Political

Maajid Nawaz: “a tortured jihadist blossoms into Clegg’s darling”

Today’s Sunday Times profiles Maajid Nawaz, the newly selected Liberal Democrat Parliamentary spokesperson for Hampstead and Kilburn:

Maajid Nawaz was once a rabble-rousing recruiter for the Muslim extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. He spewed out hate speeches and welcomed the horror of the 9/11 attack on America. He spent five years in an Egyptian prison where he was subjected to torture and solitary confinement.

Since he renounced radicalism he has been physically attacked on the streets of Pakistan and had his life threatened in Britain. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he has just been selected as the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for the seat of Hampstead and Kilburn in north London.

“Crikey! What have you done to deserve that?” I joke…

It’s the first time that someone caught up in the war on terror has decided to fight not for Allah, but for a seat in parliament. What’s a former hate-mongering Muslim doing in a terribly nice party like the Lib Dems? “They’re the only party that voted against the war in Iraq,” he says.

“Of all the parties the Lib Dems have the best commitment and record on civil liberties and human rights.”…

Along with other former radicals such as Ed Husain, he has set up the Quilliam Foundation, the first anti-extremist think tank.

Today he is Britain’s unofficial anti-extremism tsar: when perplexed prime ministers and insecure security chiefs want to know what to do about Islamic extremism they call in Nawaz for advice.

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