Recently, the famous anti-extremism campaigner Majid Nawaz was declared an ‘Anti-Muslim Extremist’ by the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC) in what Nick Cohen succinctly labelled ‘the first ever fatwa of the white left’. And indeed, Cohen is right in his description.
For anyone who is familiar with the work of Majid Nawaz, they would know that he is anything but an extremist. After moving away from radical Jihad, he co-founded the Quilliam Foundation – a think tank dedicated to counter-extremism, particularly against radical Islam. He did this as a Muslim because he, to quote, wanted to “demonstrate how the Islamist ideology is incompatible with Islam.”
Indeed, he has gone on to success doing this, writing personal stories on the topic, conducting frequent talks and debates all whilst championing his status as a moderate Muslim. To label him ‘Anti-Muslim’ does a disservice to not only Nawaz, but scores of Muslims across the world who abhor and reject the violence of groups like so-called Islamic State.
It’s curious then, why the SPLC would then decide to slap Nawaz with the label of an anti-Muslim extremist, lumping him in with the likes of the KKK and the EDL.
If one goes to the SPLC’s own page on Nawaz, you will simply find a long paragraph that reads more like an attempted character assassination than anything else. It states that Nawaz is more interested in “self-promotion and money” than combating extremism. This makes me think that someone at the SPLC has a personal grudge against Nawaz, and nothing hurts more than slapping someone in this line of work with the label of ‘extremist’. Although luckily, the SPLC was greeting with nothing but rightful ridicule and scorn over this ruling.
Nawaz isn’t the only victim of this however. Many elements of the hard-left often pour homophobic and sexist scorn on their opponents, as in the case of Angela Eagle announcing her candidacy for Labour leader and the disgusting social media reaction from many Corbyn supporters as a result, or the ‘Bernie Bros’ in the United States whom again used slurs against Hilary Clinton and her supporters.
It’s an issue that is perhaps most pertinent to you, Gryphon reader, as it’s widespread across western university campuses. Brendan O’Neill called a certain group of students ‘Stepford students’ and described them as such: “To the untrained eye, they seem like your average book-devouring, ideas-discussing, H&M-adorned youth, but anyone who’s spent more than five minutes in their company will know that these students are far more interested in shutting debate down than opening it up.”
These are the students who issue threats against ideological opponents and shut down those who they disagree with. It makes a mockery of basic liberty and the right to free speech – and as Cohen hinted at, with every passing day the hard-left starts to reflect the attitudes of extremist groups, Nawaz may be the first victim of the liberal fatwa, but he most certainly won’t be the last.
(Image courtesy of Quilliam Foundation)