In defence of Maajid Nawaz

January 19, 2014 at 6:26 pm (Civil liberties, Free Speech, Galloway, Guest post, Human rights, Islam, islamism, Lib Dems, Pink Prosecco, religion, religious right)

Guest post by Pink Prosecco

Above: Maajid Nawaz

If a Muslim expresses some reservations about Quilliam’s rhetoric or strategies, I tend to assume, not that they are an Evil Islamist, but that – they have some reservations about Quilliam’s rhetoric or strategies.  These are things reasonable people may disagree about.  However some recent responses to Maajid Nawaz’s decision to tweet a Jesus and Mo cartoon go beyond reasonable criticism.

He tweeted the picture after it featured (on a T shirt) on BBC’s The Big Questions, where it was the focus of a debate about free speech.  This is the offending image in question.

Nawaz’s tweet has apparently caused many Muslims, including Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadan Foundation, to make a formal complaint to the Lib Dems.  (Nawaz is the Liberal Democrat PPC for Hampstead and Kilburn.)

Of course it is quite proper to draw attention to bigoted remarks made by politicians, and expect the whip to be withdrawn, or some other form of censure applied, depending on the level of offence.  But the fact some Muslims think it is inappropriate to depict Muhammad does not make Jesus and Mo offensive. Non-Muslims, and Muslims (like Nawaz) who don’t think pictures of Muhammad are taboo, should not be bound by others’ religious dogma.

Reactions to Nawaz cover a spectrum ranging from death threats to warm support – and many of his supporters are fellow-Muslims.  In the middle of the spectrum we find people who would certain not condone or incite violence but who demonstrate clear hostility towards the reformist Nawaz.  Not all of his antagonists are Muslims.  Here’s Gorgeous George’s response.

“No Muslim will ever vote for the Liberal Democrats anywhere ever unless they ditch the provocateur Majid Nawaz, cuckold of the EDL”

5Pillarz, a blog written largely by and for British Muslims, has decided that Nawaz should be their top candidate for ‘Islamophobe of the Year’. The EDL is mentioned at the bottom of their list of suggestions, as a kind of afterthought.

As Maajid Nawaz says:

“Why are many on the “Left” largely silent on Muslim reformers. Want to defend minorities? Well, we’re a minority within a minority, defend us”

As someone from the ‘Left’ I’m happy to defend and support Maajid Nawaz – though I’d draw the line at voting for him.


  1. In defence of Maajid Nawaz | OzHouse said,

    […] Jan 19 2014 by admin […]

  2. richardarmbach2 said,

    The real problem Maajid has is his consorting with the unofficial EDL and the likes of Martin ” the great Koran trick” Bright. I guess its where the money is. But the built in contraditions will do for him in the end.

    • Jim Denham said,

      What the hell are you on about? “Unofficial EDL”? “Martin ‘the great Koran trick’ Bright”? “Where the money is”? “Will do for him in the end”? Make your point plainly, please.

      • richardarmbach2 said,

        Maajid is an on the make carpet bagger. Many Muslims have sussed this. So when he makes a little error like the Mo thing he gets gleefully jumped on. Personally I have absolutely zilch sympathy for him.

    • Solomon said,

      In plain English please. The reaction to Nawaz has been despicable, medieval even.

    • Sam Marsh said,

      ‘the real problem’ is Nawaz receiving death threats.

    • Jim Denham said,

      “Personally I have absolutely zilch sympathy for him”…
      …presumably because you’re a dodgy character and enemy of free speech and enlightenment values, richardarmbach2

      • richardarmbach2 said,

        If you say so.

      • Jim Denham said,

        I do.

  3. Solomon said,

    Good post.

  4. Pink Prosecco said,

    Ugh. This petition asking the Lib Dems to deselect Maajid asserts that David Ward is a good role model.

    The petition asks:

    “Was it right that the play Behzti was cancelled due to the sensitivities in the Sikh community?”

    No, it was not.

  5. Why worship a god who gets enraged at a cartoon? » Butterflies and Wheels said,

    […] Shiraz Socialist has a post In defense of Maajid Nawaz. […]

  6. jimmy glesga said,

    We have a UKIP nutter going on about god causing floods and nasty weather now we have Islamic headbangers going on about a cartoon that has been about for dunkies. A new word now, UKIphobia. Hows that you fruitcakes at Islamaphobia Watch.

