On 16th April 2010, Maajid Nawaz, co-Founder and co-Director of Quilliam, addressed an audience of about 50 students and staff of the University of Westminster. Maajid’s presentation was on ‘What makes a London student turn to terrorism?’ and it was organized by staff in the university’s sociology department. The University of Westminster was a particularly auspicious venue for this talk as not only has a former president of the Islamic society there, Yassin Nassari, been convicted of terrorism offences, but Hizb ut-Tahrir continue to be active on campus there.
Maajid used his own experiences as a member and leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir to illuminate his presentation, particularly focusing on his activity at college and university where he recruited many fellow students. This was followed by a summing up of the main factors in the radicalization of an individual: exposure to an ideology that provides a compelling, over-arching narrative of global affairs and history, exposure to people or groups who can articulate that ideology and relate it to the individual’s personal experiences, a crisis of identity and, finally, a range of perceived grievances.
After the talk, there was a lively question and answer session in which students asked Maajid about what made him renounce Islamism and what role secularism can have in guaranteeing religious freedoms, amongst other topics.