Lib Dem candidate Maajid Nawaz tells Hampstead audience: ‘Muslims tend to find liberalism reprehensible’

15:49 14 March 2014

Maajid Nawaz at Waterstones in Hampstead. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Maajid Nawaz at Waterstones in Hampstead. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

© Nigel Sutton email

Maajid Nawaz sparked heated exchanges with audience members at his first public appearance as Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn.

The 36-year-old, who will battle against Labour’s Tulip Siddiq and Conservative Simon Marcus to become Hampstead and Kilburn MP at next year’s general election, appeared at Hampstead Waterstones to speak about his book Radical on Tuesday.

Mr Nawaz spoke to journalist and commentator David Goodhart in front of a packed audience about the memoir exploring his journey from Islamic extremist to co-founder of counter-extremism think tank, Quilliam.

Audience members were able to put questions to Mr Nawaz who was confronted early on by a Muslim man who accused him of “going from one extreme to another”.

The parliamentary hopeful, who spent five years in an Egyptian prison after being arrested in 2001 as a member of Islamist revolutionary group Hizb ut-Tahrir, responded by thanking the man for attending the meeting.

He explained: “It’s a sad indictment of where we are today that the sentence, ‘You’ve gone from one extreme to the other’, can be said without anyone really realising how strange that is.

“It tells us where the Muslim debate is. For the Muslim debate, the other extreme is liberalism.

“When actually the truth is, the other extreme is actually anti-Muslim, fascist violence – Combat 18 or formerly the EDL, which I happened to have a hand in dismantling in this country by convincing their two leaders and two co-founders to leave that organisation.

“Liberalism is respect and tolerance for everyone. The reason why Muslims tend to assume that liberalism is the other extreme is because for them they find it reprehensible that somebody can be liberal and that’s the problem.”

Responding to the man, he added: “Liberalism attempts to bring everyone together on a table and discuss and respect each other.”

Mr Nawaz was then criticised by a female audience member for accusing people on the “far-left”, such as Respect Party founder George Galloway, of refusing to acknowledge the problem of Islamism.

He said he did not agree with Mr Galloway’s stance on the Irael-Palestine conflict and believed in a “two-state solution”.

“I don’t think ‘the other side’ are terrorists,” said Mr Nawaz. “I think that also disempowers the other side which is the genuine Palestinian democrats.

“Having been and spoken to Fatah, also having known the Muslim Brotherhood and lived within a prison for five years with al-Qaeda members, I know all the sides.

“I think Fatah would take particular offence at Hamas being described as ‘the other side’. Palestinians are not a homogenous entity.

“There is no reason for us to choose a terrorist organisation among Palestinians as the representatives of the Palestinians.”

In January, Mr Galloway denounced Mr Nawaz as “rancid” and pledged to put up a Respect Party candidate to contest the election in Hampstead and Kilburn.

Mr Galloway said at the time: “No Muslim will ever vote for the Liberal Democrats anywhere ever unless they ditch the provocateur Maajid Nawaz.”


Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 08:03

A colourful man-about-town has reformed his fringe political party on the back of the Brexit result - which he said is “a step in the right direction” towards abolishing the existing system

Fri, 16:26

Controversial plans to build a 10-storey “big ugly block” of luxury flats in Hampstead were last night waved through by Camden Council.

Fri, 07:00

A row has broken out over plans to dig out a basement car park and swimmming pool next to Hampstead Heath.

Thu, 17:15

A heritage campaigner has told of his devastation after he watched raiders ransack a disused pub that he fought to preserve.

Thu, 15:45

A historic red phone box in Highgate Village could soon be a tiny office space, complete with printing, scanning, copying and wifi

Thu, 11:00

Camden parents were forced to pay a total of £20,000 in school fines in the last year, new figures have revealed.

Thu, 07:08

This year’s Hampstead Christmas Festival has been called off, the Ham&High can reveal.

Wed, 19:00

The vicar believes the flags were taken down on both occasions as part of a targeted ‘homophobic attack’ on his church’s open and inclusive values

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news


Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more. Boots is the number one choice when it comes to purchasing daily essentials.

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now