Maajid Nawaz Addresses the U.S. government’s Interagency Strategic Communication Network, 22/10/09

On 22nd October Maajid Nawaz gave a webcast presentation to the S.C. Network in Washington.  The purpose of the talk was to explain Quilliam’s history, programs and philosophy.
This event was attended by U.S. government officials from the State Department and the Department of Defense, including those from the Office of Counter Terrorism and Margo Squire, the Director of the Policy Leadership Division of the Leadership and Management School at State Department’s Foreign Service Institute. 

The main issues that Maajid discussed were:
• His personal story and former involvement with Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamist group that seeks to impose a global Caliphate.  He emphasized that whilst personal grievances, such as religious discrimination, make one susceptible to radicalization, this is often not sufficient in the drive towards extremism without the exploitation by influential people, who frame these grievances in an extremist narrative.
• The differentiation between Islam and Islamism; the former being a religion and the latter being a political ideology like Communism or Fascism.
• How the leading ideologues tend to be well-educated, middle to upper class Muslims, as opposed to the disenfranchised poor.
• How extremism is not necessarily violent but can still pose a serious threat to the rest of society through its denial of the religious freedom and self-determination of others and its assertive recruitment techniques. 
• The operation of Quilliam and its goal of countering radicalization, through the Research and Policy Unit, the Outreach and Training Unit and the Global Affairs Unit.
• That the struggle against terrorism and extremism is not a ‘War on Islam,’ as Islamists claim, since if it were it would have initially been waged against Muslims at home, as opposed to being launched in faraway countries.  Such a contention is used by Islamists for their own political ends, to encourage all Muslims to fight governments that do not conform to their political agenda.