The Discovery of Gravitational Waves Is a Whole New Chapter for Science – http://time.com/4217920/discovery-gravitational-waves-science/
We, the undersigned, welcome the call for an independent review into Prevent made by the Independent Reviewer of the UK’s anti-terrorism laws, David Anderson QC, last week.
One year ago the Prevent duty became statutory through the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015: this imposed a duty on public bodies to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.
As a wide cross section of Muslim community activists, academics, lawyers and politicians warned, the duty has in practice charged teachers, doctors and other professionals with monitoring people’s religious and political views.
This is undermining the very ethos and relationships of mutual trust and openness that are fundamental to education and our public services whilst endangering other legal rights and protections. It is eroding civil liberties and deepening discrimination against Muslims.
Last year the Metropolitan police reported that hate crimes against Muslims were up 70%. We must recognise that government counter-terrorism policies like Prevent are helping to create this climate of hostility, sowing fear, division, mistrust and prejudice by reinforcing racist stereotypes, stigmatising Muslim communities and in effect encouraging ethnic profiling.
Despite the fact that Muslims make up just 5% of the population, data from the National Police Chiefs’ Council shows that 67% of those referred for suspected ‘radicalisation’ between 2007-2010 were Muslim, the figure was 56% between 2012-13.
The reason for these figures is not that there is ‘a problem within Islam’ but is rather due to a refusal to acknowledge the political causes of political violence: Muslims are instead treated as a suspect community. The result is that ill-defined concepts like ‘radicalisation’ and ‘extremism’ are applied in a circular and highly racialised manner.
Thus politically engaged Muslim individuals and organisations including CAGE, MEND and the IHRC are routinely attacked in the media.
But Prevent and the CTS Act have also narrowed the space for political dissent in many forms. Anti-fracking and other environmental activists, those campaigning for Palestinian rights, and even those opposing cuts and austerity have been monitored under what Liberty has referred to as the ‘biggest spying operation of all times.’
Prevent is not making anyone safer. Instead it damages the fabric of trust in our society, silences Muslims and dissent, and institutionalises Islamophobia at a time when the far-right is gaining influence in many parts of Europe. It is the embodiment of the ‘radicalisation’ of our supposedly liberal democratic governments themselves.
We would go further than David Anderson and call on the government to take urgent action to repeal this legislation, and for all those working in affected sectors to make clear their opposition to this duty.
Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, Green Party member of the London Assembly
Prof Arun Kundnani, New York University
Dr Douglas Chalmers, President UCU Scotland
Malia Bouattia, NUS Black Students’ Officer, Students Not Suspects
Shelly Asquith, NUS Vice President Welfare
Michael Mansfield QC
Imran Khan & Partners Solicitors
Sir Geoffrey Bindman, QC
Hannah Dee, Defend the Right to Protest
Omar Barghouti, Palestine Human Rights Advocate
Yusuf Hassan, Vice President Student Affairs FOSIS
Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya, University of East London
Professor Karma Nabulsi, Oxford University
Professor Adam Gearey, School of Law, Birkbeck College
Professor Andrea Brady, School of English and Drama, Queen Mary University of London
Professor Marie Breen-Smyth, University of Massachusetts and Visiting Professor, The Queen’s University of Belfast.
Professor Richard Jackson, Professor of Peace Studies, University of Otago
Professor Nadje Al-Ali, Professor of Gender Studies, SOAS University of London
Professor Julian Petley, Professor of Screen Media, Brunel University London
Prof. Peter Hallward, Professor of Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University.
Professor Andrea Cornwall, Head of School, School of Global Studies, University of Sussex
Professor Laleh Khalili, Professor of Middle East Politics, SOAS, University of London
Professor Fiona Macmillan, Professor of Law, Birkbeck, University of London
Professor Franco Vivaldi, Professor of Mathematics, Queen Mary University of London.
Professor Stellan Vinthagen, Endowed Chair, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Professor Debbie Epstein, Professor of Cultural Studies in Education, University of Roehampton (individual capacity)
Professor Timon Screech, Professor of the History of Art, SOAS, University of London
Professor Peter Fitzpatrick, Anniversary Professor of Law, School of Law, Birkbeck.
Professor Geoff King, Professor of Film and TV Studies, Brunel University London
Professor John L Esposito, University Professor & Founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University
Professor Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Professor in Global Thought and Comparative Philosophies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
Professor Des Freedman, Goldsmiths
Professor Natalie Fenton, Media and Communications, Goldsmiths
Professor Augustine John, The UCL Institute of Education – University of London
Professor Geraint A. Wiggins, Professor of Computational Creativity, Queen Mary University of London
Professor Andrea Brady, School of English and Drama, Queen Mary University of London
Professor Michael Loughlin, Professor of Applied Philosophy, Manchester Metropolitan University
Professor Sabine Broeck, University of Bremen, Germany
Professor Bill Bowring, Barrister, Director of the LLM/MA in Human Rights,Birkbeck College, University of London
Professor Stephen Maybank, Professor of Computer Science, Birkbeck College
Professor Raphael Salkie, Professor of Language Studies, University of Brighton
Professor David Miller, Professor of Sociology, University of Bath
Piers Telemacque, NUS Vice President Society and Citizenship, Students Not Suspects
Shakira Martin, NUS Vice President Further Education
Sorana Vieru, NUS Vice President Higher Education
Susuana Amoah, NUS Women’s Officer
Maddy Kirkman, NUS Disabled Students’ Officer
Mostafa Rajaai, NUS International Students’ Officer
Rachel Harger, Defend the Right to Protest
Dr Shahrar Ali, Deputy Leader, Green Party
Asim Qureshi, Researcher Director, CAGE
Moazzam Begg, Outreach Director, CAGE
Cerie Bullivant, CAGE
Alim Islam, Director, Prevent Watch
Shazad Amin, CEO MEND
Kevin Blowe, NETPOL
Hilary Aked, PhD candidate, Social & Policy Sciences, University of Bath
Dr Rick Saull, Queen Mary, University of London, Queen Mary UCU Committee
Dr Sean Wallis, Joint Vice President, UCL UCU, UCU National Executive Council
Bruce Heil, Open University, UCU National Executive Council
Xanthe Whittaker, University of Leicester, UCU National Executive Council
Dr Rhiannon Lockley, Halesowen College, West Midlands’ chair and national women’s standing committee, UCU
Richard McEwan UCU National Executive Council
Dr Carlo Morelli, University of Dundee and UCU National Executive Council
Ioanna Ioannou, University College London, Equality officer UCLUCUC, UCU National Executive Council
Professor Paul Blackledge, UCU Branch Secretary Leeds Beckett University and UCU National Executive Council
Dr Katy Sian, University of York, Lecturer
Dr Samuel Solomon, University of Sussex, Lecturer in English
Dr Lucy Delap, University of Cambridge
Dr Robin Dunford, University of Brighton, Senior Lecturer in Globalisation and War
Dr Charlotte Heath,Kelly, Assistant Professor, PAIS, University of Warwick
Dr Nicholas Cimini, Lecturer, EIS-ULA Executive Committee member, Edinburgh Napier University
Dr Simon Choat, Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations, Kingston University
Dr Nadine El-Enany, Lecturer in Law, Birkbeck College, University of London
Dr Gareth Dale, Senior lecturer in politics, Brunel University
Dr Başak Ertür, Lecturer in Law, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Milly Williamson, Senior Lecturer Film and TV, Department of Social Sciences Media, and Communications, Brunel University
Dr Phil Edwards, Lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University
Dr Filippo Del Lucchese, senior lecturer, Brunel University, London
Lesley Whitworth, SRF, University of Brighton
Dr Francesco Ragazzi, Assistant Professor, Leiden University
Dr Jim Wolfreys, Senior Lecturer in French and European Politics, French Department, King’s College London
Dr Craig Haslop, Lecturer in Media and Public Relations, Brunel University London
Dr Lorenza Monaco, Teaching Fellow, SOAS, University of London
Dr Nisha Kapoor, Lecturer in Sociology, University of York
Dr Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet, Lecturer, University of Manchester
Dr Tina Managhan, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, Oxford Brookes University
Dr Lucy Ford, Oxford Brookes University, Senior Lecturer in International Relations
Dr Roxane Farmanfarmaian, Senior Research Associate and Affiliated lecturer
Dr Feyzi Ismail, Senior Teaching Fellow, SOAS
Dr Helen Dexter, Lecturer in International Politics, The University of Leicester
Garikoitz Gómez Alfaro, PhD Candidate, University of Brighton
Zoë Goodman, Graduate Teaching Assistant, SOAS
Dr. Fahid Qurashi,Lecturer in Criminology, Canterbury Christ Church University
Dr Salman Sayyid, University of Leeds.
Dr Marc Deisenroth, Lecturer, Imperial College London
Ismail Patel, Chair, Friends of Al-Aqsa.
Stephanie Webber, South Thames College, Lecturer
Dr Caroline Ruddell, Brunel University, Lecturer in Film and TV
Dr Thomas MacManus, School of Law, Queen Mary University of London
Amanda Latimer, Kingston University
Dr Emma L Briant, Lecturer at University of Sheffield.
Dr Julian Wells, Principal Lecturer, Economics, Kingston University
Bill Bolloten, Independent education consultant
Dr Sarah Keenan, Lecturer in Law, School Academic Equalities Officer Birkbeck, School of Law
Dr Hannah Miller, Senior Lecturer in Human Rights, Kingston University
Lisa Tilley, Doctoral Fellow and Sessional Teacher, University of Warwick
Dr Shona Hunter, Associate Professor Sociology and Social Policy Governance, University of Leeds
Dr Andy Higginbottom, Associate Professor, UCU Branch Chair, Kingston University
Dr Waqas Tufail, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Leeds Beckett University
Miranda Iossifidis, Goldsmiths and UCL
Simon Pook, Solicitor, Robert Lizar Solicitors
Will McGowan, University of Liverpool
Dr Paul O’Connell, Reader in Law, SOAS, University of London
Dr James Eastwood Graduate Teaching Assistant, GTA Representative, SOAS UCU Executive Committee, SOAS, University of London
Samayya Afzal, Women’s & Campaigns Officer, University of Bradford Students’ Union, NUS National Executive Committee
Aleem Bashir, Union Affairs Officer, University of Bradford Students’ Union
Tasmia Salim, Education Officer, UCLan Students’ Union
Imran Hussain Vice President Education, Queen Mary Students’ Union
Mohammad Ali, Sustainability, Engagement and Operations officer, UCL Students’ Union
Natalie James, Women’s Officer, UCL Students’ Union
Mohamed-Zain Dada, Co-President Activities and Events, SOAS Students’ Union
Hannah Slydel, Co-President Democracy and Education, SOAS Students’ Union
Subira Ismail, Community and Welfare Bradford University
Hassun El Zafar, Education Officer, Sheffield Hallam Students’ Union
Muzzamil Khan, President, Bradford College Students’ Union
Salsabil Sila, Vice President, Marylebone University of Westminster Students’ Union
Ali Milani, President, Union of Brunel Students
Sai Englert, NUS Postgraduate Representative
Barnaby Raine, NUS National Executive Council
Haaris Ahmed, NUS National Executive Council
Shabina Raja, NUS NEC Black Students Campaign
Sayed Alkadiri, Vice President, Middlesex Student’s Union
Muzzamil Khan, President, Bradford College Students’ Union
Sarah Nwafor, NUS Mature Students Representative
Adam Cooper, NUS Black Students’ Committee
Munya Mudarikiri, Vice President Voice, University of Surrey Students’ Union
Mustie Smith, President, University of Surrey Students’ Union
Zara Qadeer, Ethnic Minorities’ Officer, Birmingham Guild of Students
Jaffrina Jahan, Black & Ethnic Minorities’ Association, Birmingham Guild of Students
Huma Khan, Black & Ethnic Minorities’ Association, Birmingham Guild of Students
Maaria Ashraf, Black & Ethnic Minorities’ Association, Birmingham Guild of Students
Aisha L, Black & Ethnic Minorities’ Association, Birmingham Guild of Students
Azfar Shafi, Black & Ethnic Minorities’ Association, Birmingham Guild of Students
Isma Azad, Black & Ethnic Minorities’ Association, Birmingham Guild of Students
Ross Strong, Welfare Officer, University of Birmingham Guild of Students
Marco Brunone, Vice President Guildhall Faculty of Business and Law Officer, London Met
Hajera Begum, Black Students’ Campaign Committee
Aadam Siciid Muuse, Black Students’ Campaign Committee
Ibrahim Abdille, Black Students’ Campaign Committee
Beverly Mettle-Sesay, Black Students’ Campaign Committee
Hussam Hussein, Black Students’ Campaign Committee
Noha Abou El Magd, Black Students’ Campaign Committee
Zarah Sultana, Black Students’ Campaign Committee
Andrea Thomas, Black Students’ Campaign Committee
Lorraine Sebastian-Francois, President Liverpool John Moors Students’ Union
Aysha Al Fekaiki, Community & Welfare Officer, London School of Economics Students’ Union
Mahmoud El Ghannam, Postgraduate Students’ Officer, London School of Economics Students’ Union Mahamid Ahmed NUS National Executive Council Postgraduate Taught Representative
Areeb Ullah, NUS National Executive Council
Mazn Ahmed, Vice President Education and Welfare, Bradford College
Charlie Baker, NUS National Executive Council, Further Education place
Thierno Diallo, President, Dudley College Students’ Union
Zamzam Ibrahim, Vice President, University of Salford Students Union
Tanmay Barhale, Vice President, University of Salford Students’ Union
Ahmed Rafiq, Vice President, University of Salford Students’ Union
Ade Abegunde, Vice President, University of Salford Students Union
Akosua Darko, NUS Wales Black Students’ Officer
Sarah Choudhury, Vice President Welfare, Heriot-Watt University Students’ Union
Rah Singh, Officer, Heriot-Watt University Students’ Union, NUS Disabled Students’ Campaign
Rachel Sherise Williams, Vice President Welfare and Community, Kings’ College London Students’ Union
Myriam Kane, President Lewisham Southwark College
Natalie Poernig, President, Central Students’ Union
Niall Hamilton, Education Officer, Reading University Students’ Union
Jo Swo, Welfare, Community and Diversity Officer, University of East Anglia Students’ Union
Liam McCafferty, Postgraduate Education Officer, University of East Anglia Students’ Union
Yinbo Yu, Activities and Opportunities Officer, University of East Anglia Students’ Union
Chris Jarvis, Campaigns and Democracy Officer, University of East Anglia Students’ Union
Malaka Mohammed, NUS NEC
Ilyas Nagdee, University of Manchester Students’ Union
Carol John, Learning advisor and SOAS UCU Equality and Diversity Rep
Dr Mike Searby, Principal Lecturer in Music and PG Course Leader, Kingston University
Dr. Richard Alexander, Lecturer in Financial Law, SOAS, University of London
Will Podmore, Librarian, British School of Osteopathy
Sean Vernell, UCU City and Islington College
Dr Owen Miller, Lecturer in Korean Studies, SOAS, University of London
Imran Ahmed, City and Islington College, Lecturer in Physics.