  7. Galloway Backs Call to Ditch Majid Mawaz – because of Jesus and Mo Cartoon. | Tendance Coatesy said,

    […] More information over at Shiraz. […]

  8. Howard Fuller said,

  9. jimmy glesga said,

    Gorgeous has been in Scotland with the Naw Campaign and has to keep the five a day carpet kneeler fundamentalists in Bradford West on board. There is an election next year. Gorgeous understands religion very well, he is not daft.

  10. paul said,

    freedom of speech is not the same as freedom to offend…majid offended a community whose values you have no respect for…so you defend majid.

    contrast this to ..the depictions of Ann Frank in bed with Hitler were censored in the west for being utterly offensive and distasteful to the Jewish communit

    • Sarah AB said,

      I do in fact agree with you that this is not precisely a free speech issue. Few critics of Maajid are saying J and M should be banned and few defenders would say that a PPC should be able to make foul comments about Muslims and not be dealt with (while still having the freedom to say those foul things). Do you really think making a joke about the Holocaust is the same as Jesus and Mo? There are many many Islam themed cartoons which are really nasty and which politicians should be disciplined for sharing but J and M is not anti-Muslim – it’s legitimate satire on both Islam and Christianity. One should be able to criticise ideas and philosophies. It’s depressing when a non-Muslim (I assume) sides with the most conservative Muslims when he is getting support from liberal Muslims in countries like Pakistan.

      I’ll put to you the same questions I just put to someone else elsewhere:

      Do you, or do you not, think Maajid Nawaz should be disciplined or deselected by the Lib Dems for retweeting a particularly innocuous J and M cartoon?

      Do you think he’d be targeted in this way if he wasn’t a Muslim?

      • Andrew Coates said,

        I find this event really offensive, but I would not ban it.

        Huffington Post.

        Tommy Robinson, the ex-EDL leader was to be a key speaker at a Holocaust Memorial Day event at a college, until panicked trustees ordered local organisers to withdraw the invitation, The Huffington Post UK can reveal.

        The event was organised by the Suffolk New College & University Campus Suffolk chaplaincy at the college in Ipswich next Monday, in conjunction with controversial Muslim charity JIMAS.


        Incidentally the event is not (yet) cancelled, only relocated to an unknown address.

      • richardarmbach2 said,

        Oh fffs get real. Tommy is nobody. In the first instance he was an invention of Alan Lake. In the second instance he was an invention of Maajid Nawaz to further advance Majjid’s lucrative ” moderate Muslim ” business.

        Leader of the EDL ? Tommy couldn’t lead a soggy bag of marshmellows. He was a front man for Alan Lake and Roberta Moore. When they bowed out there he was standing naked looking for all the world like a leader. Maajid saw his chance and the rest is history.

    • Babs said,


      That’s not exactly the same is it? One is offensive to an entire ethnic group that was massacred by the Hitler led Nazis while the other is offensive not to a particular ethnicity but to members of a religion some of whom can’t accept any form of criticism serious of light hearted about their religion. Personally I don’t know why Nawaz is still a Muslim, he might as well renounce Islam with the kind of company he keeps and some of the things he says and does.

      In fact can someone explain to me what’s so offensive about the Jesus and Mo cartoons from an Islamic perspective other than the fact there are drawings of Mohammed which is unlawful in Islam? It seems to me some need to get a life and get their priorities in order.

    • Jim Denham said,

      Freedom to offend is an essential part of freedom of speech. People who do not accept the right to offend do not support freedom of speech. If you find something offensive, argue against it rationally. Do not seek to ban it: we’re all in favour of the freedom to express views we agree with. It’s views we *don’t* agree with that put our commitment to freedom of speech to the test.

      As a matter of fact I’m not in favour of banning the Ann Frank/Hitler depiction, foul as it must be. But to compare that sort of obscenity with the mild and good-humoured Jesus & Mo cartoons is simply ludicrous and suggests a loss of all sense of proportion.

      And since when, paul, have you become the spokesman for a “community”?

    • Lamia said,

      “the depictions of Ann Frank in bed with Hitler were censored in the west for being utterly offensive and distasteful to the Jewish community”

      Rubbish. And no one got death threats for them and no British politicians solicited retribution against them as Mohammed Shafiq is obviously doing.

      And if you can’t see the difference between very light teasing about Jesus and Mohammed and depicting a holocaust victim in bed with Hitler, you are a sick person indeed.

  11. paul said,

    i hope you will publish my point as no.10

  12. paul said,

    like i mentioned you have a differing values of what is offensive and not offensive. – and you are imposing yours through purposefully/intentionally offending.

