SPLC adds rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali to list of anti-Muslim extremists
By Evan Lips | November 2, 2016, 16:36 EDT
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Southern Poverty Law Center, the nonprofit legal advocacy group noted for its work fighting organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups, recently released a list of prominent anti-Muslim extremists.
Making the list was native Somali female activist who has fought for free speech and the civil rights of Muslim women: Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
The SPLC claims in its “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists” that “although she now positions herself as an ex-Muslim champion of women’s rights,” Hirsi Ali’s “anti-Muslim rhetoric is remarkably toxic.”
Hirsi Ali, 46, was five years old when she was subjected to female genital mutilation. She later immigrated to the Netherlands in 1992. Hirsi Ali had been a devout Muslim but, according to statements made during various interviews, became disenchanted with the religion’s strict codes after entering college.
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Hirsi Ali later recanted her claim of fleeing civil war in Somalia after Dutch authorities began questioning her reasons for asylum, shortly after she was elected to the the Dutch parliament. Prior to leaving the Netherlands, she helped a filmmaker, Theo van Gogh, produce the 2004 movie Submission, which looked to bring awareness of the abuses women are subjected to in Islamic societies.
A Muslim fundamentalist later tracked down van Gogh on a street in Amsterdam, killing him. Van Gogh’s killer also attempted to cut his head off and later used his knife to pin a note to van Gogh’s body in which he expressed his intentions to kill Hirsi Ali as well.
Hirsi Ali immigrated to the United States in 2006.
The SPLC described van Gogh’s film as a “short and provocative film about women and Islam.”
Hirsi Ali later founded the AHA Foundation, a New York City-based nonprofit that bills itself as a defender of women’s rights. The SPLC’s write-up, however, neglected to reference the foundation and instead focused on Hirsi-Ali’s 2007 comments about how the West is “at war with Islam” and notes that Brandeis University later withdrew an honorary degree for her in 2014.
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The SPLC compiled the list with the assistance of the left-wing group Media Matters for America, which it describes as “a resource on anti-Muslim public figures for reporters and media professionals.”
Also gracing the SPLC’s list is Daniel Pipes, who holds a Ph.D. in Islamic history from Harvard and who has also taught at the Ivy League school.
The National Review, a conservative magazine, caught wind of the SPLC’s list and in an editorial criticized the SPLC for its inclusion of Pipes and Hirsi Ali.
“The main offense of Pipes and Hirsi Ali seems to be the unforgivable sin of being simultaneously well-informed about the actual state of the Muslim world and coolly critical of many of its leaders, institutions and ideologies,” the magazine’s editorial notes. “Not everyone on the SPLC list is an Islamic scholar — but to rank them alongside Nazis, Klansmen, and those who encourage and do violence in the name of an extremist ideology? Preposterous.”
— National Review (@NRO) November 2, 2016
Heidi Beirich, director of Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, said in a prepared statement that the organization produced the manual “because Muslims in America continue to be vilified by a network of anti-Muslim extremists spreading baseless and damaging lies and we think the media can play a role in helping to stop it.”
Writing for the pro-Israel Tablet Magazine, Lee Smith described the SPLC’s list as “sad but telling” as it represented “not a list of violent extremists — who certainly do exist — but is instead a blacklist of prominent writers whose opinions on a range of cultural and political issues are offensive to the SPLC.”
Lee reached out to Majid Nawaz, a British activist of Pakistani descent who founded Quilliam, a counter-extremism think tank focusing on fighting the Islamic extremist narrative.
Lee asked Nawaz for a reaction.
“A bunch of first-world, comfortable liberal Americans who are not Muslims have decided from their comfortable perch to label me, an activist who is working within his Muslim community to push back against extremism, an anti-Muslim extremist,” Nawaz told Lee. “They’ve put a target on my head — this is what putting people on lists does.
We ask Islam to reform itself & when moderate Muslims attempt to do that, the SPLC calls them “extremists.” https://t.co/SKLNfUl5J1
— Jason C. (@CounterMoonbat) November 1, 2016
“When Theo van Gogh was killed in the Netherlands, a list was stuck to his body that included Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s name. It was a hit list. When Bangladeshi reformers were hacked to death by jihadist terrorists, they were working off lists.
“Only fascists produce lists.”
The National Review editorial noted that many of the people appearing on the SPLC’s list “have themselves” been targets of extremist violence.
“About those violent extremists, the SPLC is strangely circumspect,” the editorial surmised. “Maybe if one of them waved a Confederate flag.”