Discredited “counter-extremist” activist Maajid Nawaz has been rejected by 45 Muslim organisations who were invited to engage with him on his current tour of Australia.
This comes off the back of his last tour of Australia in 2013, where literally 2 people turned up to a “public forum” organised to present his views to the Muslim community.
Each attempt at shaping false hype around his presence in Australia has ended in dismal failure, indicative of the broader Muslim community sentiment around proponents of Islamic “reform” under the pre-text of countering “extremism” and “radicalisation”.
Muslim mainstream snubs counter-extremist
A prominent British Muslim activist in Australia campaigning against Islamic extremism has been snubbed by 45 Muslim organisations.
Maajid Nawaz’s promoter Think Inc said the UK government adviser and author wanted to meet as many Muslim leaders as possible to discuss counter-extremism with them.
Think Inc contacted 46 organisations, including schools, across Melbourne and Sydney and received one affirmative response.
Muslim Students Australia NSW was among those who declined to meet him.
Think Inc director Suzi Jamil said MSA NSW replied via email saying it and “the wider Australian Muslim community” did not support Nawaz’s views and “his presence in Australia would not be welcomed”.
The Lebanese Muslim Association did not meet with Nawaz and declined to respond to AAP’s questions about him.
Nawaz is a former member of the radical group Hizb ut-Tahrir and spent five years imprisoned in Egypt. During imprisonment, he studied human rights and had a change of heart.
Still a Muslim, though not devout, Nawaz went on to co-found counter-extremism think-tank Quilliam and call for “secular Islam” to reform the Islamic faith.
“(Muslims) are slightly defensive about this work and about the need to challenge extremism,” Nawaz told AAP.
“Often you hear Muslims say, why should I challenge extremism, why should I condemn ISIS, why do I have to apologise for something that’s got nothing to do with me?
“The problem with that line is it’s actually completely disingenuous. No one is asking anyone to apologise.”
Australian Muslim human rights activist Sara Saleh clashed with Nawaz on the ABC’s Monday edition of current affairs program The Drum.
“He has gone from one extreme to the other end in saying: I am the gatekeeper of what it is to be a Muslim, what it is to be appropriate, what kind of Islamism is acceptable,” Ms Saleh said.
Australian Muslim Women’s Association president Silma Ihram was not asked to meet Nawaz but said the way he tackled the issue of extremism got Muslims “a bit off side”.
“The fact that he’s not a practising Muslim doesn’t help at all,” she said.
But Ms Ihram said Nawaz also had good points.
“(The Muslim community) is having difficulty facing internal criticism,” she said.
“The Muslim community at the moment is quite insular and quite defensive.”
Australian New Muslims Association president Said Kanawati was unsure if his organisation was approached, but said there was no need for a campaign to combat Islamic extremism.
“Islam is so clear on what you can and can’t do. There’s no need for campaigns,” he said.
*Maajid Nawaz will speak at Deakin Edge in Melbourne on Friday evening and at the Seymour Centre in Sydney on Saturday.
AAP has contacted the Muslim Students Association NSW for comment.
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