Dr Christopher Baker-Beall, Lecturer in Politics and International Relations,Nottingham Trent University.
Robina Qureshi, director positive action in housing
Dr Alessandra Mezzadri, Lecturer, SOAS, London
Dr Christopher Lucas, Senior Lecturer in Arabic Linguistics, SOAS, University of London
Dr Elena Loizidou, Reader in Law and Political Theory, School of Law, Birkbeck College.
Dr. E. Van Waeyenberge, Lecturer in Economics, SOAS, University of London.
Fiorella Picchioni, PhD candidate, SOAS-University of London
Dr Eddie Bruce-Jones, Senior Lecturer, Birkbeck College School of Law
Eveline Lubbers, Undercover Research Group
Dr Lars Peter Laamann, Lecturer, SOAS, University of London
Dr George Walkden, Lecturer in English Linguistics, University of Manchester.
Dr. Manjeet Ramgotra, Department of Politics and International Studies, SOAS, University of London
Dr Marion Hersh, Senior Lecturer, University of Glasgow
Dr. John Wadsworth, Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education, Goldsmiths
Dr Deirdre Osborne, Reader in English Literature and Drama, Goldsmiths
Dr Gary Riley-Jones, Senior Lecturer, Goldsmiths
Ines Mahmoud, Student, Birkbeck, University of London
John Halford, Partner, Bindmans
Jules Carey, Partner, Bindmans
Jamie Pottter, Partner, Bindmans
Rhona Friedman, Solicitor, Bindmans
Martha Spurrier, Doughty St Chambers
Nick Brown, Doughty St Chambers
Jude Bunting, Doughty St Chambers
Russell Fraser (chair, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers)
Adam Straw, Doughty Street Chambers
Ali Naseem Bajwa QC, Garden Court Chambers
Kelly’s Solicitors, Brighton
Dr Nina Power, Senior Lecturer, Roehampton University
Jas Nijjar, PhD student, Brunel University London
Mike Cushman, London School of Economics and Political Science
Dr Les Levidow, Open University
Dr Kerem Nisancioglu, Lecturer in International Relations, SOAS University of London
Dr. Jeffrey A. Sluka, Associate Professor, Massey University.
Dr. Cecily Jones, Associate Fellow, University of Warwick
Rahena Chowdhury, Student, University of Bristol
Tony Greenstein, Unison activist, Brighton
Dr Robin Bunce, Research Associate, Homerton College, University of Cambridge.
Dr Meena Dhanda, Reader in Philosophy, University of Wolverhampton.
Co-chairs of the Oxford University Student Union’s Campaign for Racial Awareness and Equality
Zareen Taj, Press Officer, Muslim Women Association of Edinburgh
Dr. Jenny Slater, Senior Lecturer in Education Studies, Sheffield Hallam University
Dr Cassian Sparkes-Vian, University of the West of England.
Mohammed Bashir Lunat , BME Officer,University of Bradford Union of students
Mandy Brown, ESOL teacher and an Action for ESOL campaigner.
Marika Sherwood, Hon. Sr. Research Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies University of London
Dr Dhanveer Singh Brar – University of Kingston – Lecturer
Dr. Joseph Sweetman, Advanced Research Fellow (HASS), Psychology, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter
Sheila Cullen, Analyst Programmer, University of Brighton
Dr Liam Connell, Senior Lecturer, University of Brighton,
Dr. Narzanin Massoumi, University of Liverpool
Dr Virinder Kalra, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Manchester
Sarah Goddard, International Recruitment Officer (UK), University of Brighton
Dr Nadia Edmond, EdD Programme Leader, School of Education, University of Brighton.
Dr Joanna Gilmore, Lecturer in Law, The University of York
Dr Jelena Timotijevic, University of Brighton
Dr Jennifer Saul, Univeristy of Sheffield
Charlie Cozens, Technical Services Officer, University of Brighton.
Dr Rebecca Graber, School of Applied Social Science, University of Brighton
Dr China Mills, Lecturer, University of Sheffield
Dr Helen Johnson, Senior Leturer in Psychology, University of Brighton
Dr Victoria Redclift, Lecturer in Sociology, University of Surrey.
Cambridge Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Dr Patricia McManus, Senior Lecturer in Media and Literature, Course Leader BA Media and English Literature, University of Brighton.
Dr Kehinde Andrews, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Birmingham City University
Dr Eugene Michail, Senior Lecturer, University of Brighton
Dr Pura Ariza UCU NW Regional Secretary (pc)
Jo Wilding, lecturer in law, University of Brighton and barrister, Garden Court Chambers
Dr Monish Bhatia; Lecturer in Criminology; Abertay University
Paul Baker, Senior Technician, University of Brighton
Dr Christian Høgsbjerg, Teaching Fellow in Caribbean History, UCL Institute of the Americas (personal capacity)
Dr Luisa Martí, Lecturer in Hispanic Linguistics, Queen Mary University of London
Dr. John Moore, Senior Lecturer, Newman University
Dr Mine Kaylan, Senior Lecturer, University of Brighton
Kate Sturrock, Staff Learning & Development Advisor, Queen Mary University of London,
Jody Law, Senior administrator, University of Brighton
Diane Leedham : Independent Advisory Teacher and Consultant for English/Literacy and EAL
Anita Garfoot, Deputy Department Manager, Department of English Language and Literature, UCL (Individual capacity)
Nat Raha, PhD Student, University of Sussex
Paramjit Ahluwalia, barrister, Garden Court Chambers
Amanda Weston, Barrister
Dr. Maïa Pal, Lecturer in International Relations, Oxford Brookes University
Megan Archer, PhD student, University of Brighton
Diana Neslen, on behalf of Stop G4S
Koshka Duff, PhD student, University of Sussex
Richard Haley, on behalf of Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC)
David Andrew, HEA CPD Manager, Senior Tutor, Queen Mary University of London
Dr Matthew Beaumont, Department of English, University College London
Dr Richard lane, Associate researcher, Department of international relations, University of Sussex
Temi Ahmadu, Vice President Education, London South Bank Students’ Union
Dr Sofa Gradin, Teaching Associate, Queen Mary University of London
Thomas Martin, PhD student, University of Sussex
Dr Michael Bailey, Department of Sociology, University of Essex
Dr Bob Jeffrey, Sheffield Hallam University
Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC)
Dr Dan Stowell, Research Fellow, Queen Mary University of London
Dr Peter Fletcher, Keele University
Dr Rowland Curtis, Lecturer in Organization Studies, Queen Mary, University of London
Dr Katy Price, Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature, Queen Mary University
Mark McDonald, Mansfield Chambers
Dr. Luke Cooper, Lecturer in Politics, Anglia Ruskin University
Dr. Navtej K. Purewal, Deputy Director, South Asia Institute, SOAS University of London
Imam Shakeel Begg of Lewisham Islamic Centre
Dr Vicky Margree, University of Brighton, Senior Lecturer
Tank Green PhD Candidate, History, Exeter University
Kate Tunstall, University of Oxford
Aika Bugibayeva, Kingston Hill Officer & Union Affairs, Union of Kingston Students
Dr Chris Allen, Lecturer, University of Birmingham
Valentina Gonzalez Demori, Community Organiser, Brighton Students’ Union
Dr Sarah Lamble, Senior Lecturer, School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Samia Bano, SOAS, University of London
Dr Lisa Palmer, Lecturer in Sociology, Birmingham City University
Dr Piers Robinson, International Politics, University of Manchester
Dr Florian Zollmann, Liverpool Hope University
Dr Vian Bakir, Bangor University
Dr Rizwaan Sabir, Lecturer in Criminology, Liverpool John Moores University
Dr Wajid Mannan, Senior Lecturer, University of Brighton
Dr Mahnaz Marashi, Senior Teaching Fellow, SOAS
Chris Gutkind, Assistant Librarian/Reader Services, SOAS
Dr Stephen Dorril, Journalism and Media, University of Huddersfield
Dr Helen Monk, Criminology Lecturer, Liverpool John Moore’s University
Shane Boyle, Free University of Berlin
Lara Atkin, PhD candidate, Queen Mary, University of London
Dr Nick McGlynn, Research Fellow, University of Brighton
Dr Mark Donnarumma, Associate Lecturer Birkbeck, University of London
Steffan Blayney, PhD student, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Elena Boschi, Lecturer in Visual Communication, Liverpool Hope University
Dr Christina Delistathi, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Eric Olund Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Sheffield
Sophie Jones, Research Fellow, University of Leeds
Munira Jasmine-Jones, Programme Administrator, University of Brighton
Paddy McDaid, Associate Tutor/Phd student, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr. Julia Welland, Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick
Dr Peter Skrandies, Language Co-ordinator, London School of Economics & Political Science
Philipp Kender; PhD candidate, Birkbeck, University of London
Alexandra König, MA Student, Birkbeck School of Law
Elizabeth Martindale, Tutor, Birkbeck College, London University
Sal Campbell, Learning Development Tutor, Birkbeck College, London University
Dr Ahu Tatli Reader in International Human Resource Management, Queen Mary, University of London
Stuart Lawson, PhD student, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Andrew Asibong, Reader in Film and Cultural Studies, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Anastasia Chamberlen, Lecturer in Criminology, School of Law, Birkbeck University of London
Dr John Jordan, Sociology Lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University
Antonia Benfield, Mansfield Chambers
Di Middleton, Criminal Barrister Garden Court Chambers
Brian Richardson, Mansfield Chambers
Jesse Nicholls, Doughty St Chambers
Kirsty Brimelow QC, Barrister
Peter Carter QC, Doughty Street Chambers
Allison Munroe, Garden Court Chambers
Dr Salman Butt, Chief Editor of Islam21c
David Thomas, PhD student and Sessional Lecturer, Birkbeck College, University of London
Dr Will Jackson, Lecturer in Criminology, Liverpool John Moores University
Dr Victoria Canning, Lecturer in Social Policy and Criminology, The Open University
Dr Peter D. Thomas, Brunel University London
Marcus V. A. B. de Matos, Associate Tutor, Birkbeck College, University of London
Ceylan Begüm Yıldız, PhD, Birkbeck College, School of Law
Dr Viviana Meschitti, Post doc Research Fellow, Birkbeck, University of London
Tara Mulqueen, Doctoral Candidate – Birkbeck College, Graduate Teaching Assistant – London School of Economics
Andrew Loveland, Research Manager, Queen Mary University of London
Dr Laura Lammasniemi, Associate Tutor, Birkbeck College
Simon Thorpe, PhD Candidate, University of Warwick
Dr. Rebecca Gumbrell-McCormick, Senior Lecturer, Birkbeck College, University of London
Ozan Kamiloglu Phd Candidate Birkbeck University of London
Alexis Alvarez Nakagawa, PhD Student and Graduate Teaching Assistant, School of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London
Dr Patrizia Di Bello, Senior Lecturer, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Michael Lister, Reader in Politics, Oxford Brookes University
Dr Anna Davin, retired, Birkbeck College, University of London
Martin Cain, Friary Park Preservation Group
Moniza R. Ansari, PhD student, Birkbeck college, School of Law
Dr Mpalive Msiska, Reader , Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Kalpana Wilson, London School of Economics and Political Science
Ed Luker, PhD student, Northumbria University
Dr Miriyam Aouragh, Lecturer, University Westminster
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“The position of Muslims in society has rapidly become one of explicit, demeaning marginalisation. Muslim must begin to set aside their differences, assert the positive message of Islam and deal with a far greater threat to Islam and broader society that is neoconservatism. Now is the time to turn towards the timeless guidance of the Qur’an which straightens our sails in a storm of suppression and provides the spiritual strength to withstand the riptide of extreme secularism.”
A couple of years ago, I noted that the substantive content in the campaign of attacks against Shaykh Haytham al-Haddad designed to smear him as “extremist” were in fact normative Islamic beliefs which cut across the theological spectrum. Shaykh al-Haddad was the proxy for the attack on Islam.
Since then, David Cameron himself has interfered with religion, attacking Islamic beliefs and practices, promoting deformists as the face of Islam, all the while employing doublespeak and urging the Muslim minority to shun the “conspiracy theories” that Islam is under attack. Looking from the colonialist, Eurocentric lens, all manner of denigration has been hurled at Islam, as “mutual tolerance” and “respect” is simultaneously preached to the Muslim community.
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Reparative parenting from non-biological parents for looked-after children? Until society (parliament, the government) addresses forcible family separation on the basis of ‘possible future emotional harm’ I fear this is just another cosmetic measure with no teeth.
As trailed at the start of the year.
The Special Guardianship ( Amendment ) Regulations 2016
These have been introduced by the Government, in response to their consultation about Special Guardianship Orders and the feeling arising from that consultation that some additional factors needed to be included within Special Guardianship reports. The new additions come into effect for any report that was commissioned (either by request by prospective Special Guardians or ordered by a Court) AFTER 29th February 2016.
That does raise the possibility that someone who asks for an SGO assessment on 28th Feb ends up with a slightly different one to a person who asks for it the next day.
The original Special Guardianship Order Regulations 2005 set out all of the matters that need to be included in a Special Guardianship report, and they add up to sixty eight items in all.
The new Regs add
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“It is hard not to see this as anything other than institutional Islamophobia being sanctioned at the highest level, which could have really damaging and deleterious effects. Now is the time to speak up and set the record straight.”
Crosspost: Yahya Birt
Yesterday, news came of a soon-to-be-released Ministry of Justice (MOJ) report, which will argue that Muslim chaplains are part of the problem of radicalisation in UK prisons. Given that the government has trailed the report in the Sunday Times (“Most jail imams teach anti-western values”, 07/02/2016, p.7) and the Mail on Sunday (“Majority of prison imams are ‘teaching anti-western’ values that promote gender segregation, study claims”, 07/02/2016) and played the sectarian card, it is a highly premeditated political intervention. Pointing fingers at chaplains of the Deobandi Sunni persuasion, who are said to make up 140 of 200 Muslim prison chaplains, a senior Whitehall official is quoted as saying that, “It is of great concern that the majority of Muslim chaplains in prisons propagate a fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic scripture which is contrary to British values and human rights. Such imams are unlikely…
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The Self-Invention of Maajid Nawaz: Fact and Fiction in the Life of the Counter-Terror Celebrity ~ Nafeez Ahmed, Max Blumenthal, AlterNet, February 3, 2016.
Maajid Nawaz bases his credibility on a compelling personal story, but how much of it is true?
