|Southern Poverty Law Center. Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
As you have almost undoubtedly heard by now, the Southern Poverty Law Center has added Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz to their list of 15 "prominent anti-Muslim extremists." The list takes the form of their Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists, which is described as "a resource on anti-Muslim public figures for reporters and media professionals."
The Southern Poverty Law Center is quite clear in explaining how they would like to see their guide used by members of the news media in their coverage of Islam:
We hope journalists will use this guide to learn more about these extremists and the damage they cause to society and either deny them a public platform altogether or be better prepared to publicly challenge their hateful rhetoric and misinformation.It sounds as though they would prefer that the news media deny access to their platforms to anyone on this list, unless it is to expose "the damaging impact they have" or their efforts to "spread hate and bigotry." This is their attempt to inform the media that anyone on this list is a bigoted extremist.
If you know anything at all about Nawaz and Hirsi Ali, you already know why this is a problem. I'm too mad at the moment to express myself clearly, so I'll settle for pointing you to a few of the reactions from around the atheist blogosphere which I believe are worth your time:
- Principles and Politics: The Southern Poverty Law Center Loses The Plot (The Ex-Muslim)
- Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali named as "anti-Muslim extremists" by the Southern Poverty Law Center (Why Evolution is True)
- Southern Poverty Law Center: Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz Are "Anti-Muslim Extremists" (Friendly Atheist)
Here is a petition asking the Southern Poverty Law Center to remove Nawaz and Hirsi Ali from their list.
Update: Unfortunately, I've seen many reports indicating that the Southern Poverty Law Center has made it clear that they will not remove these individuals from their list. I suppose that means we will each need to decide for ourselves whether we can continue to support them.