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Maajid Nawaz: British Campuses Have Been Infiltrated by Theocratic Fantasists

Maajid Nawaz

Last week, the man called “Jihadi John” by the world’s media was unmasked as Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born Muslim and naturalized British citizen from London. Not only that, but the Islamic State’s most notorious Western recruit was identified as a graduate in computer science from the University of Westminster.

Many were shocked that the apparent executioner in videos made by the Islamic State, or ISIS, was an educated, middle-class metropolitan. In fact, academic institutions in Britain have been infiltrated for years by dangerous theocratic fantasists. I should know: I was one of them.

The University of Westminster is well known for being a hotbed of extremist activity. The university’s Islamic Society is heavily influenced, sometimes controlled, by the radical Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir and regularly gives a platform to preachers of hate. On the very day of the Emwazi revelation, the university was to host a lecture by Haitham al-Haddad — a man accused of espousing homophobia,advocating female genital mutilation and professing that Jewish people are descended from apes and pigs. The event was suspended not by the university authorities, but by the Islamic Society, which pulled it only because of security concerns.

Islamist “entryism” — the term originally described tactics adopted by Leon Trotsky to take over a rival communist organization in France in the early 1930s — continues to be a problem within British universities and schools. Twenty years ago, I played my part as an Islamist entryist at college.

I was born and raised in Essex, just outside London, to a financially comfortable, well-educated Pakistani family. But I came of age as the genocide against Bosnian Muslims unfolded on the other side of Europe. That horror, coupled with the violence of white racists I experienced at home, led to my becoming disconnected from mainstream society


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