Maajid Nawaz, a native Briton of Pakistani background, tells a compelling personal story of his odyssey from extremist Islam to enlightenment. He burst onto the scene in 2008, when he began marketing himself as an expert witness on the threat of radical Islamism. Since then he has appeared with CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, HBO’s Bill Maher and National Public Radio’s Terry Gross, and been given the stage at high-profile “thought leader” gatherings hosted by Aspen Ideas and Ted Talks. Nawaz has delivered speeches at the British Liberal Democratic Party’s annual conference and run as a parliamentary candidate, testified before the U.S. Senate, discussed Islam on a panel at Harvard, and even held forth at a seminar at the Tribeca Film Festival.
He founded his own think tank in London, the Quilliam Foundation, which is devoted to “deradicalizing” and received $3.8 million funding from the British government. He has been feted by a wide swath of admirers from left-wing heiress Jemima Khan to George W. Bush. An embarrassing public implosion in Britain has not drifted across the Atlantic to affect his status in the U.S., where he is acclaimed in neoconservative circles as a courageous truth-teller.
Recently, Nawaz has trained his firepower on leftists and liberals, equating them with Islamic extremists if they express opposition to Islamophobia. Branding them the “regressive left,” Nawaz asserts that by refusing to criticize the religion of Islam, progressives are doing nothing less than enabling ISIS.
“It is self-evident that ISIS have got something to do with Islam,” Nawaz told an interviewer from Australia’s 7 News. “When ISIS throws gays off the top of buildings, they are using scripture. In fact there are traditions ascribed to the prophet where it says that is exactly the punishment that should be given to gays. I’m not saying that is Islam, I am saying that is a view of Islam justified by scripture.” (Nawaz refused multiple requests to comment for this article.)
Nawaz’s authority, authenticity and appeal are rooted in the captivating details of his dramatic conversion. It is a story he told in his 2012 autobiography, Radical: My Journey from Islamist Extremism to a Democratic Awakening, which marked his emergence onto the public stage in the United States after several years of prominence in the UK.
Nawaz’s memoirs make riveting reading, and his critique of the perils of Islamist authoritarianism appears eminently sensible. Particularly after the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, the issues he raises of homegrown radicalization and the segregation of Muslim citizens in some Western societies are pertinent. His story revolves around his membership in the London branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), a global radical Islamist movement operational in some 50 countries. After joining the cult-like group in the mid-1990s, Nawaz rose through its ranks for over a decade. His extremist activities led to his imprisonment in Egypt under the regime of Hosni Mubarak, from December 2001 to March 2006. He has claimed this was a turning point that led him to fundamentally reassess what he called the “totalitarian” ideology of Islamism.
Nawaz’s fascinating autobiography is the basis of his identity as the pop idol of counter-terrorism. His credibility rests on his personal story. It is the foundation of his trustworthiness. So we spoke with more than a dozen people intimately familiar with the crucial facets of Maajid Nawaz’s life. They told us that many of his most important claims about his transformative journey are dubious. These accounts cross the ideological spectrum, from old friends of Nawaz who were never members of HT to members of his immediate family, from those who spent time in prison with him to activists who knew him in his militant Islamist phase. (As his public profile in the U.S. grows, Nawaz’s story is beginning to receive greater scrutiny in the media; some elements of his personal history were the subject of a recent article by Nathan Lean.)
Former associates of Nawaz describe him as an unabashed fanatic during his long stint inside HT, just as he painted himself. They claim, however, that his fanaticism continued well after he claimed to have rejected Islamism in an Egyptian prison, literally days before resigning from HT. These associates insist that his personal life story in which he blames his family for extremism and which he has retailed as intrinsic to his account is largely fabricated. These close sources state that after his release from prison and return to England, Nawaz neglected his wife and young son, whom he had not seen for four years, though not for the reasons he offered in his tell-all book. While Nawaz claimed to have separated from his wife over her refusal to disengage from Islamic radicalism, several sources, including a former cellmate from his time in prison in Egypt, corroborate that he continued to promote HT at precisely the same period he claims his wife’s ideology was suffocating him. What’s more, these sources attributed his separation to an affair they said he had with a fellow student, whom he later hired to work at the Quilliam Foundation.
During a personal spat with his brother, Kaashif, Nawaz threatened to turn him over to British security services as a dangerous Islamic extremist. Kaashif told us that Nawaz falsely painted him in his autobiography as a would-be suicide bomber, imperiling his security clearance while he was employed at a technology firm. Nawaz’s vindictive streak, which was on display when he lobbied the British Home Office to blacklist several mainstream Muslim organizations, has intimidated many of his former colleagues and estranged family members. For this reason, many of them insisted on anonymity when speaking to us.
Our sources, who include members of Nawaz’s immediate family, insist that many of the most spectacular episodes of Nawaz’s autobiography—his confrontations with neo-Nazi racists; his firsthand account of what he presented as Britain’s first HT murder; his ideological transformation from Islamist to liberal; and his portrayal of his family—are filled with half-truths, exaggerations and falsehoods. These claims raise a whole set of issues beyond the confines of the current ideological debate: the manipulation of Islamist extremism as a marketing tool and the susceptibility of an array of influential figures across the political spectrum to charming, devious and shape-shifting self-promoters.
The Suicide Bomb Threat Fantasy
Nawaz’s story of his radicalization begins during his adolescence and forms the opening of his autobiography, Radical. As the alienated son of an educated immigrant family growing up in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, he recalled racist gangs, including the notorious neo-Nazi group Combat 18 marauding through town, attacking him and his friends. In search of an identity, he became a streetwise rebel heavily influenced by the hip-hop culture from the South Bronx.
But a childhood friend of Nawaz who grew up in the same neighborhood supplied a different account. “There was no neo-Nazi right-wing movement that was so out in the open in Southend,” he recalled. “It was a great place to live and we all enjoyed it there. You would come across some racism, but not of the Islamophobic kind because no one would know what that was back in the ’90s. The whole concept of being anti-Muslim wasn’t present; it was about being anti-foreign.”
Nawaz grew up in a stately home now valued at close to $1.5 million, but according to the childhood friend, his family was forced to sell the house after their financial situation took a turn for the worse.
The home where Maajid Nawaz was raised in Southend-on-Sea, Essex.
By Nawaz’s own account, he lived “a polarized childhood.” He writes that his father went away to work for the Oasis Oil Company in Libya for months at a time, leaving him under the watch of his mother and her “more liberal outlook.” He describes his mother as “fiercely independent and free spirited, always the first to dance at weddings and last to sit down.”
According to Nawaz’s childhood friend, his parents had a rancorous divorce, followed by his father’s remarriage. Nawaz’s mother became involved with a non-Muslim man, the friend recalled, causing a stir in the local Muslim community. He said she resented the spouses of both Nawaz and his older brother for their outward displays of religiosity, deepening the tension in the family.
“There was a lot that went wrong there,” the friend said. “What happened with his parents and the effect it had on the community also helped shape him.” He emphasized that some of the factors that led to Nawaz’s radicalization were not political at all, but had their roots in his personal life, and which he has yet to publicly acknowledge.
Nawaz writes in Radical that he came of age during a period of heightened political awareness in the British Muslim community. The war in Bosnia spurred a wave of public talks at mosques and debates at community centers in East London. As young Muslims flocked to mosques out of concern for fellow Muslims in Bosnia, many found themselves immersed in a religious atmosphere for the first time. His former friend described Nawaz as growing interested in politically minded Islam, but not the hardcore Islamism Nawaz described. At around age 15, Nawaz was following the lead of his older brother, Kaashif, who was growing politically active and religiously involved at the time.
In Radical, Nawaz credits Kaashif with recruiting him into the Islamist fold, referring to him throughout the book as “Osman.” Determined to set the record straight, Kaashif Nawaz agreed to speak to us in order to give his version about the truth of his brother’s account.
Early on in his autobiography, Nawaz relates a story that supposedly explained how Kaashif demonstrated to him the power of Islamism. In Nawaz’s telling, Kaashif intimidated a gang of white racists in Essex by threatening to detonate a bomb he had in his rucksack. The gang had surrounded them, but instead of attacking, a gang leader named Mickey inexplicably fled the scene.
“Osman looked at me with a level of confidence in his eyes,” Nawaz wrote of his older brother, “‘I told him we’re Muslims and we don’t fear death. We’re like those Palestinian terrorists he sees on the television blowing up planes. We’re suicide bombers. We’ve been taught how to make bombs and I’ve got one in my rucksack. If you even try to make a move, I’ll set mine off. Trust me, I don’t give a shit. If we have to take ourselves out to take you out, then that’s what we will do.’”
According to Nawaz, his brother’s “bluff played on Mickey’s racism.” Claiming the gang leader “knew his Combat 18 literature,” Nawaz wrote that Combat 18 “depicted Muslims as terrorists, and suggested that we were all murderers given half the chance. So when Osman said he had a bomb in his rucksack, and that we had links to suicide bombers, it confirmed every prejudice that Mickey came to believe about us.”
The gang was so stricken with fear that they stood down, revealing to Nawaz the power of self-sacrificial Islamist violence.
But according to Kaashif Nawaz, the entire melodramatic episode was in fact a fantasy contrived by his younger brother’s exceptionally active imagination. Kaashif explained that the dispute with the white gang occurred because Maajid’s best friend had been “messing around” with Mickey’s girlfriend. Kaashif resolved the issue by convincing Mickey to find the culprit elsewhere: “I asked Mickey to leave my brother alone and gave him the green light to do what he wants to his friend.”
A cousin of Nawaz was also befuddled by Nawaz’s account. “This whole story is imaginary,” the cousin told us. “It didn’t happen. Kaashif didn’t even go around with a rucksack.” According to these two witnesses, there was not only no bomb, but no backpack.
The story contains obvious clues as to its fabrication. The idea of undertaking a terrorist attack by exploding a “rucksack bomb” only entered public consciousness after the London bombings of July 7, 2005, when four British Muslims detonated explosives concealed in rucksacks. A decade earlier, such a notion was simply unheard of.
The cultural indicators of the time are also off-kilter in Nawaz’s story. To anyone familiar with the cultural landscape of mid-1990s England, it would seem absurd for a gang of white racists to package their racism toward Asians in explicitly Islamophobic terms. English racism of the time was a strictly ethnic affair, focused on “Pakis,” “Arabs” and “niggers” and undergirded by virulent anti-Semitism. It took nearly a decade for this particular bigotry to take a religious turn.
As Nawaz’s former childhood friend told us, “I don’t think that anyone who would have attacked them at that time, like a neo-Nazi, would have known what a suicide bomber was. That was way ahead of its time, so kudos to them if they could have understood something like that back then.”
By other eyewitness accounts, Nawaz had exaggerated, or even fabricated, the story of his brother’s imaginary rucksack bomb to explain the incident that inspired his descent into Islamist extremism. “Now, here, with a defeated and retreating enemy, I finally understood what my brother had been talking about,” Nawaz wrote. “Islamism, I realized, could give me the respect that I’d craved since primary school. Here today, outnumbered, I stood my ground with Osman, and we won because we invoked Allah.”
Spinning a Gang Stabbing into ‘HT Murder’
At age 16, Nawaz said he became acquainted with a charismatic organizer for the extremist Islamist movement known as Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), or the Party of Liberation. Founded in 1953 in Jerusalem by Sheikh Taqqiuddin al-Nabhani, a Palestinian Muslim cleric, the movement sought to establish a global Islamic state or caliphate, based on its rigid interpretation of Islamic law. HT leadership emphasized political subversion over violent jihad, intending to organize military coups in Muslim majority nations. For an alienated and bullied British Muslim youth like Nawaz, the group offered an easily accessible community. But few of his peers took it as seriously as he did, as several of his former HT colleagues told us.
“HT was kind of a joke, kind of a laugh,” a former movement member and friend of Nawaz said. “You go in and listen to the fiery rhetoric, then have a little munch on kebab afterward with ‘the brothers.’ It’s what you do when you’re young. But for [Nawaz], it was his life. It was everything to him, it was his whole existence.”
According to this source, who like many others, said he feared retaliation if his identity was revealed, Nawaz was determined from the beginning to win leadership of HT’s London chapter: “He can’t ever accept number two; he has to always be number one. He would have been really successful in a real job, if he had ever held one.”
During the mid-’90s, while studying at Newham College of Further Education, Nawaz spread the gospel of HT alongside his friend Ed Husain. Husain was a bit older than Nawaz, more seasoned as an organizer, and unlike Nawaz, came to political Islam with a firmer understanding of traditional Islamic scripture thanks to his upbringing in a Sufi family. He would remain a significant influence on Nawaz in the years after their break from the movement.
In his autobiography, Nawaz boasted that he and Husain mounted a lightning takeover of the Student Union at Newham, outplaying their more pious, culturally backward Salafi opponents with his “B-boy attitude” and the group’s superior political savvy. He immediately turned the union into a front for HT, he claimed, funding the extremist organization under legitimate cover.
“Such takeovers were happening across the UK,” Nawaz wrote. “Islamism was firmly on the rise.”
But according to a former classmate who was active in the Newham College Islamic Society (ISOC), a mainstream club for Muslim students, this story is mostly fiction. “Nawaz promotes himself as a grand master of jihad, but really he had no traction. They [Nawaz and HT] used to resort to paying Muslims to vote for them… They were famous for going around London putting bright orange stickers on traffic lights, that was about it. They were a nuisance, nothing more than that.”
In his autobiography, Nawaz characterized his influence at Newham as strong enough to generate the atmosphere that led to what he and Husain called “the first Islamist murder in Britain.”
The notorious incident in 1995 at Newham College in East London was a defining moment for Nawaz and Husain. It was also a startling experience for Britain, received extensive press coverage, and for the first time put HT on the map as a threat to British security. According to several sources who knew Nawaz well at the time and one who was a direct actor in the events, Nawaz invented or distorted large portions of his story.
Nawaz claimed in his book that he and his fellow HT-affiliated classmates exacerbated tensions between Nigerian students and the mostly South Asian Muslim student population. He painted a picture of an intensifying atmosphere of intimidation in which HT ideologues rampaged across the campus, distributed inflammatory literature, held impromptu speeches in the cafeteria and demanded that women wear hijab, or headscarfs. At the same time, HT encouraged the Muslim students to band together and fight back against the Nigerian student gangs who had been bullying them.
According to Nawaz’s account, “a lanky black guy” and Islamic “jihadist” named Saeed Nur mysteriously turned up at Newham College one day brandishing a knife, offering to help “defend” the Muslim students from the Nigerians. Nawaz claimed Nur’s presence played a major role in provoking the African students to clash with the Muslims. Tensions exploded, Nawaz wrote, when a confrontation in the student common room around a table tennis match resulted in Nigerian student leader Ayatonde Obanubi threatening a Muslim student with a knife, though no physical harm was done.
Nawaz wrote that he organized a “spontaneous rally” of Muslim students in the college’s courtyard the following day to protest Obanubi’s intimidation. After marching around shouting “Allah hu Akbar!” Nawaz claimed he called on the Muslim students to stage congregational prayers to menace onlookers.
