Maajid Nawaz wins defamation lawsuit against Reuters Worldcheck for calling him a “terrorist”

You may know that Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz has sued the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for putting him on its “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists” along with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. That suit is still in progress, but his (and Hirsi Ali’s) inclusion is palpable nonsense. Nawaz is a Muslim heads a reformist organization, and both he and Hirsi Ali are Muslim reformers (see Hirsi Ali’s last book, Heretic, a blueprint for reforming Islam).

But you may not know that Nawaz also sued Thomson Reuters World-Check, which describes itself as “a highly structured database of intelligence on heightened risk individuals and organizations.” That organization desginated Nawaz as a “terrorist” despite the fact that, as head of the think tank Quilliam, he spends much of his time fighting terrorism and trying to create a more moderate version of Islam.

As the Clarion Project reports today (they did misspell “Thomson” as “Thomas”), the Reuters World-Check called Nawaz a “terrorist” on a list of people sent to subscribers who want to ensure that they “are fulfilling their legal obligations to fight financial crime” (presumably by not funding “terrorists” like Nawaz).

Nawaz sued for defamation. And he won.


“Mr. Nawaz’s World-Check profile had included him in the “Terrorism” category and we accept that this categorisation was made in error,” Thomas Reuters said in a statement. “We corrected this error on 27th April 2016 and removed Mr. Nawaz from that category. We have apologized to Mr. Nawaz for the error and apologize to our subscribers for any misunderstanding.”

So far so good. I hope he wins the lawsuit against the SPLC, which is increasingly veering from its original mission to defend civil rights and promote tolerance.

In other good news, Clarion reports that Nawaz won the 2017 PinkNews Broadcaster of the Year Award for defending gay rights on his LBC radio show. They also quote from his acceptance speech:

“When I saw that 0% of British Muslims surveyed believed that being gay was ever morally acceptable, when I saw that 52% of British Muslims wanted homosexuality to be criminalised, when I saw that the only 10 countries in the world that punished being gay with death were all Muslim-majority, I was ashamed, infuriated, outraged, and angry all at the same time,” Nawaz told the crowd on accepting the award. But I knew Muslims who were gay, and so I realised that these results were also due to fear of speaking out.

It requires leadership. The sort of leadership that the British Muslim Mayor of London provided here tonight. The sort of leadership that Imam Muhammad provided here tonight by offering prayers for everyone here. And that’s the sort of leadership I, and my producer Sandra, wanted to offer through my LBC show. My show aims to be a home for you all. Thank you for this great honour in being able to speak out on your behalf.”

I was happy to see that the award ceremony was also attended by Prime Minister Theresa May, and Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party. It’s time for people to stop accusing Nawaz of “fostering terrorism.” His activities are the antithesis of terrorism.

h/t: Malgorzata


  1. Frank Bath
    Posted October 22, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    This is good news and I hope Maajid wins against SPLC too. I sometimes hear his LBC phone-in programme and I’m always impressed by the clarity and iron logic of his arguments – he can tie illiberals into quick knots.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 22, 2017 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Very good news. He is about as much a terrorist as Trump is an intellectual.

    • Adam L
      Posted October 22, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      I bet a lot of Trump believers would agree with your second sentence too!

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 4:24 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the chuckle. 😀

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 22, 2017 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    There’s no questioning Nawaz’s mettle.

    • BJ
      Posted October 22, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Tell me if I’m wrong here, but it seems to me his case against the SPLC is very different and very unlikely to succeed. In this case, the label of “terrorist” is well-defined and, more importantly, is used to directly impact his ability to conduct business. The SPLC calling him an “anti-Muslim extremist” is technically a matter of opinion — as is how one defines “anti-Muslim extremist” — and would fall under the category of criticizing a public figure. About right?

      • BJ
        Posted October 22, 2017 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

        I also just realized that this case was won in the UK, so his suit against the SPLC will be much more difficult due to venue.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 22, 2017 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

        No question about it; he’s got a much tougher row to hoe with the SPLC.

