Muslim Community Rejects Maajid Nawaz’s “derad” – Again

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.

Tommy Robinson: The man behind the British version of Pegida

English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson is now the UK co-ordinator for the anti-Islamist movement Pegida, which is launching next week in Britain.

It’s the latest twist in Robinson’s controversial life. Robinson’s eventful career has seen him briefly embrace anti-extremist think tank Quilliam and serve jail sentences for mortgage fraud and a passport offence.

In the city of Dresden, where “anti-Islamisation” group Pegida originated, weekly demonstrations attract thousands of middle-class Germans. Now, 33-year-old Robinson is hoping the movement can attract a similar demographic in Britain, in contrast to the EDL, whose events became notorious for loutish behaviour and alcohol-fuelled violence.

“We’re isolated, away from pubs. We are going to walk from here in silence because now we are trying to create a passive resistance to what’s happening.

“We are taking the whole football culture, which was embedded in the EDL, out of it and we are trying to create a safe environment,” he adds. Robinson founded the EDL in 2009, after Islamist extremists shouted abuse at troops during a march in his home town of Luton. Robinson promises that when Pegida march, anyone who shouts or shows any sign of aggression will be removed.

But while the tactics may have changed, Robinson’s fiercely anti-Islamic views show no sign of having mellowed. He’s calling for a halt to all immigration by Muslims, the closure of religious Sharia courts, a ban on the wearing of the burqa in public, and an end to the building of new mosques. Suggest that any of these ideas might be considered extremist, and he bridles. “If people wish to be a religious Muslim inside their home, then fine,” he says.

From Robinson’s perspective, the extremist views represented by groups such as the so-called Islamic State are indistinguishable from devout Islam, even though numerous mainstream Muslim organisations have condemned the jihadists and their interpretation of the Koran.