“And then he arrived,” Nawaz wrote, referring to the knife-wielding Nur. “I’m not sure who had called [Nur], he’d offered his number to everyone, but he was aware of the incident in the common room and his eyes were bloodshot red.”
Nawaz claimed Obanubi suddenly pulled out two knives and attacked Nur, who stabbed Obanubi in the chest, killing him. According to Nawaz, he was standing right behind Nur and momentarily unsheathed his own knife before tucking it away. He claimed to have watched impassively as Obanubi died. In his narrative, Nawaz was charismatic enough to help inspire the climate of violence but was not involved in the crime either directly or indirectly.
However, a co-defendant accused of the murder but who was ultimately acquitted (a close friend with Nawaz at the time, though never a member of HT) tells a different story. He claims Nawaz’s story is untrue.
According to the source, Nawaz had known in advance that a fight was going to take place at the college.
“The clash that led to the killing had nothing to do with Islamism or extremism. It was a stupid disagreement over table tennis,” the co-defendant told us. “The kid who was killed was a member of a well-known Nigerian gang called the Network Boys. They used to go around hassling and bullying Asian kids. The table tennis incident where Network gang members clashed with some Asian kids happened over a week before the actual killing.”
Not only did Nawaz know the fight was going to happen, the co-defendant insisted Nawaz and his erstwhile HT associate, Husain, had colluded to provoke it. According to the co-defendant, Husain telephoned Nur the morning of the day Obanubi was killed, and then phoned Nawaz.
“Maajid [Nawaz] is on the phone, then tells me that something’s going to happen, there’s going to be a fight,” the co-defendant recalled. “So we leave together to go to the college. Maajid asks me if I’ve got my knife. I don’t have it, but he tells me he’s got his.”
The source described Nawaz’s claim to have organized a rally at the college to intimidate non-Muslim students as a straightforward lie.
“There was no rally before the killing,” Nawaz’s former friend stated flatly. “Maajid didn’t stage any sort of demonstration. That’s complete bullshit. He was with me that morning. Neither me nor Maajid, who were standing together, were right at the front of the scene, so we didn’t really see exactly what had happened.”
In this version, Nawaz’s story was invented long after the fact to burnish his former Islamist credentials while concealing his actual role in the events that culminated in Obanubi’s death.
“Maajid knew more about the whole thing than he’s let on,” claimed the former co-defendant. “Saeed Nur came down on campus because he got a call from Ed Husain from the Student Union. And it was Ed Husain that called up Maajid [Nawaz] to come to the college. That’s how Maajid knew something was going to happen. He and Husain had called Saeed down in the first place, and we all knew that Saeed and his gang carried knives.”
Although Nawaz pins the blame for Nur’s actions on HT, Nur in fact was never a member of the group, and according to the co-defendant, Nur had proudly taken responsibility for the killing on behalf of another gang from Brixton, a band of common ruffians known as the South London Posse.
Several former classmates of Nawaz with firsthand knowledge whom we interviewed confirmed that Nur was not even affiliated with that gang, but had boastfully used the murder as a sort of trophy to generate street cred. One ex-classmate told us he considered Nur to be “mentally ill.”
We asked the former co-defendant in the Obanubi case why he thought Maajid Nawaz would lie about the rally.
“Me and Maajid were like the best of friends,” he explained. “We used to hang out with each other all the time. The problem with Maajid is he was always trying to be the big man, the leader. He was so good at lying because he used to mix his lies with partial truths. I remember, Maajid used to like telling everyone that he was from the ghetto, from the street. But he wasn’t. I’m from the street. I know what it’s like. Maajid grew up in a quiet, middle-class suburb in Southend. So when he came east, he had to tell loads of stories to fit in and make out he was a gangster.”
Another source who was close to the situation and worked near Newham College corroborated this account. “After the incident, I remember three of the guys that did it were people I knew,” he told us. “They hid out at my shop and told me the full details… I was shocked because none of them regretted it. They just matter-of-factly told me that he deserved what he got. These people had nothing to do with HT. It was all about gang politics, and religion gave them a convenient excuse—they wanted to prove their balls, and used to go around claiming they were with the South London Posse. But the South London boys made clear these kids had nothing to do with them either.”
In a blog post in September 2007, Nawaz himself conceded that, “it was a gang murder, in which HT played no direct part. However, it was primarily us HT activists that provided that gang culture with a ‘Muslim’ identity…. Such an atmosphere was undoubtedly created by us HT activists.” He described himself as “the HT activist that invited Saeed Nur on campus.”
After the murder, Nawaz failed to demonstrate regret for his relationship with Saeed Nur, according to the former co-defendant. He recalled an instance in which Nawaz demanded credit for the murder. “Maajid used to not just brag about it, but took direct responsibility for the killing. I remember once when we were walking around Southend, we got into a tiff with some black guy, and then Maajid told him, ‘You think you’re a bad man? You heard about what happened in East Ham? I did that! We were the ones that fucked that guy up. So trust me, you ain’t bad.’”
As a co-defendant in the trial, the source had direct access to Nawaz’s statements to the police about Obanubi’s murder. Those police statements, the source said, contradict the account in Nawaz’s book.
“I saw the statements that Maajid gave to the police, because as a co-defendant obviously my lawyers had access to this material and it was relevant to my defense,” the co-defendant said. “Despite all his boasting and bragging about his role in orchestrating the murder, his police statements minimized his knowledge about the incident, and claimed he didn’t know people at the scene. It was all lies. I know, because I’m one of the people Maajid pretended to have never known. After I was arrested, Maajid stayed away from me, and I lost contact with him.”
The Crown Prosecution Service, which conducts criminal prosecutions in England and Wales, has declined to release the relevant police statements for the public record.
The story that HT’s ideology inspired the killing of Obanubi entered mainstream British consciousness in 2007 through the publication of Ed Husain’s autobiography, The Islamist: Why I Joined Radical Islam in Britain, What I Saw Inside and Why I Left. It detailed his indoctrination into HT’s extremist fold and the deprogramming that returned him to traditional Islam, and won critical plaudits and wide readership. To firm up his account of Obanubi’s murder, Husain drew heavily on input from his friend, Nawaz.
When Nawaz released his own autobiography five years later, closely modeling his story after Husain’s, he revived the narrative of the “Islamist murder” and reinforced the significance of his former life as an Islamic extremist. In the years that followed, Nawaz retold his version of the events in the Daily Mail and the New York Times, where he claimed his “self-appointed bodyguard stabbed to death a non-Muslim student on campus, to cries of ‘Allahu akbar!'” Nawaz furnished the episode as proof of his special insight into the radicalization of the infamous ISIS executioner, popularly known as Jihadi John, a British Arab killed by a drone strike in Syria.
Following his time at Newham College, from which Nawaz said he was expelled after Obanubi’s killing, he led an HT study cell out of his apartment in East London. One of his former students, who quit HT after about a year, described sessions with Nawaz as “very secretive, like living in Stalin’s Russia.”
Like other entry-level members of HT, Nawaz’s students pored over a tract titled Systems of Islam. The book’s author, HT founder Taqiuddin an-Nabhani, presented ideological conflict as the central path to societal transformation and emphasized the complete incompatibility of secular Western and Islamic thought.
“Maajid was very good at articulating political Islam,” his former childhood friend remembered. “He was charismatic and could explain himself really well. But even then, you could see that with all the attention he was getting, he was enjoying it too much. He just enjoyed people looking up to him.”
Using his little apartment in East London as a base, Nawaz struck out for Pakistan and Denmark to establish new cell groups. In 2001, during a study year in Egypt as an Arabic student at London’s School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS), security forces of President Hosni Mubarak arrested Nawaz and several other HT members. For five years, Nawaz languished in Cairo’s Mazrah Tora prison alongside a motley band of Islamic radicals and political dissidents.
The saga of Nawaz’s imprisonment forms the heart of his inspiring coming-out story. But like many other chapters he has written about his life, this one is filled with apparent distortions and is challenged by claims from former close associates who describe his account as essentially false.
According to Nawaz, his years of detention until his release in 2006 opened his eyes to the horrors of Islamist ideology. Since then, he has pointed to a shifting number of reasons for his transformation. In a 2015 interview with NPR’s Terry Gross, he credited it to reading George Orwell’s Animal Farm. “I began to join the dots and think, my God, if these guys that I’m here with ever came to power, they would be the Islamist equivalent of Animal Farm,” he explained. In a 2012 interview with the Quilliam Foundation, Nawaz claimed it was Amnesty International’s campaigning for his release as a prisoner of conscience that “enabled me to be emotionally prepared to question my deeply held prejudices.”
In his autobiography, Nawaz attributed his deprogramming to debates and study with his cellmates. “For me, with its rich mix of prisoners, from the assassins of [former Egyptian president Anwar] Sadat all the way through to the liberals and even homosexuals, Mazrah Tora became a political and social education par excellence,” he wrote. “The studies, conversations and experiences I gained in Mazrah Tora, over months and years, were crucial in overcoming my dogmatic allegiance to the Islamist ideology.
But according to former associates familiar with Nawaz before, during and after his prison experience, his account conceals crucial facts and lays out a false chronology of his deradicalization.
Ian Malcolm Nisbet was one of the Britons arrested and detained with Nawaz in Egypt. Born a Christian, he eventually converted to Islam, and his desire to read Islamic texts firsthand led him to take up a course in Arabic in Egypt, he said. Like Nawaz, Nisbet was also adopted as an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience. He told us in an interview that much of Nawaz’s narrative about the circumstances of his prison “conversion” is untrue.
“Once we were moved out of the torture cells and into the normal prison, we spent almost all of our free time together,” Nisbet said. “Other prisoners were members of various jihadist groups, disgraced businessmen or politicians, and Muslim Brotherhood activists. Maajid was exactly the opposite of what he’d described in his book. Rather than displaying doubts and questioning Islamist doctrines, Maajid was at the forefront of trying to convert everyone to HT ideology.”
Yasser Nabi, Maajid’s first cousin, who had traveled to Egypt regularly to visit him in prison, corroborated Nisbet’s account. Nabi had studied with HT early on along with Nawaz, but never became a member of the group. He told us that Nawaz spoke frequently, and proudly, during the visits about his efforts to convince his fellow inmates of HT’s position.
“He [Maajid] said he wanted to go and study under an HT scholar in Palestine after his release. No sign at all of any doubts about HT,” Nabi told us.
“To be honest, Maajid was quite antagonistic,” said Nisbet. “He had a burning need to always be right. He was often so aggressive in arguing with other prisoners in support of HT that they would usually beg me to try and rein him in.”
Nisbet said Nawaz showed no signs of rejecting HT. Nor could he recall any indications that Nawaz intended to leave the organization.
“I remember even on the plane back from Egypt, we were all talking about how our experience in prison had reinforced our conviction and dedication to the party,” Nisbet said.
Nabi confirmed Nisbet’s account. “I remember during one visit in the last year Maajid was in prison, he told me he believed that Shar’iah rulings on slave girls could be applied in the West to have sexual relations with non-Muslim women outside of marriage. He quoted Egyptian jihadists to justify this idea, and he even made out that this was what he intended to do once he got back to the UK.”
Recruited as an Informant
As soon as Nawaz and his fellow former prisoners arrived at Heathrow on their return from Egypt in early 2006, Nisbet said they were quickly spirited away for interrogation. “When we came into Heathrow we were met by Special Branch police officers,” he recalled. “We were interviewed separately about our Islamic views and each of us was asked whether we would become informants in the local mosques. We were asked whether Special Branch could come and visit us in our homes to continue the discussion. Only Maajid agreed to this, as he says he could not think of a quick response to get rid of them.”
If Nisbet’s account is correct, no sooner had Nawaz landed on British soil after his detention in Egypt than he volunteered to become an informant for Metropolitan Police’s Special Branch. (This is a unit of the British police that oversaw national security related matters, and later merged with the Anti-Terrorist Branch to form the Counter Terrorism Command.)
Another former HT member who was close to Nawaz at the time, who now also rejects the movement’s ideology, told us Nawaz was indeed a police informant, helping the Metropolitan Police identify potentially troublesome HT members at political protests and other public gatherings.
In response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act, the Metropolitan Police refused to confirm or deny the matter, on the following grounds:
“To confirm or deny whether we hold any information, would allow interested parties to gain an upper hand and awareness of policing decisions used to safeguard national security. As you may be aware, disclosure under FOIA is a release to the public at large. Therefore, to confirm or deny that we hold any information concerning meetings between Special Branch officers and Maajid Nawaz could potentially be misused proving detrimental to national security.”
Back to the Movement
Nawaz claims in his book that he met Ed Husain for the first time since his imprisonment in Egypt after announcing his rejection of HT at his university. The encounter occurred, he wrote, “That year, before graduation… When I left HT, I also left my friends behind…. Just at the time when all my HT friends were viciously turning on me—Traitor! Sell-out! Agent!”
In a subsequent interview with the Austrian newspaper, Die Press, Nawaz stated, “During the time of graduation, I decided to leave Hizb ut-Tahrir; I was 29 years old and it was 2006.”
Nawaz indeed graduated from SOAS with his BA in Arabic and law in 2007. However, he announced his resignation from HT several months later in May 2007.
In fact, Nawaz had redoubled his commitment to HT as soon as he returned from Egypt, advancing the organization with renewed fervor, according to multiple former associates.
“On his return,” Husain wrote of Nawaz, “the Hizb [HT] promoted him at events up and down Britain and gladly fielded him for media interviews.”
Far from displaying doubts about HT or playing a low profile, as might be expected if he had rejected HT, after his return to England Nawaz publicly and repeatedly declared that his imprisonment had hardened his conviction of the significance of HT’s ideology and mission.
As Husain has acknowledged, instead of retreating from HT, Nawaz voluntarily increased his activities on behalf of the group. This led him to join HT’s national executive committee. Nawaz gladly accepted his new authority within the group and threw himself into promoting HT’s vision of an Islamic state.
That Nawaz’s prison experience increased his Islamist zeal was corroborated by a member of Nawaz’s immediate family who told us that when Nawaz returned to England, despite having been away from his family for nearly five years, he virtually disappeared from the family home.
“He had a wife and small son, but she would complain that he was never at home,” Nawaz’s relative said. “You’d think someone who’d been imprisoned for so long would relish spending time with their family. Not Maajid. He couldn’t wait to throw himself into promoting HT.”
According to Nawaz’s family member—who has never been a member of HT—it was Nawaz himself who had insisted on touring the UK on behalf of the extremist group. This assertion is confirmed by several SOAS students who told us of their encounters with Nawaz when he enrolled at the university in 2006.
“As soon as he got back, Maajid was everywhere doing so-called dawah (propagation) for HT,” one of his former classmates, a liberal Muslim who has always been opposed to HT, told us. “He was doing sermons, trying to convert people, starting discussions with other Muslims. He was doing this constantly until the last minute. Literally just days before he left HT, he had been giving a pro-HT sermon at SOAS.”
