Bill Maher has been called everything from racist to an Islamaphobe for his heated debates over the nature of Islam, but Friday night he found himself on the same side of the issue when counter-extremism expert, Maajid Nawaz, guested on his HBO show, “Real Time.”
Nawaz, who is also the founder of anti-extremist think-tank Quilliam, announced his plan to file a crowd-funded defamation of character lawsuit against the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a nonprofit legal advocacy organization specializing in civil rights that put Nawaz on an “anti-Muslim extremists” list.
“I’d like to be part of that crowd,” Maher said, offering his hand in support and encouraging the studio audience to also support Nawaz’s efforts.
“It’s funny,” Maher added, “you’re fighting extremists but they call you an extremist.”
SPLC calls Nawaz “part of the ‘ex-radical’ circuit of former Islamists who use that experience to savage Islam.” His Quilliam Foundation lobbies government and public institutions for more nuanced policies regarding Islam and on the need for greater democracy in the Muslim world whilst empowering.
“I am hoping to achieve two things,” Nawaz told Echo in 2008. “The first is I want to demonstrate how the Islamist ideology is incompatible with Islam. Secondly, I want to develop a western Islam that is at home in Britain and in Europe.
“There are other groups focused on trying to develop a more tolerant version of Islam, but they are not countering the radical form of Islam.We want to reverse radicalisation by taking on their arguments and countering them.”