Maajid Nawaz Talks to Oliver Bullough

20150526_195335Maajid Nawaz begins with a shocking tale from his home town of Southend. At the age of 15 he was about to take a racist beating from supporters of Combat 18. A local, Maajid  believes was called Matt, attempted to step in and was stabbed multiple times by the skinhead thugs.

In a later episode his friend fooled the thugs into believing he had a bomb in a rucksack. They backed off and it taught Nawaz the power of fear. It was his first real step to radicalisation.

At 16 he joined the Islamist Jihadist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. The student Nawaz was expelled for his political activities. He later went to SOAS but travelled extensively in Pakistan and Denmark creating and building Jihadist groups. At 24, he was in Egypt when 9/11 happened. He was arrested and subjected to inhumane treatment, although he escaped the levels of torture that many fellow inmates experienced. He was there for four years. Whilst in jail he came to the conclusion that Islamic Jihad was essentially a fascist ideology overlaid over Islam. He left Egypt and prison as a liberal committed to human rights.

Maajid founded Quilliam, a London-based think tank that focuses on Islamism as the cause of Muslim terrorism. It lobbies governments in order to demonstrate how Islamist ideology is incompatible with Islam.

In 2009 he joined the Liberal Democrats, because he believed and wanted to show that the democratic system could embrace even those who has sought to oppose and undermine it.

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