslim feminist activist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali , who at this point is probably fatalistically accustomed to this kind of baseless slander and reckless endangerment. After her artistic collaborator Theo van Gogh was butchered by a Muslim fanatic for the crime of critiquing the treatment of women in Islam, Ms Hirsi Ali has had to live under permanent armed guard, a fact that her left-wing critics consistently ignore when trying to paint her as the aggressor and (generally in tones of extreme condescension) a global religion of over a billion people as her hapless cringing victims.

The snake is no longer eating itself, it has concluded its meal, vanished down its own oesophagus and is now moving onto the cheese and brandy course.

The SPLC barely even attempts salience in its condemnation of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. They merely recapitulate and extrapolate upon irrelevant inconsistencies in her history and the fact that she lied in order to gain asylum to Holland, a fact that she openly admits to in detail in her book, Infidel, and refers to repeatedly in her subsequent two books. The weasel language used to describe her story is hard to overstate. The SPLC, before rattling off a list of accusations of deception, states that she “says she endured female genital mutilation”, (the disgustingly sleazy implication of which I’m sure I don’t have to explain) and that she moved to the USA after “leaving the Netherlands and its parliament in disgrace” forgetting that she left the Netherlands when the government refused to protect her from the many (and following the death of her colleague, credible) death threats she continues to receive. Overall the main gripe among certain Western leftists (who have abandoned any claim to the term “liberal” at this point) against Ms Hirsi Ali is the crime of having good reasons to leave Islam compounded by her temerity to publicly discuss those reasons.

While equally morally indefensible and inaccurate, there is something even more earnestly pathetic about the bullet-pointed list of charges against Nawaz. Clearly having never read his work they quote him as having said:

“The ideology of non-violent Islamists is broadly the same as that of violent Islamists; they disagree only on tactics.”

This is an accurate quote which, even out of context is obviously irrelevant. Apart from anything else, it is absolutely true. For a legal advocacy organisation, the SPLC shows an infantile lack of understanding for the technicalities of language. Central to Nawaz’s work has been the project to create a safer and more harmonious environment for moderate Muslims in the West by clarifying the terminology around Islam and extremism. An “Islamist” is anyone who wishes to impose the rule of Sharia as a system of government, though they may pursue this goal by non-violent means. A “violent Islamist” or “Jihadist” is one who wishes to do so by means of violence or warfare.

They go on to whine about an “offensive” cartoon Nawaz tweeted out, clearly either ignorant or wilfully ignorant of the details. In actual fact the cartoon was a depiction of two stick figures called “Jesus and Mo” greeting each other and the body of his tweet said (in Arabic) “God is greater than to be offended by this” – an affirmation of the resilience of his faith and his God against those who would enfeeble them through obsessive offence-taking. Oh, and he also went to a strip club where he tried to “touch a naked lap-dancer”. You can almost hear the crickets chirping at this one. Apparently being both brown-skinned and non-devout enough (by his own frequent admittance) to go to a strip-club renders one an anti-Muslim extremist. This is patronising Orientalism of the tackiest kind.

The piddling anecdotes the SPLC have cherry-picked in order to condemn Nawaz by “his own words” are about as desperate a straw-clutch as a hormone-addled teenager furtively leafing through the pages of a Jane Austen novel in search of graphic sex scenes.

This is schoolyard-gossip unbecoming of any organisation claiming a noble legacy and it would be laughable if it weren’t so callous and irresponsible.

I have signed the petition to have Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz removed from this list, though it does not, in my opinion, go quite far enough in demanding an immediate and unconditional apology:



Robin has a background in the UK, South Africa, and the Middle-East. A keen follower of international current affairs, he holds a Masters degree in Global and Comparative Politics. He is a contributing editor to On Netflix Now. Follow him on Twitter @Robin_GJ