FPI's James Kirckick Quoted by PRI on the SPLC
In "Who is an anti-Muslim Extremist?" Matthew Bell of Public Radio International reports:
American Muslims are under attack.
“They have been vilified as murderers, accused of conspiring to take over the United States and impose Shariah religious law, described as enemies of women and subjected to hundreds of violent hate crime attacks,” states the Southern Poverty Law Center in a new online publication called, “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.”
“Fueling this hatred has been the propaganda, the vast majority of it completely baseless, produced and popularized by a network of anti-Muslim extremists and their enablers,” the SPLC report says.
And then the prominent hate group watchdog names names, 15 of them in all — people it sees as the worst offenders…
But a couple of the names on the SPLC’s list have raised some eyebrows.
One of them is Maajid Nawaz….
Nawaz has his defenders, though. They say his voice is exactly what is needed to stand up for Muslims and confront the real Muslim extremists.
“Maajid Nawaz ... is a liberal in the greatest sense of the term,” says James Kirchick, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Initiative, a conservative think-tank in Washington. Kirchick is also a correspondent for the Daily Beast.
Maajid Nawaz (left) and fellow British citizen Ian Nisbet hold up copies of the holy Quran as they are led to court in Cairo, Egypt in March 2004. Nawaz and Nisbet were among a group of 26 people arrested in Egypt and sentenced to jail time for promoting the goals of an illegal Islamist group.
Kirchick says Nawaz “believes in individual rights and freedom, and he believes in a liberal interpretation of Islam than condemns terrorism, that respects the human rights of all people, including nonbelievers or ex-believers.”
“He’s one of the strongest voices for liberalism within Islam,” Kirchick says.
Another name on the SPLC’s list that Kirchick and others take issue with is Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born former Muslim who has been unreserved in her criticism of Islam.
Kirchick says putting out lists of names like this one is really a distraction.
“We’re losing perspective,” he says. “I abhor Pam Geller and what she says, and what she stands for. But Pam Geller has never tried to kill anybody. People have tried to kill Pam Geller.”
“We should really be focusing on who is threatening people’s lives with violence,” Kirchick adds. “It’s not [Geller, Ali and Nawaz]. It’s Islamic extremists.”
To read this report, and listen to an expanded verion of Kirchick's remarks, click here.
The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.