A prominent British Muslim activist in Australia campaigning against Islamic extremism has been snubbed by 45 Muslim organisations. Maajid Nawaz’s promoter Think Inc said the UK government adviser and author wanted to meet as many Muslim leaders as possible to discuss counter-extremism with them.
Think Inc contacted 46 organisations, including schools, across Melbourne and Sydney and received one affirmative response.
Muslim Students Australia NSW was among those who declined to meet him.
Think Inc director Suzi Jamil said MSA NSW replied via email saying it and “the wider Australian Muslim community” did not support Nawaz’s views and “his presence in Australia would not be welcomed”
The Lebanese Muslim Association did not meet with Nawaz and declined to respond to AAP’s questions about him. Nawaz is a former member of the radical group Hizb ut-Tahrir and spent five years imprisoned in Egypt. During imprisonment, he studied human rights and had a change of heart. Still a Muslim, though not devout, Nawaz went on to co-found counter-extremism think-tank Quilliam and call for “secular Islam” to reform the Islamic faith.
Australian Muslim human rights activist Sara Saleh clashed with Nawaz on the ABC’s Monday edition of current affairs program The Drum. “He has gone from one extreme to the other end in saying: I am the gatekeeper of what it is to be a Muslim, what it is to be appropriate, what kind of Islamism is acceptable,” Ms Saleh said.
Australian Muslim Women’s Association president Silma Ihram was not asked to meet Nawaz but said the way he tackled the issue of extremism got Muslims “a bit off side”. “The fact that he’s not a practising Muslim doesn’t help at all,” she said.
January 30, 2014
Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the liberal Democrats) has said he will not drop a Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate who sparked widespread protests among some Muslims by tweeting a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed. Maajid Nawaz says he has received death threats since posting the image earlier this month, while a petition calling for him to be ditched as Lib Dem candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn in next year’s general election has gathered more than 20,000 signatures, and a rival petition in his defence has more than 7,000.
Mr Clegg told LBC 97.3 radio that he would not personally have tweeted the controversial cartoon of a stick figure of Jesus saying “Hi” to a stick figure called Mo, who replies “How you doin’?”But it is important to show respect to people of all faiths, beliefs and religious persuasions when discussing religious matters. But the Lib Dem leader said: “He is not going to be dropped as a Liberal Democrat candidate. He has the right – as any Muslim, non-Muslim or anyone of any faith or none in this country has – to say things even if that causes offence to other people.
Mr Nawaz, the co-founder of counter-extremism think-tank the Quilliam Foundation, posted the image after appearing in a BBC television debate about religious tolerance which featured two students wearing it on T-shirts. He said that he was sending out the “bland” cartoon to show that, as a Muslim, he did not feel it was a threat to his faith and to demonstrate that “Muslims are able to see things we don’t like, yet remain calm and pluralist. My intention was not to speak for any Muslim but myself – rather, it was to defend my religion from those who have hijacked it just because they shout the loudest”.
The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nick-clegg-will-not-drop-lib-dem-candidate-maajid-nawaz-who-tweeted-a-cartoon-of-the-prophet-mohammed-and-jesusclegg-will-not-drop-lib-dem-candidate-9095691.html
The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/28/speaking-islam-loudmouths-hijacked
A former activist in the radical Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir has been chosen to fight a marginal parliamentary seat for the Liberal Democrats. Maajid Nawaz renounced his past and called for a “secular Islam” six years ago, helping to set up the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think-tank. He was selected to contest the north London constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn, a three-way marginal currently held by Labour’s Glenda Jackson with a majority of just 42. Mr Nawaz, who is 35, said: I am looking forward to running for public office. Quilliam will remain a priority for me because its values shape my beliefs and outlook.”
Maajid Nawaz, former member of Hizb ut-Tahrir and executive director of the Quilliam Foundation, urges a more pro-active stance of the state in integrating Muslims in the Republic of Ireland. Speaking at the World Summit Against Extremism in Dublin, he emphasises the question of identity as crucial to the integration of Muslims. The state and the public need to engage in a debate on national identity in order to avoid the mistakes of other European countries where there are often tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims and a lacking sense of belonging felt among Muslims to a particular society. Therefore, Irish society needs to engage with the grievances of Muslim, ‘real or perceived’. Of particular importance, according to Nawaz, is the promotion of ‘counter-narratives’ against extremism and radicalism by charismatic Muslim leaders who stir young Muslims away from violence.
Islam4UK spokesman Anjem Choudary and Maajid Nawaz, from the counter-extremism think tank the Quilliam Foundation, join Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman to debate the implications of a government ban on the radical Islamist group Islam4UK.
Maajid Nawaz, a British citizen and former member of the Islamist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir, is now being funded by the British government to promote ideas on Islam. During his membership to Hisb ut-Tahrir, he was imprisoned in Egypt for belonging to a banned political party. After Nawaz resigned from Islamism he became active in the Muslim anti-extremism think tank The Quilliam Foundation, of which he is the director today. After publicly renouncing the cause he served all his adult life, he is now in Pakistan sharing the idea that moderation and democracy go hand-in-hand with Islam.
Former Islamist Ed Husain felt the denial of a visa by the United Kingdom to Dr Yusuf Al Qaradawi, the well-known Islamic scholar based in Doha, was absolutely justified. Speaking to The Peninsula at the Four Seasons Hotel yesterday, Husain said: “He is a man who speaks two languages. There should be no exceptions in condemning the deaths of innocent people. When it comes to Jews, he thinks it is favourable to kill. It was right to refuse him a visa to the UK because his views have an audience there.” Husain, along with Maajid Nawaz, has just launched the Quilliam Foundation. It is named after Sheikh William Henry Abdullah Quilliam, an English solicitor and convert to Islam who founded the UK’s first mosque in Liverpool in the 19th century. The aim of the Foundation is to present Islam’s moderate viewpoint as opposed to the venom spewed out by radical elements. “On Muslim-related issues, it is jihadists and Islamists who dominate the airwaves (in the UK). We will give these a counter-balance,” said Husain. This could be done by use of the scriptures, which presents the true meanings and beliefs.
Two former Islamists are to launch a Muslim thinktank aimed at improving relations with the west by challenging extremist ideologies. The Quilliam Foundation believes Muslims should shake off the “cultural baggage of the Indian subcontinent” and the “political burdens of the Arab world”. Its director is Maajid Nawaz, 30, who was adopted as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International after being jailed in Egypt for membership of Hizb ut-Tahrir. Since returning to London he has written pamphlets criticising the party. His deputy is Ed Husain, 32, the author of The Islamist, which details his youth in east London moving through radical groups including Hizb ut-Tahrir. The policy institute, to be launched next month, is named after Shaikh William Henry Abdullah Quilliam, an English solicitor and convert, who founded the UK’s first mosque in Liverpool at the end of the 19th century. Nawaz insists the foundation is independent. “[The money has come] mainly from Middle Eastern businessmen and Muslims who are concerned about how Islam is being abused.” Owen Bowcott and Riazat Butt reports.