Another former classmate of Nawaz’s who belonged to HT but later left the group, told us, “[Nawaz] was energetically involved in calling people to HT’s caliphate after prison; he seemed just as influenced by HT than ever before. Other [HT] members told me clearly after he came out of prison he was more convinced than HT than ever before. I could see it in the way he was preaching.”
In April 2006, Nawaz told Sarah Montague on BBC’s Hardtalk that his detention in Egypt had “convinced [him] even more… that there is a need to establish this caliphate as soon as possible.”
In October 2006, Nawaz delivered a fiery sermon at the annual al-Quds rally, a global, Islamic-oriented demonstration of solidarity with Palestinians. He demanded the establishment of an Islamic state on the ashes of Israel: “This state that existed in history, it brought a golden era to Spain, it brought a golden era to Baghdad. This is the Islamic state!”
Three months later, Nawaz appeared at the forefront of an HT rally at the U.S. embassy in London, protesting U.S. military operations in Iraq and Somalia. He delivered a rousing speech demanding an end to “colonial intervention in the Muslim world,” and the establishment of “khilafah” to put an end to Western-backed dictators in the region.
These episodes, however, went unmentioned by Nawaz in his autobiography. Instead, the book’s description claims, “Maajid went into prison preaching to them about the Islamist cause, but the lessons ended up going the other way. He came out of prison four years later completely changed, convinced that his entire belief system had been wrong, and determined to do something about it.”
But these events occurred during the same period he claims he could not stand to spend time in his own home with his wife because of her fervent pro-HT world view. Once again, his former friends and others who remain close to his ex-wife accuse him of playing fast and loose with the facts.
Toward Divorce, and More Distortions
In Radical, Nawaz claims that the antipathy he supposedly developed toward HT was responsible for the growing gulf between him and his wife, Rabia, and that her combination of clinginess and militancy was the cause of their estrangement. “Every time she asked me to spend more time indoors,” he wrote, “I felt suffocated as I tried to remove myself from everything associated with HT and their ideology.”
In a 2013 interview with NPR’s Ted Show host Guy Raz, Nawaz claimed that Rabia was still a hardcore HT cadre when he emerged from prison and that she “felt very let down because she’d waited all those years for her hero, her Islamist-resistance hero to return only to—for him to come and say well, it was all wrong.”
Yet it was Rabia who had perhaps done the most to campaign for Nawaz’s release from Mubarak’s prison. And she did so in explicit violation of HT principles, which expressly prohibit political participation in any pre-existing democratic system.
According to a close friend of Rabia’s who helped her lobby senior Labour politicians, Rabia had been “a force of nature” though she was “really distraught about the whole thing, as you’d expect. But she wouldn’t stop,” the friend explained. “Every day, she would be lobbying politicians, the media, anyone who could help. If anyone should take credit for getting Maajid released, it’s her.”
This description of Rabia contradicts Nawaz’s portrayal of her in his autobiography as an immovably bigoted HT ideologue. After HT effectively washed its hands of Nawaz and his fellow HT members during their detention in Egypt, Rabia relentlessly campaigned to raise awareness of Nawaz’s plight, hoping to pressure the British government into action.
“Despite everything she did for him, Maajid basically left her alone after he was back in the UK,” Rabia’s friend said.
Instead of removing himself from “everything associated with HT and their ideology,” as he claimed, Nawaz distanced himself from his wife—not to separate himself from HT but instead to escalate his work on its behalf.
A Convenient Deradicalization
By May 2007, Nawaz was rising through HT ranks. His close friend Ed Husain had just released his book, The Islamist, which catalogued his experiences inside the movement and described his path back to traditional Islam. The book rose to international bestseller status, garnering Husain a public platform as well as access to influential British counter-terror officials. A former Home Office official told Nafeez Ahmed (co-author of this article), “the draft was written by Ed [Husain] but then ‘peppered’ by government input — not explicitly, but implicitly.”
Just as Nawaz was approaching the upper echelons of HT, he suddenly resigned from the organization. Former friends of both Husain and Nawaz told us Nawaz was captivated by the stunning example of Husain’s success and eager to emulate it.
Theological and scriptural counter-arguments appeared to have played no meaningful role in Nawaz’s decision to leave HT. Besides witnessing Husain’s rise to prominence, the main catalysts appear to have been multiple: the terrifying experience of his imprisonment due to his Islamist activism; the emotional disconnection from his wife Rabia; a growing disillusionment with his identity as an HT member and ex-prisoner; and an apparent new love interest at SOAS in the form of a more senior student.
Nawaz’s decision to become an informant for the Metropolitan Police’s Special Branch upon his arrival from Egypt, described by his former fellow prisoner Ian Nisbet and an ex-HT member, also played an instrumental role in his complex evolution. In his book, Nawaz claims how in May 2006, he began to wonder where he could go next with his HT baggage. But rather than describing an inner ideological or theological crisis behind his decision to renounce HT, he outlines an emotional lack of self-esteem and realization that his path as a senior Islamist activist offered only a dead-end.
One fellow student who was at SOAS while Nawaz was active on campus suggested to us that his failure to generate interest in HT influenced his exodus from the group. “Far from SOAS being a hotbed of radical Islamism, we basically used to laugh the HT guys— including Maajid—out of campus,” he said, echoing the same assessment as Nawaz’s former Newham classmate of the earlier experience there. “HT had no traction whatsoever at [university]. Maybe this skeptical social and intellectual environment is what really caused his conviction in Islamism to buckle.”
As a matter of chronology, it was only after Nawaz returned to his studies at a major London university, surrounded by leading scholars and bright students of the Middle East and Islamic history—and where he was able to recognize more publicly acceptable opportunities to advance his career and personal life through the example of Ed Husain’s success—that he finally began to become “deradicalized.”
However, even though he resigned from HT, he continued to identify with Islamist beliefs in private. According to his first cousin Yasser Nabi, in a meeting a few weeks after his resignation from HT in May, Nawaz said he still respected and believed in HT’s founder, Sheikh Taqiuddin al-Nabhani.
“I remember, Maajid said to me, if Sheikh al-Nabhabi was still alive today, he’d be saying what I’m saying,” Nabi told us. “He continued to justify his position under a veneer of Islamism. For instance, when he was accused by HT members of promoting homosexuality, he used to get angry and make clear he believed homosexuality is a grave sin and should be punished under Islamic laws. This was months after he publicly announced he’d left the organization.”
The Birth of Quilliam
In April 2008, Husain and Nawaz together founded the Quilliam Foundation. Billed as the world’s “first counter-extremism think tank,” Quilliam was named after the English convert William Henry Quilliam, who opened the first mosque in England. Husain, Nawaz and their co-directors marketed themselves as leaders of a new movement for Islamic reform whose insider experiences gave them special powers of de-radicalization. Between 2008 and 2011, Quilliam received the U.S. dollar equivalent of at least $3.8 million in British government funding—about 92 percent of its total operating budget. Nawaz was, in effect, an employee of the British government, reaping a salary of about $140,000 a year.
In the years after the 2005 terrorist attacks of 7/7, in which Islamic extremists carried out a series of suicide bombings across London targeting morning commuters, the narrow focus of former HT ideologues on the threat of nonviolent extremism appealed to the British government.
Among Nawaz’s principal achievements at Quilliam was helping design the Preventing Violent Extremism program, which was popularly known as Prevent. A leaked 2010 briefing paper Quilliam sent to Charles Farr, the director general of the UK Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT), highlighted the most troubling aspects of the Prevent strategy. “The ideology of non-violent Islamists is broadly the same as that of violent Islamists; they disagree only on tactics,” the document read. The paper, which drew heavily on Nawaz and Husain’s theories, urged the British government to reject partnerships with nonviolent organizations and individuals who supposedly shared Islamist ideals.
Muslim community leaders widely objected to Quilliam’s memo. It seemed to them to be a blacklist of nonviolent British Muslim groups and activists that accused them of providing the ideological fuel for violent extremism. Groups named in Quilliam’s blacklist included the Muslim Safety Forum, which coordinated directly with the police on community relations, and the Muslim Welfare House that drove radical cleric Abu Hamza from the Finsbury Park mosque. A Scotland Yard anti-terror group called the Muslim Contact Unit somehow made it into the Quilliam blacklist as well, befuddling British counter-terror officials.
“We believe the Prevent program isn’t working as effectively as it could and want a strategy that is effective and properly focused—that is why we are reviewing it,” a Home Office spokesman told the Guardian at the time.
Rizwaan Sabir, an assistant professor specializing in counter-terrorism and insurgency at Liverpool John Moores University, argues that the blacklist was evidence of Quilliam’s ulterior political agenda. “Quilliam is not there to de-radicalize, they’re there to offer a counter-narrative,” Sabir told us. “That’s why they primarily engage with people in power; they’re there to give legitimacy and justification to government power and practice.”
Nawaz’s account of his divorce from Rabia fit his developing storyline of sacrificing everything to break free from Islamist chains. While he blamed the split on his inability to reconcile his transition to liberalism with her HT membership, one close friend of the family of Nawaz’s ex-wife told us a different story.
According to Rabia’s friend, the main cause of the breakdown in Nawaz’s marriage was an extramarital affair with Fatima Mullick, a fellow student at SOAS, the London-based university where he was continuing to pursue his studies in law and Arabic after his return from imprisonment in Egypt.
A friend of Nawaz during this period of his life echoed this account, describing the two as being deeply romantically involved. Mullick denied the allegation, however, telling us, “The information you have cited is untrue. While I did get to know Maajid and considered him a friend while we both attended SOAS (like many others at university), that was the extent of it. In any case, I now have nothing to do with the man.”
In his book, Nawaz describes Mullick in sensual terms: “Proudly Pakistani, proudly female, her answer to the face veil was to wear her beauty brazenly, her answer to stoning the adulterers was to cite Rumi’s ‘Let the lover be.’ She embraced life in all its splendour where I had come to embrace the afterlife in all its austerity.”
Radical does not acknowledge an affair, but credits Mullick with inspiring Nawaz to leave HT. His book notes that after his divorce from Rabia in 2008, Nawaz fought with his “best friend Fatima over her plans to return to Pakistan.” He wrote, “in utter frustration I found my fist slamming against my bedroom wall… I knew instantly that I had broken the bones in my hand. Fatima began trying to soothe the pain with cold water and ice, and kindly laid me down and put me to sleep.”
Rabia came to believe Nawaz was having an affair with Mullick in 2006, while he was still a member of HT, and informed family members she had discovered email correspondence between the two proving the relationship. Yet Rabia remained loyal to her husband and tried to get his brother and cousins to intervene to help resolve their problems.
At first, her family refused to believe her, and warned her not to spread what they felt was serious slander about Nawaz. Eventually, she showed them the emails. By then, however, it was too late to stage a family intervention.
“We didn’t believe her at first,” one family member said, regretfully. “We should have.”
Nawaz separated from Rabia in 2007, shortly after she accused him of having an affair with Fatima Mullick. Within months of securing his divorce in 2008, according to several family sources, Nawaz openly admitted he and Mullick were engaged.
In response to further queries about these allegations, Mullick said, “I can’t comment on what Maajid has claimed or what his ex-wife believed.”
Breaking Hearts and Influencing People
Following Nawaz’s divorce, a court ruled that he was forbidden contact with his son. To be enforced, “denial of access,” as it is called in Britain, requires a court-issued Contact Order, taking into account the child’s wishes, emotional and educational needs, any risk of harm to the child, and the capacity to meet the child’s needs during contact.
In a Facebook post in April, in response to a London Daily Mail expose of Nawaz’s visit to a strip club, he claimed his loss of access to his son was due to his quixotic battle against Islamism: “The article mentions my son from a previous marriage, the truth is I have been denied contact with him for three years now for very similar reasons. Challenging the Muslim status quo today is mercilessly punishing business.”
But Nawaz’s charge was baseless. The judge in the case was not Muslim, nor has anyone accused English family courts of serving as enforcement mechanisms of a supposed “Muslim status quo.”
A close family member insisted to us that Nawaz’s loss of access to his son was utterly unrelated to the bold stand against Islamism he describes in his book. “He would pick up Ammar [his son] from Rabia’s house, then drop him off at his family home with his brother and sister, before going upstairs and collapsing into bed,” the family member said. “After that he’d literally sleep for most of the day, because he’d not had any sleep the previous night. He used to come to town the night before and spend the whole night clubbing.”
A second family member told us Nawaz refused to pay maintenance support for his ex-wife and son, who live in a small council flat in Harlesden. The boy’s favorite toys were purchased by Nawaz’s brother, Kaashif, said the other member of his family.
In the midst of his family drama, Nawaz hired Mullick at the Quilliam Foundation as Pakistan project manager. She was eventually promoted to the position of executive director of the Quilliam-founded NGO subsidiary, Khudi Pakistan.
During Nawaz’s alleged affair with Fatima Mullick, he grew close to a senior U.S. government official, Farah Pandith, according to a London-based former consultant to the U.S. State Department. Pandith, who previously served as Middle East director of the National Security Council in the George W. Bush administration, was in 2007 appointed senior advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, where she worked on countering extremism in Europe’s Muslim communities.
At this time, Pandith was a key liaison with the U.S. embassy in London, involved in a series of high-level engagements, panels and roundtables, several of which she chaired alongside State Department officials. Pandith was later promoted to the post of U.S. special representative to Muslim communities in June 2009, reporting directly to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The State Department consultant who had worked closely with Pandith in facilitating the embassy’s programs in London claimed she had grown personally close to Nawaz, and the two were often seen together at conferences abroad. Pandith told the consultant that by this point, she had granted Nawaz access to her major contacts in Washington DC and New York, helping to arrange his and Ed Husain’s U.S. speaking tour, and facilitating high-level meetings.
But Nawaz suddenly vacated Pandith’s life, the consultant said: “She’d told me that all of Maajid’s American contacts had come through her. Literally all of them. She’d felt used.” (Farah Pandith did not respond to our requests for comment.)
Among the contacts Nawaz made through Pandith was the Gen Next Foundation, a philanthropic network closely aligned with the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party, which helped set up Quilliam’s American branch. Since 2011, the Quilliam Foundation’s American offices have been physically shared with Gen Next. Gen Next executive members include senior Bush administration officials and Tea Party activists such as Adam Stryker, vice-president of Americans for Prosperity, the fundraising super PAC that functions as the main political arm of the billionaire Koch brothers.
Not His Brother’s Keeper
Nawaz’s biography, Radical, was the centerpiece of his public relations strategy that would introduce him to Americans as the new face of Islamic reform. With the publication of the book in 2012, he zeroed in on retailing the story of his brother’s apparently imaginary rucksack bomb as the turning point of his radicalization.
The story Nawaz has recounted time and again has had a dramatic impact on his brother’s life, according to close family members. A senior IT consultant, Kaashif Nawaz has high-level security clearance and worked as a government contractor. But as a result of Nawaz’s story about Kaashif as Britain’s first aspiring Islamist suicide bomber, his career has suffered.