        • BJ
          Posted October 22, 2017 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

          Is there really anything that could win such a case for him? All I could see making it possible is some sort of straightforward evidence of knowingly lying with malicious intent, like emails being found in discovery showing a back-and-forth within the organization about how to best defame him to hurt his reputation or something.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted October 22, 2017 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

            I’m not a libel law expert, but given that Nawaz is a “public figure,” he’ll have to prove the SPLC published the statements about him with “actual malice,” meaning with knowledge of their falsity or with reckless disregard as to whether they were true or false. That’s gonna be tough, given that the statements in questions are more in the nature of an opinion than a concise statement of fact. His best shot might be the SPLC’s refusal to retract its statements after he complained and after the petition (signed by many of us here) demanding that Nawaz and Hirsi Ali be removed from the anti-Muslim list.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted October 22, 2017 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

              I’d at least like to see Nawaz’s complaint survive a summary judgment motion, so that the case can proceed to a jury trial.

              (Even so, I’m not sure I’d like to see him actually win in an American court, since a large judgment in his favor could have a “chilling effect” on clearly protected speech by others. I suspect the presiding judge might well prevent the case from ever reaching the jury on the merits.)

              • BJ
                Posted October 22, 2017 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

                “Even so, I’m not sure I’d like to see him actually win in an American court, since a large judgment in his favor could have a ‘chilling effect’ on clearly protected speech by others. I suspect the presiding judge might well prevent the case from ever reaching the jury on the merits.”

                I agree. It’s really not a case he *should* win, for the reasons we’ve both stated.

                But I’m not a libel law expert either. I’m not any kind of expert (I went through two years of law school before leaving to run my business, though I may go back at some point now that I’ve sold it).

              • Posted October 22, 2017 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

                Yeah, I don’t think he’s got much of a shot against the SPLC, but it sounds like he’s gonna go heavy on the post-hoc lying about him and the rationale provided, e.g. “we know he’s an anti-Muslim extremist because he once went to a strip club.”

            • nicky
              Posted October 22, 2017 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

              ‘Malice’, I’m not an expert either but according to Wikipedia it is not only with ‘knowledge the statements were false’, but also ‘reckless disregard whether they were false’. The latter gives him at least a good argument.

              • nicky
                Posted October 22, 2017 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

                sorry, you mentioned the ‘reckless disregard’.

      • Taz
        Posted October 22, 2017 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

        I also doubt he can win a libel case against the SPLC. However, I think the Pinknews Broadcaster of the Year award will be a tougher pill for them to swallow. Any time someone mentions the “extremist” designation, this award can be thrown back in their face.

        • nicky
          Posted October 22, 2017 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

          Still in the hierarchy of victimhood Muslims beat LBGT’s for some unfathomable reason.

  4. Mark R.
    Posted October 22, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad to hear this, but I’m still puzzled as to how SPLC and Reuters World-check could have gotten this so wrong. I don’t think SPLC will win this suit either; let’s hope reason prevails.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted October 22, 2017 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      I think it is b/c Islamic apologists have campaigned against him, claiming to leftist organizations he is stringently anti-Islamic. Those organizations are anxious to be seen as tolerant and accommodating toward different faiths and cultures.

      • Mark R.
        Posted October 22, 2017 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Mark, that’s a good explanation.

  5. Jenny Haniver
    Posted October 22, 2017 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Oh, drat! My first thought was “Hallelujah!” but can’t say that.

  6. Norbert Francis
    Posted October 22, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    What is totally bewildering to me is that after all this time, after their cover was blown with major coverage in the media, that the SPLC hasn’t tried to get in front of this scandal and just taken Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali off of their witch hunt list. Maybe not bewildering by deeply troubling: maybe they and their fanatical and hysterical followers are expecting to prevail in the lawsuit (the US isn’t the UK when it comes to proving libel). The way this might be lining up should have us up at night. If Nawaz fails against the SPLC, we are all in big trouble. Get ready for Blasphemy Law.

  7. Heather Hastie
    Posted October 22, 2017 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    This is great news, and I’m really pleased for Maajid Nawaz that he’s been able to clear his name.

    I’d really like to know how such a stupid mistake was made in the first place. Apart from SPLC, the only people who think Nawaz is a terrorist are the far right in Britain. They believe his organisation is a front for terrorist activity and all the things Nawaz and his fellow activists do and say are to divert attention from their real mission. Are those the kind of people Thomson Reuters listens to?

