Maajid Nawaz's current work and passion is founded by his early years spent as a leader of the global Islamist group, Hizb ut-Tahrir. His imprisonment in Egypt allowed him years of study, and marked his transformation towards more anti-extreme thought and democratic values and ideology leading to his adoption as an Amnesty International "prisoner of conscience.'
Human Rights, education, economic empowerment, and a respect for individual liberty are matters close to Maajid's heart and he is now a leading critic of his former Islamist ideological dogma, while remaining a Muslim. Maajid has become a prominent counter-extremism consultant and a regular writer, debater and sought after public commentator. In this regard, he has been called upon by heads of state, statesmen and international bodies for his professional opinion.
Nawaz is Co-Founder and Chairman of Quilliam " a globally active think tank focusing on matters of Integration, Citizenship & Identity, Religious Freedom, Extremism and Immigration. He is also the 2015 Liberal Democrat candidate for the constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn in North-West London, where his party came in third by 841 votes in 2010, just 1.6%, making this one of the closest election contests in the country.
An advocate of peaceful discourse, education, and tolerance Maajid shares with audiences his deep understanding of radical Islamist thought, and how his journey toward democratic awakening has inspired his beliefs on how we can, and should, move away from extremism around the globe.
This talk is a summary of Maajid Nawaz’s experiences as an Amnesty International adopted Prisoner of Conscience in an Egyptian jail. It consists of his reflections about thought crime, why he believes it is disingenuous to criminalize thought, even though we may disagree with, and proposes an alternative called “civic challenge” as a means to reform ideas we disagree with. Nawaz also relates the effects of human rights campaigning can have on a prisoner and shares personal anecdotes from prison and stories from those he served time with including former Islamist Presidential assassins, leading Islamist ideologues, and leading Liberal reform voices in Egypt.
As someone previously imprisoned in Egypt with the leading voices of Islamism there today, and as a former Islamist for 13 years, Maajid Nawaz charters the historic rise of Islamism in Egypt from Nasser’s time to Sadat to Mubarak and today, and the role prison played in the growth of this movement. Maajid Nawaz then talks of how it spread to other countries from Egypt, and the role of geo-politics in transforming this movement from political Islamism to modern day Jihadism. Nawaz provides a basic definition of the Islamist ideology, its narrative, and how to differentiate it from Islam. He then elaborates on the different schools of thought within this phenomenon, and their intellectual and strategic goals, why Islamists became the net-beneficiaries of the Arab Uprisings, and what can be done to chart a direction forward.
This talk aims to explain the intricacies of nuclear armed Pakistan by addressing the key fault lines that divide the country: identity and ideology. It assesses the reason why Pakistan was created and the relevance of this reason today, the reasons for the further divide of East Pakistan into Bangladesh, the impact of this on the founding vision of the country, the ongoing identity crises the country suffers from, the view of the country’s religious clerical forces that there is “unfinished business” to complete in the nations character, and the army’s use of this view to create domestic stability and to aid its geo-political struggle with India.
In this talk Maajid Nawaz explains his views on what makes societies strong, stable, and prosperous. The “fabric” that binds societies is not a political one, but sits above politics, a “civilizational” fabric. If no such “fabric” is agreed upon, and there are a few to choose from, societies will tear themselves apart. For years, Islamists have been working in Muslim-majority societies on the grassroots in order to lay the foundations of their own civilizational fabric, and have been succeeding. Conversely, Nawaz believes that democratic forces have not been working on the grassroots, with the people, in order to create genuine grassroots buy-in for the civilizational choice of a democratic political culture. As a result, rulers (even secular ones) of Muslim-majority societies have been pandering to a level of “Islamist intimidation” in society, gradually succumbing to demands to Islamist society. However, imagine if there was “democratic intimidation” in Muslim-majority societies? What would that look like? And how could that reshape the civilizational direction of 1.2 billion of the world’s population?
This talk aims to articulate the effects of globalization on extremist rhetoric, and why in many cases globalization has in fact increased rather than diminished the appeal of extremist brands across the political spectrum. Maajid Nawaz explains the way in which the basis for societies evolved from being religious to being nationalist to being citizenship-based, and how societies are now evolving to bond around ideas and narratives. Nawaz then outlines what is needed in order for democrats to regain lost ground in this new reality, and elaborates on the ingredients and strategy needed to re-popularize democratic culture across the world.
Maajid Nawaz shares his life story – from being born and raised in Essex, UK, to the violent racism and discrimination that contributed to his joining an extreme Islamist group at the age of 16. Nawaz narrates his journey through the ranks of this group being on its leadership in the UK, and helping to found it in Pakistan Denmark, and Egypt – and his eventual arrest, torture, and imprisonment in Egypt. He elaborates on how, during his time in prison, he underwent a radical yet gradual change in beliefs that fundamentally affected the course of his life, and others after him. After his release from Egypt, Nawaz went on to become one of the most visible and vocal critics of the Islamist ideology globally, while remaining a Muslim and campaigning for democratic change.