“Kaashif has been blocked from getting certain types of projects and contracts,” a member of the Nawaz family told us. “To pass clearance, you need to have your name run through a preliminary risk assessment based on cross-checking through open sources and public databases. Once you get through that, you get to the main stage of the security check using confidential databases drawing on sensitive information guarded by intelligence agencies. What’s really silly is that Kaashif isn’t getting through stage one now because he’s been linked with Maajid’s false suicide bombing story.”
Kaashif said his brother’s rucksack bomb tale was motivated by “revenge” for an email he had sent to Maajid, friends and family, blasting Ed Husain for his support of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad in the early stages of the revolt. In the email, Kaashif had pasted a copy of an article in NOW Lebanon by Hussein Ibish, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington DC, attacking Husain—then a U.S. director of Quilliam—and noting his admitted consultancy on behalf of Assad’s secret police.
In a fit of rage, Maajid Nawaz lashed out at his brother, threatening in an email to “destroy” Kaashif if he did not issue an apology for the email. The transcript of the exchange was obtained from Maajid’s cousin, Yasser Nabi, who had received a copy of the conversation from Kaashif in April 2012.
Maajid Nawaz wrote his brother: “It’s very very easy for me to slander you to pieces in my book, thus ruin not just your personal but professional standing… If you think I’m being harsh now, thank your Islamist god that I’m not speaking against you in public, because trust me, if I was half as ignorant and idiotic as you, I could destroy your career in a second. And that’s not a threat, it’s to show you how stupid you’re being by writing such one sided crap… And my megaphone is far louder than your petty ignorant one-sided emails against my work….”
Kaashif Nawaz replied: “I have had nothing to do with HT or their ideology for longer than you. So stop shooting at straw men and threatening me….”
Maajid Nawaz fired back: “In some security circles, unattached Islamists like you (working in secure environments) are considered more of a threat than open HT members. Lucky for you, I actually have a sense of what it means to be a brother, don’t erode that. Instead of throwing one-worded crap at me like ‘binary’ decide what you want to do… At least my anger is directed at you in private and not against you in public. Now either clarify what I’ve asked you in wording I’m happy with (as you are legally and Islamically obliged to do) or face the consequences. Simple.”
Kaashif Nawaz: “What are the consequences?”
Maajid Nawaz: “… You work out the consequences, or you’ll see them for yourself. Decide what you want to do.”
Maajid then attempted to dictate the wording of an apology he wanted Kaashif to write, before warning: “If you slander your brother, it has consequences. And that’s the wording I insist on, or you’ll see what happens.”
Since Maajid Nawaz has released his claims about his brother in his book, the two have broken off contact. Before that, the brothers had been in touch regularly.
Yet in a Facebook post wishing his brother happy birthday in July 2015, Nawaz made the curious claim that his brother and cousins “refuse to see” him because they “all wholeheartedly disagree with my views now.”
Nawaz had, in reality, maintained regular contact with them long after departing from HT and founding Quilliam.
“The rucksack story in Maajid’s book was what broke things off,” a family member closely related to Nawaz told us. “Otherwise Kaashif and Maajid had kept in touch with each other.”
Ideological issues had little, if anything, to do with the fractures that emerged in the Nawaz family in the years since Maajid Nawaz’s departure from HT. Nawaz would, for instance, frequently take his cousins out clubbing and drinking, without causing his more devout brother to cut off contact. Half his family, including his sister, are non-devout Muslims.
“Kaashif is a practicing Muslim, but he didn’t break off with Maajid because of his religious or ideological views, or because Maajid used to drink,” said Nawaz’s relative. “It was just because Maajid was so self-serving he had no problem lying about his brother to sex up his life story.”
In the comments on Nawaz’s Facebook birthday post about his brother, one of Maajid Nawaz’s cousins, Faisal Saleemi, rebuked Nawaz: “The fact is, you are fully aware that our lack of contact with you has little to do with your views per se. And I think I speak for your brother and the other cousin in the photo, when I say this… You may recall at another cousin’s wedding a few years ago, we had a civil and social chat, despite disagreeing with your ideas. And I even got my son to give you salaam—if I had ostracised you because of your views, then why would I have done this? This was shortly before your book was released.”
Saleemi blamed the “contents” of Nawaz’s book as the main trigger for ceasing contact: “It took something major to create the circumstances that led to it. The fact that you are looking to push the idea of you being the victim due to just a difference of opinion, further goes to prove our point!”
Nawaz responded: “Can we at least be honest here and accept that we all joined Hizb ut-Tahrir together?”
But in the same thread, Nawaz’s claim was contradicted by several of his own avowedly secular family members, his cousin Naz Nabi and his sister, Sorraiya Yasmin Nawaz, who posted: “He [Kaashif] was never an actual member of HT (unlike Maajid), simply studied with them and was involved during that period of his life. He has not had anything to do with them for years… He also stopped any involvement before Maajid and encouraged them to do the same.”
“I’m not an attached or ‘unattached Islamist,’” Kaashif Nawaz said.
This statement did not prevent Maajid Nawaz from publicly claiming the opposite. In another Facebook comment, one follower asked Maajid about his brother. “Is he still HuT?” they asked. Nawaz replied, “yes, he’s fully pro-Islamism.”
‘I Was Using Them, They Were Using Me’
By 2010, Nawaz’s Quilliam Foundation was in a state of crisis, bleeding funds and refusing to provide journalists with an annual report that detailed its budget. “There is only one copy and it’s gone missing,” a Quilliam spokesperson told the Guardian at the time.
In September of that year, Quilliam formally announced that Nawaz’s longtime friend and former HT comrade, Ed Husain, would move to the U.S. to join the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington DC as a senior fellow. Nawaz replaced him as executive director. As part of that shift, Husain became a U.S. director of Quilliam’s U.S.-based nonprofit in 2011, which shared an office with the Koch brothers-affiliated Gen Next.
Quilliam’s shift to the U.S. was directly linked with the think-tank losing the confidence of the British government. Despite Quilliam’s continued influence in Whitehall, including on Prime Minister David Cameron’s national security policies, government officials increasingly recognized that Quilliam had no real rapport with the Muslim communities they were supposed to be working with in countering extremism. By mid-2011, Cameron’s government decided to end all funding for Nawaz’s outfit.
According to documents we have acquired (here and here), Nawaz registered a private consulting firm on June 15, 2011 in Britain. Without any apparent irony, the company was named Propagandaworks Limited. But the venture never materialized, and its status is now listed as “dissolved.”
Meanwhile, after being cut off by the British government, Nawaz moved ahead with a strategy to rehabilitate his image and the ailing organization he now led. His plan hinged heavily on promoting his role in supposedly de-radicalizing Tommy Robinson, the longtime firebrand leader of the white supremacist, anti-Muslim English Defense League. Again, there was a massive gulf between the story Nawaz told the public and the apparent reality.
Maajid Nawaz and former English Defense League leader Tommy Robinson, who was taking payments under the table from Nawaz’s Quilliam Foundation.
Nawaz announced Robinson’s supposed departure from right-wing extremism at a heavily publicized October 2013 London press conference. Seated between Robinson and a fellow EDL leader, Kevin Carroll, Nawaz opened by detailing his own de-radicalization, repeating some of the dubious and discredited claims featured in his autobiography: “My own departure from Hizb ut-Tahrir happened when Amnesty International adopted me as a prisoner of conscience.”
He then declared, “I would be a very bad man if I did not extend the chance to [Robinson] that Amnesty extended to me.“
Finally, Nawaz stated in a tone brimming with confidence, “Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll have made it very clear to me: They do not hate Muslims.”
Some of the British press was already skeptical of Nawaz’s operations. The Guardian headline of his press conference with Robinson read: “Tommy Robinson link with Quilliam Foundation raises questions.” Nawaz was described as “smooth and slick,” and the newspaper called his latest move “a high-stakes gamble that has raised serious questions about the motivations of an organisation that has played a particularly controversial role. If the latest accounts—for the financial year up to March 2012—filed by the Quilliam Foundation are anything to go by, the high-profile injection of publicity also comes at a time when it may be facing challenging financial circumstances.”
In the introduction to Quilliam’s 2012-2013 Progress Report, board member Iqbal Wahhab described one of the foundation’s most notable achievement as “convincing the former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson of the hugely negative impact he has had in building hate against Muslims, often violently so.” The report showered praise on his “rehabilitation to a more respectful position of pluralism….”
Yet all along, Robinson was planning to rebrand his anti-Muslim organizing under the banner of a new organization. And this was not even a secret. Professional Islamophobic extremists Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer revealed Robinson’s plans in a blog post, writing at the time, “Tommy is planning to start a new organization that is as free from Quilliam as it is from the EDL, and in that… we wholeheartedly and unhesitatingly support him.”
While conveniently ignoring the obvious warning signs, Quilliam was secretly paying Robinson 2000 pounds a months in a deal arranged so the group could take credit for his supposed deradicalization. In his autobiography published this year, Enemy of the State, Robinson revealed that Quilliam supported him after he was jailed for mortgage fraud, writing that it covered his “wife’s rent and help with basic bills, in return Tommy Robinson would be their poster boy.”
“I was using them, they were using me, but the bottom line from what I witnessed was that nothing truly productive was going to come out of it,” the anti-Muslim ringleader reflected.
Robinson poured contempt on his former patron, Nawaz, describing him as a “government stooge” heading a group “with little influence” on Muslims.
“The evidence of my eyes was that they were an organization that was useful for the government to throw money at,” Robinson said of Quilliam. “It helped the politicians and establishment feel good about themselves and it fed the idea, the illusion, that they were making some kind of difference. I didn’t see it, if they were.”
In 2014, documents disclosed through a Freedom of Information Request revealed that Nawaz unsuccessfully pleaded for government funding from the British Minister for Faith specifically to continue under-the-table payments to Robinson—“a direct contribution,” Nawaz wrote.
Despite his fundraising troubles, Nawaz modeled for a September 2014 Sunday Times fashion spread that cast him as one of “five men at the top of their game.” He sported a colorful ensemble that included Dunhill corduroy trousers (priced at 400 pounds) and a Paul Smith black velvet blazer (675 pounds). “My day can include being in the Newsnight studio or with friends or at Downing Street, so dressing is tricky,” Nawaz was quoted. “My clothes have to be versatile and smart.”
A year later, Nawaz’s pet reclamation project to transform the racist thug Tommy Robinson into a model example of liberal tolerance completely backfired.
The veteran hooligan announced he was the leader of a new anti-Muslim gang called Pegida UK, named after the German anti-Muslim far-right group. The organization continued the EDL’s old crusades against mosque construction and Muslim immigration. Two days after declaring he would organize a mass march across Europe against Islam, Robinson was arrested on assault charges.
By now, Nawaz was mired in damage control—not over the Robinson fiasco, but over yet another bungled attempt to grab headlines.
Sliding Down the Polls
In the runup to the UK’s 2015 General Elections, Nawaz joined the Liberal Democrat Party, which at that time shared power as part of Cameron’s Tory-led coalition government. He was to stand as a prospective parliamentary candidate in the 2015 elections for the North London constituency, Hampstead and Kilburn.
Nawaz’s entry into the LibDems was, however, a last resort. Both a longstanding Labour member of parliament (MP) and a former Conservative minister confirmed to us that Nawaz had first approached their parties with the intention to stand as a parliamentary candidate.
The Labour MP said that Tony Blair initially backed the idea, but it encountered opposition especially from Muslim Labour MPs, who believed the untrustworthy Nawaz would be a “liability” for the party.
According to the former Tory minister, after the Labour Party rebuffed Nawaz he came to the Conservatives, hoping to springboard his political ambition off his connections with David Cameron, who liked his ideas. Senior Tory figures, also mistrusting him, resisted Nawaz’s overture.
Rejected by the two major parties, Nawaz joined the Liberal Democrat Party with the support of former party leader Paddy Ashdown, who had been an advisor to Nawaz’s Quilliam Foundation during its launch phase in 2008.
Nawaz’s campaign for a seat in the Parliament was an unmitigated disaster. Shortly before the election, the Daily Mail, a Tory tabloid, splashed a front-page story showcasing Nawaz’s visit to a strip club in East London, where he cavorted in a private room with a lap dancer, as his “Drunken Night of Temptation.” The paper reported that Nawaz “had been pestering the girl all night,” was “repeatedly trying to make contact,” and “bouncers threatened to throw him out several times.” The club owner, Abdul Malik, was quoted: “He’s always talking about religion on TV and I thought, what a hypocrite.” “He claimed ‘arrogant’ Nawaz acts like a ‘spokesman for Islam’—but visited the club during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.” Photos of Nawaz pawing the lap dancer accompanied the article.
Although Liberal Democrat party leader Nick Clegg, then Deputy Prime Minister, stood by Nawaz, the story was a factor in Nawaz’s spectacular failure at the polls. Of the three candidates, he finished last with a paltry 3,039 votes compared to the 23,977 votes for the victor, newly elected Labour MP Tulip Siddiq, a Muslim feminist, and 22,839 for the Conservative candidate.
But there was more to the trainwreck of Nawaz’s political campaign than the Daily Mail story. After his loss, a senior political official in the Liberal Democrat party accused Nawaz of exploiting his campaign entirely for his personal publicity purposes.
“The problem with Maajid was that he saw the political campaign as a vehicle to promote his credentials as a counter-extremist, rather than as a politician,” the LibDem official said. “He offered very little in the way of anything tangible for British voters. At speech after speech, he’d focus on his personal story as a reformist. And then as the elections neared, Maajid became increasingly distant from the party. He simply didn’t campaign. It was very disappointing.”
The Liberal Democrats invested large sums of money in Nawaz’s campaign in the hopes that he stood a strong chance. But it soon became clear that rather than running a serious campaign for his seat, he was engaged in provocative stunts like posting cartoons of Muhammad on social media. His antics became so problematic that several months before the election, the party pulled the plug on his campaign.
“Months before the elections, we knew he had no chance of winning,” said the veteran Liberal Democrat politician. “So we pulled the money out.”
After the strip club scandal, many LibDem MPs and officials demanded Nawaz to be suspended from the party. Even Nick Clegg was fed up. But it was too late to take his name off the ballot.
According to the LibDem official: “Contrary to public perceptions, Nick privately disliked Maajid. He disagreed with his ideas about counter extremism, tolerating him largely under pressure from Paddy Ashdown, who still holds significant influence in the party. Paddy was the main force responsible for Nawaz joining the party in the first place. After the strip club revelations, Nick told me that if he could have suspended Maajid he would have, especially as he wasn’t really campaigning properly.”
Nawaz blamed the Daily Mail’s expose on “a pre-planned regressive-Muslim campaign.”
“So what could possibly explain all this?” he wrote on his Facebook page. “Followers of my counter-extremism work will be aware that for years liberal Muslim voices like mine have been subjected to sustained personal attack….”
