Maajid Nawaz is a UK-based counter-extremism activist, author and content producer. In this interview, we discuss his membership of a fundamentalist pan-Islam political group, imprisonment in Egypt, and returning to the UK to work on counter-extremism. We also discuss being forced to leave his position as a presenter on LBC.
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Maajid Nawaz experienced first-hand the rise of Islamic extremism through the 1990s. At the time terrorism was not viewed to be a major global issue: it was confined to specific pockets around the world or used by individuals expressing narrow ideological views. This was when Nawaz was a senior member of a political organisation pushing for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate.
Then 9/11 happened, which brought the threat of Islamic terrorism sharply into focus. Nawaz and like-minded people were now perceived to be the enemy by a growing political alliance. Nawaz was in Egypt, arriving a day before 9/11. He was picked up and imprisoned for 4 years in Egypt’s most notorious prison. He witnessed torture and was subject to a period in solitary confinement.
Following pressure from Amnesty amongst others, Nawaz was eventually released and returned to the UK. Rather than turn to thoughts of revenge, Nawaz sort to break the cycle of violence. He renounced his Islamist past and then co-founded a counter-extremist foundation. He ended up advising leaders around the world, including UK Prime Minister David Cameron and US President George Bush.
Nawaz is now a content producer seeking to cover a range of issues: politics, security and human rights, Jihadism, Nationalism, China’s ill-treatment of Uighurs, and the Covid lockdowns. His dissenting views on the orthodoxy regarding vaccines led to him being forced to leave as a presenter on the talk radio station LBC and becoming an independent voice.
There is a certain clarity of thought that comes from having experienced at close quarters how the geo-political landscape has shifted and changed over the past two decades. Nawaz has clear ideas on how the world works, how institutions and systems behave, and why we must question the mainstream narrative. When all systems lean toward power, it is important for some to lean in the opposite direction.