Lib Dem Maajid Nawaz: ‘George Orwell changed my mind about radical Islam’

Maajid Nawaz. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Maajid Nawaz. Picture: Polly Hancock. - Credit: Archant

Maajid Nawaz, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency, says George Orwell helped pull him back from radical Islam.

The former Islamist told a US radio station that reading Orwell’s 1945 novella Animal Farm in an Egyptian prison, alongside jihadists, changed his beliefs.

Realising it was “impossible to create a utopia”, Mr Nawaz told NPR radio programme Fresh Air: “I began to join the dots and think, ‘My God, if these guys that I’m here with ever came to power, they would be the Islamist equivalent of Animal Farm’.”

After serving four years in prison, he returned to the UK and set up counterterrorism think-tank Quilliam.