Nawaz defended his hijinks as “sex-positive” feminism, claiming, “My feminism, as intended by me, extends to empowering women to make legal choices, not to judge the legal choices they make.”
Ironically, Nawaz had campaigned on a proposal to impose criminal punishments on women who wear the face veil in public places such as schools, banks and airports. “Legally speaking,” Nawaz wrote, “there is no basis for any exception to be made, but the sad fact is exceptions are being made because we have become too spineless to do anything about it.” (He dedicated the proposed ban to his “Muslim mother.”) Nawaz explained that his strip club adventure was just a “stag night” to celebrate his impending wedding to his new wife, the American artist and writer Rachel Maggart.
Soon after the scandal erupted, Nawaz published a glamorous photo of Maggart on Twitter. He captioned the photo, “Don’t ya wish your wifey. was. hot. like. mine? …. Don’t ya? … Don’t ya?
From One Extreme to Another
More than a few guests at the April 2014 wedding of Maajid Nawaz and Rachel Maggart noticed that something was terribly amiss. According to invitees, the program listed Nawaz’s best man as Ed Husain, his former HT comrade, longtime friend and Quilliam co-founder. But Husain was nowhere to be found when it was his turn to deliver a toast. He had stayed home, leaving many to wonder if he and Nawaz had finally fallen out. (Husain refused our requests to comment for this article.)
Nawaz appeared unfazed, delivering a gracious tribute to one of his newest friends, the anti-Muslim activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Standing before the assembled guests, he toasted Hirsi Ali for introducing him to his new wife.
Like Nawaz, Hirsi Ali based her celebrity and political authority on her tale of transformation from radical Islamist to liberal atheist. And like Nawaz, Hirsi Ali’s story was filled with fabrications and half-truths. After being exposed by a Dutch television network for lying about her childhood, her family and her immigration status while serving as a member of the country’s right-wing government, Hirsi Ali fled to the U.S., where she basked in positive publicity and generous patronage. With his credibility on the wane in the UK, Nawaz seemed determined to follow her example.
Nawaz and Hirsi Ali first met at a 2010 debate hosted by Intelligence Squared, a nationally televised debating forum sponsored by the neoconservative Rosenkranz Foundation. They were on opposite sides of the debate question, “Islam is a religion of peace.” Nawaz was still intent on portraying himself as a liberal Muslim, while Hirsi Ali had called for Islam to be “defeated.” “Once it’s defeated,” she said in 2007, “it can mutate into something peaceful. It’s very difficult to even talk about peace now… There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.”
Her debating partner, Douglas Murray, then-director of the London based Center for Social Cohesion and author of Neoconservatism: Why We Need It, was a right-wing anti-immigrant activist who has fretted that “white British people” are “losing their country” to dark-skinned immigrants. In a more recent column, he lamented “the startling rise in Muslim infants.” He has also invited readers to post demeaning “Irish jokes” on his blog, resulting in “a flood of crass and offensive contributions,” according to the Irish Independent newspaper.
Prior to the debate, audience members were asked to register their opinion of the question. A majority stated their support for the statement that Islam was a religion of peace. By the end of the debate, however, the crowd had shifted decisively in the other direction, with nearly all undecided voters rejecting the statement.
Nawaz appeared overwhelmed by the arguments put forward by Hirsi Ali and Douglas Murray. His attempts to place Islamic scripture in historical and theological context fell on deaf ears while his opponents electrified the crowd with unequivocal arguments casting the whole of Islam as poisoned. The humiliating defeat seemed to have a powerful impact on him.
The debate was pivotal in another way for Nawaz. It was there he met his future wife, Rachel Maggart, a writer and artist from a wealthy family in Knoxville, Tennessee. According to a former friend of Nawaz, Maggart was an ardent fan of Hirsi Ali. As Nawaz antagonized friends and family alike, Maggart would offer crucial support, helping Nawaz develop his latest new identity and regain the sense of mission he had lost back in the UK.
By the start of 2015, Nawaz appeared on British television debating alongside Murray against a British Muslim critic of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. Following the ISIS-inspired terror attacks in Paris later in the year, the two were back on camera together, with Murray complimenting Nawaz’s points throughout a televised panel. Having failed to beat Murray, Nawaz now joined him.
With his political dreams shattered and the British government no longer serving as his source of funding, Nawaz searched for a new source of money. He found it in the U.S., where neoconservative foundations and think tanks treated him like a celebrity. His embarrassing scandals and fundraising imbroglios in London were overlooked in New York and Washington.
As he followed the money, Nawaz drifted further into the reaches of the neoconservative infrastructure. He was hailed by the neoconservative Gatestone Institute, whose senior fellows are a gallery of Islamophobes from John Bolton, George W. Bush’s United Nations ambassador, to Douglas Murray. Gatestone issued a report claiming Nawaz had been subjected to “death threats” in Britain and asserted that these “add to a growing number of cases in which Islamists are using intimidation tactics to restrict the free speech rights of fellow Muslims in Europe.”
The Bradley Foundation, one of the right-wing organizations identified by the Center for American Progress as a top sponsor of America’s burgeoning Islamophobia industry, gave Nawaz’s Quilliam Foundation $75,000. (See a PDF of Bradley’s 2013 990 form.)
Recently, Nawaz joined forces with Sam Harris, the self-styled “new atheist” who has declared, “It is time we admitted that we are not at war with ‘terrorism.’ We are at war with Islam.” An avid supporter of torturing Muslim terror suspects and racially profiling “anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim,” Harris is also a New Age transcendental meditation enthusiast who has suggested that babbling infants might be speaking ancient languages. As Nawaz embraced the fervently anti-Muslim movement of self-proclaimed new atheists, he received a $20,000 donation from Harris to Quilliam in 2014.
In 2015, Harris and Nawaz published Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue, a book framed as a high-minded demonstration of “how two people with very different views can find common ground.” Hirsi Ali offered effusive praise: “We must all read it and follow in [Harris and Nawaz’s] footsteps.”
When Harris and Nawaz took their show on the road, they scrapped any pretense of debate and acted as a tag team. Their most high-profile event occurred last September at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
After opening the discussion by emphasizing the need to “destroy intellectually” what he saw as the troubling tenets of Islam, Harris offered a hypothetical scenario to explain the religion’s “uniquely problematic” tenets. “If I take out a pen and draw a stick figure of Muhammad, it’s not implausible to think that the rest of my life will be this deranged attempt not to be killed by a religious maniac who thinks I have crossed a line there. There’s only one religion on the planet today that is doing that to people, and this is not based on U.S. foreign policy, it’s not based on anything but specific religious ideas.”
Nawaz never challenged Harris. Instead, he unleashed a tirade against non-Muslims who had criticized his partnership with Harris. Tossing back the language of left-wing campus identity politics, Nawaz accused his “non-Muslim, white, middle-class American male” critics of “colonial patronage; a reverse form of racism,” indignantly instructing them to “check their privilege.”
“The day that you have had to dodge neo-Nazi knife attacks on the streets of Essex…is the day you get to talk to me about Islamophobia,” Nawaz declared, portraying the affluent seaside area where he was raised as a hardscrabble ghetto besieged by violent thugs. Then he pointed to Hirsi Ali, now a Belfer Center fellow, seated in the front row of the audience, to vindicate her of any and all charges of Islamophobia. Next, to rebut detractors of Harris, Nawaz offered an anecdote about an encounter earlier that day in the gym:
“I’m in the middle of training and Sam pulls his headphones out and says, ‘You can tell them that I’m listening to [Pakistani Sufi devotional singer] Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan…’ The reason I mention that is, here’s Sam Harris, who’s often accused of anti-Muslim bigotry… listening to Sufi music. That’s because he understands the difference between scrutinizing an idea and harboring anti-Muslim bigotry as a person. And if he did not understand that idea he would not be listening to one of the great Sufi mystics and musicians that Pakistan ever had.”
In his recent interview with Australia’s News 7, Nawaz compared his battles against Islam—not extreme Islamism, not radical Islam, not jihadism, but Islam—to noble fights against the scourges of racism and sexism. “You don’t need to be black to challenge racism, you don’t need to be gay to challenge homophobia,” he said, “and you don’t need to be a Muslim to challenge Islam.”
The metamorphosis of Maajid Nawaz continues to unfold. Whatever his latest identity, he demands that his ever-changing story be taken at face value. He presents himself as one of the world’s leading experts in understanding the radicalization of Muslims in Western societies because of his own hard-wrought experience. But upon closer and more objective examination, Nawaz’s career appears to be more a case study in public relations. His family and former friends are left to wonder who he will be next, and how he will sell it.
“Muslims love Jesus (peace be upon him) to the point that they want no harm to come upon him, that he does not suffer or is not killed. Yet, Christians love Jesus (peace be upon him) because he needed to die for them, he needed to suffer, he needed to be tortured. This ‘love’ is quite perplexing, the idea of loving someone to the extent you need them to die and that you rejoice at their torture and death is an inscrutable irony. It is something which simply cannot be ignored. It necessarily needs to be viewed as cognitive dissonance. How is it that one can love someone to the point that you wish death upon them? That you wish to see their blood spilled? That you celebrate in masses the blood of Jesus (peace be upon him)? Is this not bloodlust?
In conclusion, Muslims do love Jesus (peace be upon) without wishing death or harm upon him. Christians also love Jesus (peace be upon him) in a different way. They love him to the extent that he needed to be tortured, maimed and killed – the very thing he condemns the disbelieving Jews of doing to previous Prophets. As the artist Meat Loaf once sang, “I’d do anything for love, but I won’t do that!”
and God knows best.”
I’m often asked this question by Christians. Do Muslims really love Jesus (peace be upon him)? It’s a question I’ve always found to be odd, but it is popular and asked with good intentions. It’s odd because nothing in Islam portrays Jesus (peace be upon him) in a negative light. The Qur’an says of Jesus:
“And We gave Jesus, the Son of Mary, clear proofs, and We supported him with the Pure Spirit.” – Qur’an 2:253.
Of his birth, it was said to his blessed mother Maryam (may God be pleased with her):
He said, “I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you [news of] a pure boy.” – Qur’an 19:19.
The Qur’an emphasizes his place and role amongst the blessed Messengers of God:
“And [mention, O Muhammad], when We took from the prophets their covenant and from you and from Noah and Abraham and…
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“ It is worth adding that, given the extensive material now available to lawyers on what constitutes a fair interview of a young child, the assessment of fairness is for the lawyers, and ultimately the judge, to determine, and not for expert opinion from a psychologist.”
Mark William Patrick MacLennan v Her Majesty’s Advocate,  HCJAC 128 – Read judgment
The High Court has refused an appeal under Article 6 on the lack of effective cross-examination of child witness, but has provided interesting commentary on how such investigations could be better handled in future to meet Strasbourg standards.
The original charge concerned reports made against the appellant, the manager at a nursery in Fort William, from children alleging various forms of sexual contact. After initial allegations, joint investigation interviews (JIIs) were conducted between May and July 2013 with various children from the nursery. The value of some of the interviews was questioned by the High Court, with one described as “leading in the extreme” (paragraph 5), yet none were challenged by the defendant when presented as evidence during his trial.
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Madrasas can give a slight sigh of relief, for now, before taking a deep breath and wondering what the government will try next. The proposal for regulating “Out-of-school Education Settings” appears less likely to proceed as planned after the government received many thousands of replies to the consultation from piano teachers and Christian Sunday Schools indignant that they were being caught in a net clearly designed to target Muslims. Thankfully many other groups fit the bill.
The proposal was debated among MPs recently and, along with noting that not one of the 13 Muslim MPs were present for the important 90 minute debate, it was interesting to see the mix of views among the opponents to the proposal and I would urge you to watch it for yourself here:http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/26ccaa60-67c0-4321-b5e3-b47be504d5b1
Sir Edward Leigh got the ball rolling and seemed to genuinely realise “the problem” the proposed regulation addressed was, in fact, a tiny number of Muslims who will always be under the radar of any legislation. He seemed genuinely concerned that not only non-Muslims but innocent Muslim groups, including the orthodox, would be caught in the broad net the government was proposing to cast. It became abundantly clear he knew it should really have been titled the ‘Regulating Madrasas Bill’ when he said
“The truth is that those thousands of hobby groups are being forced to register only so the system looks even-handed. That is the point: the Government are terrified of not looking even-handed, and therefore they are bringing in all those other harmless groups.”
Perhaps in a vain attempt to show they occupy the moral high ground, the government does not want to appear obvious in creating Islamophobic policy; or, perhaps they have to use these deceitful methods because thankfully, as this debate showed, some in government do not share the Tory leadership’s Neocon agenda.
As Islamophobia grows in the general public, it seems only a matter of time before the government can drop the pretence and start targeting Muslims openly. In fact is there anyone left who remains oblivious to what they are doing?
When Ofsted inspects a handful of private faith schools to rustle up some “damning” sample evidence of un-Britishness for the coming season’s Islamophobic policy making, is anyone fooled by the token inclusion of a few non-Muslim schools?
Could the increasingly obvious futility of this charade be why the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan all but admitted the new anti-extremism website educateagainsthate.com did not target non-Muslims. When asked if Christian converts should be reported she replied “of course not!”.
During the Regulating Madrasas Bill meeting, the MP for East Belfast Gavin Robinson said,
“The Government recently published a counter-extremism strategy. When I asked why Northern Ireland, which has a fair number of extremists, was not included in the strategy, I was told, ‘Don’t push the issue too far. It is really a counter-Islamic strategy.’”
David Cameron recently set out to reassure MPs that the Regulating Madrasas Bill would not harm any party other than Muslims who he has pre-emptively condemned for pre-crime thoughts. He came pretty close to speaking the truth but it came out expertly fudged as usual:
“The Government is working closely with the Church of England and other faith communities to ensure that the system is targeted, proportionate and focuses on those settings which are failing to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Those discussions have been productive, and we have made clear the focus is on establishments that are preaching hatred or putting children at risk.”
Not all in government seem to have got the memo that Christians are to be viewed as non-combatants in this thought-war. Michal Wilshaw head of Ofsted appears to have the extremist hunting bit between his teeth and promised to raid Sunday Schools to look for them there as well. Perhaps forgetting Mr Wilshaw was only repeating the official line from Neocon head office, Tory MP Sir Gerald Howarth called for Mr Wilshaw to be sacked, for simply promising to follow through with the proposed legislation. There is so much deception going on around this issue that people in government look like they are struggling to keep up with what is spin to fool the public, what is hollow appeasement to calm the unintended victims and what is actually intended policy.
