On Monday 1st and Tuesday 2nd March, Quilliam’s co-director, Maajid Nawaz, spoke at St Anthony’s College, Oxford and at Durham University.

 

At Oxford he presented ‘Intellectual hijacking: the Islamist policy of targeting academic institutions,’ a paper which he is co-authoring with George Readings, Communications Officer and Research Fellow at Quilliam. Maajid’s talk formed part of a seminar series entitled ‘Education: Promoting Radicalisation or Countering Extremism?’ in which a range of other speakers are also taking part, including Professor Tariq Ramadan of Oxford University, Professor Lynne Davies of the University of Birmingham and Dr Tahir Abbas of the University of Exeter. The papers that the speakers are presenting as part of this seminar series will be published in an Oxford journal in the coming months. For more information about the seminar series, see here.

 

The paper that Maajid presented discusses the extent to which Islamists have a policy of targeting academic institutions and looks at what can be done to challenge the influence that Islamism has on campuses. Around 20 postgraduate students and academics attended the seminar and, after the presentation, there was an in-depth discussion about various related topics, including the implications of teaching “Islamic Science” within British educational establishments, the role of groups with Islamist origins which have since moved away from Islamism and the implications of declaring jihadists to be non-Muslims.

 

At Durham, Maajid addressed an audience of about 60, mainly undergraduate student members of the Debating Union on ‘Countering Extremism in the UK and Pakistan’, drawing on his own personal history of being radicalized and his time in prison in Egypt to illuminate a discussion of what radicalization is, how it occurs and what should be done about it. The presentation, which was very positively received, was then followed by an enthusiastic question and answer session in which students asked about the relationship between grievances and extremism and the significance of the recent fatwa from Sheikh Dr Tahir ul-Qadri prohibiting terrorism and suicide bombings. Another topic raised during the question and answer session was the risk non-Muslims face of being condemned as racist or “Islamophobic” if they speak out against Islamism.