    You will censor Ann Frank/hitler depiction whilst go out to offend muslims by creating cartoon characters for mohammed because it does not offend you and further it amuses you at the level of offense that muslims take over this matter (which you do not understand or care to understand)…

    What you are possibly failing to accept is that the muslims are part of the british community – that is how they feel.

    @babs: judaism may be classified under race but there are members of this religion who are not from that middle eastern race – this classification is a bit of a hypocrisy!

    @Jim it does not matter who speaks out. we should all do that.

    Thank you for your points.

    • Babs said,

      I wasn’t referring to Judaism the religion rather the ethnic group of Jews. It’s possible to be a Jewish atheist or a Jewish Muslim.

      In case you haven’t noticed Moses also makes an appearance in the Jesus and Mo cartoons.

    • Lamia said,

      “like i mentioned you have a differing values of what is offensive and not offensive. – and you are imposing yours through purposefully/intentionally offending.”

      On the contrary, nothing is being ‘imposed’ on Muslims by this. they can ignore it. No one is forcing them to do something or restricting their lawful behaviour.

      By contrast, when Islamic conservatives and their ‘progressive’ poodles react to incidents like this by demanding banning or threatening retribution, they are the ones trying to impose restrictions on other people’s lawful behaviour.

  13. Bob-B said,

    Anyone on the Left thinks it’s okay to say things about David cameron or William Hague or Margaret Thatcher which the average Tory will find offensive. Hence no one on the Left thinks that there is a general right not to be offended. That being so, it’s not clear why anyone on the Left thinks it is unacceptable to do or say things that some Muslims find offensive.

  14. Sue R said,

    Thing is that religious folk don’t take kindly to someone pointing out that they accept beliefs without scientifically proven reasons. It kind of upsets them. So there are three grounds for complaint here a) the pictorial depiction of Jesus and Mo, b) the levity with which sacred knowledge is treated, d) the inappropriateness of a ‘public’ figure endorses such a cartoon. When you consider the fight in this country to shrug the established Church of our backs and for the right to dissent, and in Continental Europe for the institution of political freedoms, I could weep that there are people in this day and age who want to disrespect our ancestors. I am actually bloody offended by people who are offended by free speech. This is non-negogiable I am afraid.

  15. paul said,

    @Sue R: interesting point coming back to a core value – separation of church from state. Capitalism. It was about the liberation from the oppression by the church on behalf of the monarchy – a bit more then freedom of speech. Well done.

    real free speech does not really exist.

  16. Jim Denham said,

    “real free speech does not really exist”:
    what do you mean by that? Explain, please. Or are you prevented from doing so by the fact that “real free speech does not really exist”?

  17. RosieB said,

    The King of Dawah has his say:-

    MoDawah @kingofdawah

    We Must Not Allow Our Cohesion To Be Threatened By Those Who Threaten It By Saying It Is Threatened

    “I am the community leader of peace. So I urge the whole community to stay calm. Until my signal.”

    You must not take things I say out of context or I’ll be offended. If you tell me to stop taking things you say out of context, also offended.

    Going to start a petition to protest against people stereotyping me as intolerant just because I started a petition promoting intolerance.

    We need more co-operation between community leaders and the rest of society for peace and cohesion. So co-operate with us, or else.

    We must protest against people saying community leaders are sinister, simply because we do & [say] things they sinisterly misinterpret as sinister

    I absolutely support my right to tell you what you can say, think, tweet or do, in order to save the honour of the community.

    Anyone who describes my strategy to punish those who offend me as the community leader version of The Schlieffen Plan is an absolute rotter.

  18. RosieB said,

    Message from Chris Moos:-

    “While Maajid Nawaz is receiving death threats, instead of unequivocally supporting him, the Liberal Democrats are now urging him to be “more sensitive” and “not to cause offence”. Their statement says:

    “The Liberal Democrats are a party of respect, tolerance and individual liberty. We fundamentally believe in freedom of expression and as such defend Maajid’s right to express his views. But as a party we urge all candidates to be sensitive to cultural and religious feelings and to conduct debate without causing gratuitous or unnecessary offence.”

    The LibDems have also failed to take action against party member Mo Shafiq, who is effectively inciting violence against Maajid Nawaz through his deliberate use of the term ‘Gustagh-e-Rasool’, which translates as ‘enemy of the prophet’ and usually results in murder.

    It is shocking to see that a party that has freedom of speech as one of its core values is utterly failing to stand up for a progressive Muslim and take action against this dangerous anti-liberal campaign.”.

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