In the Regulating Madrasas Bill debate Sir Gerald was refreshingly honest when he said “the problem is confined to one religion only: Islam!” showing great exasperation, I presume because while he thinks only Muslims are a threat to national security, the government cannot just write a bill plainly called The Regulating Madrasas Bill. No doubt, the Muslim community can empathise with him on that account. We all know exactly what the Bill is truly for. It seems like only the mealy-mouthed Tory leadership are left insulting everyone’s intelligence; thinking they can legislate against Scout groups then whisper quietly to them “don’t worry, we’re just using you as cover”. As Fiona Bruce MP pointed out “what if” the politicians making the reassuring whispers today change to, yes its sadly possible, an even more illiberal government who might actually use the enacted legislation against non-Muslims. If nothing else it would give job security to Michal Wilshaw.
Still, for whatever reason (probably legal), the puzzle the government has set itself is how to target Muslims without appearing to be targeting Muslims. This attack on Madrasas is mainly failing because of the other groups inadvertently being targeted. We should be under no illusion that they will just give up trying to regulate madrasas. There is hope that some opposition to Muslims being unreasonably singled out will come from the MPs who know what the first steps to fascism look like. That might keep us safe, for now.
I fear it is likely that if we do not urgently do more to address the Islamophobia that continues to ferment in the electorate, gradually MPs will view standing up for Muslims as being political suicide. As Gavin Robinson said about a previous debate, after simply defending Muslims against the poisonous ideology of Donald Trump, MPs were branded “Jihadist-supporters” by some. Also let us not forget the Prime Minster’s escape of censure for labelling his colleagues “terrorist sympathisers” when they opposed bombing Syria which, by the way, is just another Muslim nation that has never attacked the UK. We have become accustomed to a middle ground government and take it for granted. But, voters who are increasingly fearful of Muslims could easily replace their current openly “terrorist loving” MP with someone further to the Right, as is rapidly happening across Europe and, of course, in the USA. The remainder would be MPs too afraid to speak out in our defence. Who can say if our current Muslim MPs will be useful in the future? Judging by their absence in this crucial debate they seem already entirely afraid to be openly defending Muslim interests.
If we do not start being more active in challenging the Islamophobic rhetoric from the government and the media we should not be surprised that people are increasingly fearful of us. Urgent action is needed by us all. Write emails lobbying your MP and councillors on issues of government policy that affect us. Invite your local MP to meet with a delegation from your mosque to discuss relevant issues. Offer to run a public open day at your local mosque if they do not already do them. Take some food around to your non-Muslim neighbours. Write letters or complaints to your local paper challenging Islamophobia. Phone in to radio programs when they are discussing Islam. Submit positive news stories to your local newspaper about your community and invite local journalists to community events. Volunteer for a community clean-up effort, food bank or soup kitchen. Force non-Muslims to notice you doing good deeds, not out of fear or to appease the non-Muslims, but because it is da’wah for the sake of Allāh. Don’t wait until you are perfect Muslims, as many think they should, we need to act now to the best of our ability. Stay within your scope of understanding and inshaAllah your efforts will not be counterproductive.
If we had all been doing our job of da’wah over the course of these last 40-50 years while there have been millions of Muslims in Europe it would have now been impossible to suddenly convince the public that we are a dangerous menace, because they would have all known our reality first hand. Sadly, many of us still do not challenge Islamophobia or engage with others. We are insular, staying within the comfort of our homes, extended families and Muslim communities. Ask the Jews where a campaign of hate ended for them and look to Bosnia and older history for what might happen again to the Muslims of Europe. Too many of us think that if we are quiet and keep our heads down no harm will come to us. It is true that we are innocent after all but the campaign against us goes on whether we like it or not and never has inaction won a battle.
Make duʿā’ for our success but do not forget that Mūsā (ʿalayhi al-Salām) had to hit the sea with his staff before Allāh parted it, Maryam had to shake the tree before Allāh made the fruit fall, Nūḥ had to build the ark. Do we not also have to take action before Allāh will answer our duʿā’ and, if He wills, allows us and our children to continue leading peaceful lives practicing our religion in Europe and calling others to the truth.
Probably the most useful thing to come from the debate was the legal advice that Fiona Bruce received from Professor Julian Rivers, professor of jurisprudence at the University of Bristol and an expert on law and religion. He described the proposals as “astonishing” and said that such a registration requirement, as it would apply to religious groups, would “be straightforwardly in breach of the UK’s international human rights obligations.” Imagine the backlash against the government if the bill went ahead but after a legal challenge all the faith groups including Muslims were exempt from regulation; Ofsted left dutifully seeking out extremists in Violin classes and Girl Guides groups.
Articles 8, 9, 10, 11, 14 and 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and the UK’s Human Rights Act 1998 which brings the convention into UK law, states that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and expression, to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority. In his opinion, requiring religious groups to register would breach that. Last year, the European Court of Human Rights said that the European Convention on Human Rights “excludes any discretion on the part of the State to determine whether religious beliefs or the means used to express such beliefs are legitimate.”
So I would encourage every teacher in every Madrasa to start the next lesson by teaching the children to memorise sūrahs 8, 9, 10, 11, 14 and 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights as it is perhaps the main legal defence we have to practice and teach our religion in the UK. It is also, perhaps, the best defence against parts of our religion being labelled extremist.
And I would seriously encourage every Madrasa and, in fact, all Muslims to join Liberty.Liberty is an organisation at the forefront in the fight against this government’s attempts to scrap the Human Rights Act. Pay attention to their campaigns as many of their fights are our fights.
How the CIA Helped Fuel the Rise of ISIS ~ Jan 29, 2016.
The New York Times tosses previously reported facts down the memory hole, whitewashing the US’s role in Syria leading ultimately to the rise of ISIS.
The New York Times has habitually downplayed the early role of the CIA in coordinating the flow of arms to armed rebels in Syria in furtherance of the US policy of overthrowing the regime of Bashar al-Assad. By doing so, the Times hence also whitewashes the US role in the rise of the Islamic State (or ISIS).
The Media’s Longstanding Propaganda Narrative
I have written repeatedly about how the Times‘ reporting serves as propaganda, manufacturing consent for a US interventionist policy in Syria, as the Times has repeatedly advocated.
For instance, in “NYT’s Bill Keller’s Propaganda Case for War with Syria” (May 2013), I wrote:
I find myself commenting again and again and again and again andagain on how the U.S. media (following the lead of America’s “newspaper of record”) is being willfully dishonest with the public and attempting to whitewash the actual U.S. role in the Syrian conflict by tossing relevant facts down the memory hole; namely, the facts that (1) the CIA has already been coordinating the flow of arms to the rebels, and (2) most of those arms have indeed ended up in the hands of Islamic extremists.
My post “NYT Continues to Downplay How CIA-Funneled Arms to Syrian Rebels Helped Strengthen Jihadists” (October 2013) began:
As usual, the New York Times is spinning information to willfully obfuscate the role of the U.S. in arming Syrian rebels whose ranks include al-Qaeda-affiliated and other Islamic extremist groups, with most of the arms falling into the hands of the jihadists.
In “NYT Whitewashes US Support for Syrian Armed Rebels (Again)” (February 2014), I explained:
The reason the Times does not disclose this to readers is because it would undermine the obligatory propaganda narrative designed to manufacture consent for U.S. interventionist foreign policy. According to this narrative, the mess that Syria has become is a consequence of a lack of U.S. intervention. This is nonsense, of course. Precisely the opposite is true.
Still At It…
The Times‘ recent report, “U.S. Relies Heavily on Saudi Money to Support Syrian Rebels” pretty much follows the same script. While in some respects, this is great journalism, offering heretofore unknown details about US policy (such as the name of the CIA’s operation there: Timber Sycamore), it also maintains the obligatory propaganda narrative.
The article opens by reminding us what we already knew: that “President Obama secretly authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to begin arming Syria’s embattled rebels in 2013”.
Further down the page, the Times adds (emphasis added):
When Mr. Obama signed off on arming the rebels in the spring of 2013, it was partly to try to gain control of the apparent free-for-all in the region. The Qataris and the Saudis had been funneling weapons into Syria for more than a year.
A little further on, the Times does acknowledge:
The C.I.A. helped arrange some of the arms purchases for the Saudis, including a large deal in Croatia in 2012.
Yet it continues:
By the summer of 2012, a freewheeling feel had taken hold along Turkey’s border with Syria as the gulf nations funneled cash and weapons to rebel groups — even some that American officials were concerned had ties to radical groups like Al Qaeda.
The C.I.A. was mostly on the sidelines during this period, authorized by the White House under the Timber Sycamore training program to deliver nonlethal aid to the rebels but not weapons. In late 2012, according to two former senior American officials, David H. Petraeus, then the C.I.A. director, delivered a stern lecture to intelligence officials of several gulf nations at a meeting near the Dead Sea in Jordan. He chastised them for sending arms into Syria without coordinating with one another or with C.I.A. officers in Jordan and Turkey.
So there you have it. Early on, throughout 2012, the CIA, apart from helping arrange arms purchases and delivering nonlethal aid, was just sitting “on the sidelines” as US Gulf allies — predominantly Saudi Arabia and Qatar — funneled weapons to the Syrian rebels despite the risk of the arms falling into the hands of extremist groups. It wasn’t until “Months later” that “Mr. Obama gave his approval for the C.I.A. to begin directly arming and training the rebels from a base in Jordan, amending the Timber Sycamore program to allow lethal assistance” (emphasis added).
Which brings us to what’s wrong with this report. The key word in that last quote is “directly”. As is so often the case, the real story is in what the Times leaves out.
How the CIA Armed Extremist Groups in Syria
So what is it that the Times is leaving out? Well, as the Washington Post reported in May 2012 (emphasis added):
Syrian rebels battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad have begun receiving significantly more and better weapons in recent weeks, an effort paid for by Persian Gulf nations and coordinated in part by the United States, according to opposition activists and U.S. and foreign officials.
A senior State Department official told the Post, “we continue to coordinate our efforts with friends and allies in the region and beyond in order to have the biggest impact on what we are collectively doing”.
We learned that “Opposition figures said they have been in direct contact with State Department officials to designate worthy rebel recipients of arms and pinpoint locations for stockpiles” — and that “the United States and others are moving forward toward increased coordination of intelligence and arming for the rebel forces.”
The following month, in June 2012, the Wall Street Journal filled in more of the story, enlightening that the CIA and State Department had begun stepping up their coordination with the Free Syrian Army in March 2012 in furtherance of the US goal of regime change. The Journal reported:
As part of the efforts, the Central Intelligence Agency and State Department—working with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other allies—are helping the opposition Free Syrian Army develop logistical routes for moving supplies into Syria and providing communications training….
The U.S. in many ways is acting in Syria through proxies, primarily Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, say U.S. and Arab officials….
Saudi Arabia and Qatar are providing the funds for arms….
So, again, the CIA was helping to coordinate the flow of arms to the rebels despite concerns about “some rebels’ suspected ties to hard-line Islamists, including elements of al Qaeda.”
Little more than a week later, the New York Times itself reported:
A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers.
The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.
The C.I.A. officers have been in southern Turkey for several weeks, in part to help keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, one senior American official said.
So there you have it from the Times itself: the CIA was coordinating the flow of arms from the US’s Gulf allies to the Syrian rebels, ostensibly in part to prevent them from falling into the hands of extremist groups.
In July, Reuters revealed that the “nerve center” of the arms-funneling operation was Adana, Turkey — a city that is “also home to Incirlik, a U.S. air base where U.S. military and intelligence agencies maintain a substantial presence.”
Among the arms allegedly supplied to the rebels were shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, or MANPADS.
So what was the result of the US’s intervention in Syria, ostensibly in part to prevent these arms from falling into the wrong hands?
The Rise of ISIS
If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime….
Not to be unclear, the DIA specifically noted that “the supporting powers to the opposition” included “The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey”.
And, indeed, as we learned in October 2012 from no less impeccable source than, again, the New York Times itself:
Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists….
That report even noted that the US had been helping to organize the flow of arms.
And yet despite that acknowledgment, the article seeded the propaganda narrative that the problem in Syria is too little US intervention:
American officials have been trying to understand why hard-line Islamists have received the lion’s share of the arms shipped to the Syrian opposition through the shadowy pipeline with roots in Qatar, and, to a lesser degree, Saudi Arabia. The officials, voicing frustration, say there is no central clearinghouse for the shipments, and no effective way of vetting the groups that ultimately receive them.
Those problems were central concerns for the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, David H. Petraeus, when he traveled secretly to Turkey last month, officials said.
This despite officials from countries in the region telling the Times that Petraeus himself had been “deeply involved in trying to steer the supply effort”.
One Middle Eastern diplomat who has dealt extensively with the C.I.A. on the issue said that Mr. Petraeus’s goal was to oversee the process of “vetting, and then shaping, an opposition that the U.S. thinks it can work with.”
It wasn’t long before the narrative that the chaos in Syria was in no small part due to the Obama administration’s unwillingness to intervene came to dominate the media.
The head of the DIA at the time of its warning foreshadowing the rise of the Islamic State, Michael Flynn, later said that the Obama administration did not “turn a blind eye”, but rather made “a willful decision” to coordinate the flow of arms to Syrian rebels with full knowledge that the weapons were ending up in the hands of extremist groups.
Seymour M. Hersh followed up, and in the London Review of Books wrote:
Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, director of the DIA between 2012 and 2014, confirmed that his agency had sent a constant stream of classified warnings to the civilian leadership about the dire consequences of toppling Assad. The jihadists, he said, were in control of the opposition. Turkey wasn’t doing enough to stop the smuggling of foreign fighters and weapons across the border. ‘If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic,’ Flynn told me. ‘We understood Isis’s long-term strategy and its campaign plans, and we also discussed the fact that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria.’ The DIA’s reporting, he said, ‘got enormous pushback’ from the Obama administration. ‘I felt that they did not want to hear the truth.’
Half a year after Brad Hoff broke the story of the DIA memo, the New York Times finally got around to reporting on it:
Who are they? What do they want? Were signals missed that could have stopped the Islamic State before it became so deadly?
And there were, in fact, more than hints of the group’s plans and potential. A 2012 report by the United States Defense Intelligence Agency was direct: The growing chaos in Syria’s civil war was giving Islamic militants there and in Iraq the space to spread and flourish. The group, it said, could “declare an Islamic state through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”
“This particular report, this was one of those nobody wanted to see,” said Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who ran the defense agency at the time.
“It was disregarded by the White House,” he said. “It was disregarded by other elements in the intelligence community as a one-off report. Frankly, at the White House, it didn’t meet the narrative.”
Likewise, while inconvenient facts occasionally manage to slip through the cracks, the New York Times, as in its recent report on the US-Saudi alliance against the Assad regime, routinely whitewashes the US role, and, namely, the fact that the US had a policy dating to early 2012 of coordinating the flow of arms to Syrian rebels with full knowledge that the arms were winding up in the hands of extremist groups and despite warnings from the intelligence community that this would fuel the rise of the movement we know today as ISIS.
Such truths are tossed down the memory hole because, at the New York Times, it just doesn’t meet the narrative.