Maajid Nawaz

British activist (born 1977)

Maajid Usman Nawaz (Urdu: ماجد نواز‎, [ˈmaːdʒɪd̪ naːwaːz], born 2 November 1978) is a British activist, author, columnist, radio host and politician. He was the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for London's Hampstead and Kilburn constituency in the 2015 general election. He is also the founding chairman of Quilliam, a counter-extremism think tank that seeks to challenge the narratives of Islamist extremists.

Maajid Nawaz in 2015

Quotes edit

2009 edit

2011 edit

  • [The Prevent definition of Islamism is] so broad that it fails to distinguish between Islamists and politically active Muslims inspired by Islam
  • I didn't imagine sharing a panel with a former neo-Nazi, because, of course, I joined the group I did, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, at 16 after being chased in the streets by [the right-wing extremist group] Combat 18, and being stabbed.
  • What we've come to realise is those two extremes - far-right fascism and Islamist extremism - have a symbiotic relationship, where they mutually reinforce the other's very generalised view of the other, and they feed off each other's propaganda.

2012 edit

Radical: My Journey out of Islamist Extremism (2012) edit

  • As he continued to talk to me, I realized one of the fundamental points about Islamism that so many people fail to understand. The way Osman was speaking wasn’t in the orthodox, religious way of the imam with a stick; he was talking about politics, about events that were happening now. That’s crucial to understanding what Islamism is all about: it isn’t a religious movement with political consequences, it is a political movement with religious consequences.
    • p. 62
  • The one reason that I could not ignore, the one reason that grew deep inside me till it consumed me with guilt, was the realisation that I was abusing my faith for a mere political project. After learning in prison that Islamism was not the religion of Islam, but rather a political ideology dressed up as Islam, I no longer felt guilty simply for criticising a political system inspired by modern European constructs, while justified by seventh-century norms.
    • p. 210
  • If the dangers of racism are apparent, even in a non-violent form, then it was the same for Islamism. Communalist identity politics, self-segregation and group-think are far more damaging to societies in the long run than the odd bomb going off here or there, because it is such a milieu that keeps breeding bomb-makers.
    • p. 211

2013 edit

2015 edit

  • For if liberalism is to mean anything at all, it is duty bound to support without hesitation the dissenting individual over the group, the heretic over the orthodox, innovation over stagnation and free speech over offense.

On Blasphemy (2015) edit

On Blasphemy is an long-form essay written for CentreForum

  • A certain neoorientalism has crept upon us, partly in reaction to the failed militarism of the neo-conservative years, but mainly attributable to historical self-critical attitudes towards the British Empire. This neo-orientalism interprets liberalism as a Western construct ill-fitting to non-Western cultures. Struggling, dissenting liberals within minority community contexts find that they have no greater enemy than these neo-orientalists who lend credence to the idea that they are somehow an inauthentic expression of their ‘native’ culture.
    • p. 1
  • In today’s Britain, the weakest among us are often assumed to be minority communities. In fact, the weakest among us are those minorities-within-minorities for whom the legal right to exit from their communities’ constraints amounts to nothing before the enforcement of cultural and religious shaming.
    • p. 2

2016 edit

  • I think it's important just to distinguish between Islamism and Islam, a religion. What I mean by Islamism is the desire to impose any version of islam over society. Although ideology was sold to me as if it was the religion of Islam and that's what I adopted. I grew up facing a very, very severe form of violent racism, domestically within the UK. I'm talking hammer attacks, machete attacks by Neo-Nazi skinheads, thugs. On many occasions I had to watch as my friends were stabbed before my eyes as a 15 year old. I began seeing myself as separate from the rest of society and an islamist recruiter found me in that state as a young, angry teenager and it was very easy for that recruiter. I joined a group called Hizb ut-Tahrir and that's the group I spent 13 years of my leadership on. … It's the first islamist organization that was responsible for popularizing the notion of resurrecting a modern day theocratic caliphate, as we now see that ISIS has laid claim to. But, my former group, they were the first ones to popularize that term. I ended up in Egypt where I continued to recruit people to this cause. … I am still a Muslim, but I am now liberal. Now, when I was in prison and I was living with the Who's Who of the jihadist terrorist movements and islamist movements, we had a leader of the Muslim brotherhood. When I saw him I thought, "my God, if these guys ever came to power and declared a caliphate, it would be Hell on Earth." Of course, when ISIS eventually did declare the caliphate, that utopian dream that we all used to share has become that dystopic nightmare that we see now.

External links edit

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