    • Jonathan Dore
      Posted October 27, 2017 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      In this case it could be something as simple as out of date information: if all their data relates to his time in an Egyptian jail, and no one knowledgeable has updated the general description since, they would assume he still held the same beliefs.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted October 27, 2017 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

        They know. They just think it’s all lies to suck everybody in. Taqqiya.

  8. Richard Sanderson
    Posted October 22, 2017 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    I wish Maajid all the best. I’m not pro-suing everybody who labels you something, however, if libel laws mean anything, suing a powerful ands wealthy organisation like the SPLC is what they are there for – the little man punching up. Especially, as the SPLC’s claim is such a lie.

    However, I am uncertain if he will be successful. It will be difficult for him if he’s going through the US courts.

    But remember the names of those on the left who have sided with the SPLC. We know about the usual scumbags such as ** ******** and his band of obsessive fleas, but don’t forget creeps such as PZ Myers have come out against Maajid Nawaz. If you needed any more evidence PZ is an anti-liberal, left-wing fascist, his attitude towards progressive Muslims confirms everything.

    • BJ
      Posted October 22, 2017 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      “If you needed any more evidence PZ is an anti-liberal, left-wing fascist, his attitude towards progressive Muslims confirms everything.”

      And in favor of religion so long as it’s one sanctioned by his regressive friends. I’m not sure if it’s because he believes his own crap, or if the man is so obsequious he’ll do anything to stay in their good graces.

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 4:34 am | Permalink

      Hard to believe it was Pharyngula that turned me on to Hirsi Ali, back in the day.

      They loved her, before they hated her.

      • darrelle
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink


      • Vaal
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        I had just visited PZ’s site a few days ago. I immediately found him supporting a tweet that promoted a misleading, derogatory caricature of New Atheists.

        In the next post he supported a tweet that said “how to find Nazis: Post F*ck Nazis, watch for the “don’t call people you disagree with Nazis” comments; you found Nazis!

        Yet we are in a time when “Nazi” and “White Supremacist” is being thrown around in the most egregiously irresponsible manner to slander people who don’t agree. Google “leftist students shut down ucsc college republicans” as only one example.

        It’s exactly this crazed “you are with us or you too are a Nazi/White Supremacist” thinking, casting it’s too-wide net of slander, that needs to be challenged. Especially if a far leftist says “F Nazis” we really DO need to ask “who exactly are you calling a Nazi and why? Are you using the word accurately and responsibly?”

        But should a person react with this level headed caution – rather than lock step fist pumping “YA!!!” – then that person can be branded a Nazi as well.

        It’s just a chilling way of thinking and it’s been such a train-wreck experience watching PZ go down that rabbit hole.

  9. Jake Sevins
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    It surprised me that Nawaz elected to file a lawsuit against the SPLC funded by donations (which includes my donation). I would have thought a better use of those funds would be to launch a PR campaign against the SPLC to educate liberals to how badly the SPLC has veered off course. This has the chance of both getting Nawaz and Ali off the SPLC’s list as well as providing corrective pressure for future actions by the SPLC in order that it might once again become an organization fighting the good fight.

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 4:37 am | Permalink

      Perhaps a suit by its very nature will attract more attention to the issues than any PR campaign could.

      At the very least, I’ll be interested in hearing just how the SPLC frames their defense.

  10. colnago80
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    I was happy to see that the award ceremony was also attended by Prime Minister Theresa May, and Jeremy Corbyn,

    Before patting Mr. Corbyn on the back, it should be pointed out that he is a well known Israel basher. Many in his own labor party have accused him of being, at the least, a borderline antisemite.

    • BJ
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      He’s definitely an antisemite. You can only do and say so many antisemitic things (or support so many antisemitic people who openly wish and work for the extermination of Jews) before everyone should know your position on the matter.

    • Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know if Corbyn is an anti-Semite, but even if he is, he can do the right thing here.

  11. Posted October 31, 2017 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    This article labels Ayaan Hirsi Ali a “Muslim reformer”. Ayaan is not a muslim, she’s an atheist. Perhaps the author intended to say she advocated Islamic reform, but that is not how it reads.

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