On 14th May 2009, Quilliam issued the following press release:
Last night Maajid Nawaz, the Director of the Quilliam Foundation, was physically attacked by a British member of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), a global Islamist organisation, in Lahore in Pakistan. Maajid, a former senior member of HT, is presently touring university campuses in Pakistan to promote religious tolerance and political pluralism.
Maajid was in a restaurant in Lahore with friends when he was attacked by a man subsequently identified as Tayyab Muqeem, a British Muslim who was sent to Pakistan by the British branch of HT in order to recruit Pakistanis into HT.
Muqeem, a former boxer from Stoke, waited for Maajid to stand up to leave the restaurant and then punched him in the face while Maajid was exchanging the Muslim greeting of ‘salaam alaikum’ or ‘peace be with you’ with his friends. The severe blow knocked Maajid to the ground.
Eyewitnesses say Maajid promptly stood up and offered ‘salam’ or ‘peace’ to his attacker. Muqeem then lunged forward to continue his attack on Maajid but restaurant staff and others physically stopped him. As he was forcibly removed, Muqeem threatened Maajid, saying ‘this is only a slap compared with what I am going to do to you’.
Ed Husain, co-director of Quilliam said:
“Maajid is a brave, sincere Muslim who will not be cowed by Islamist violence – this latest attack on Maajid only illustrates the power and impact of his work. Hizb ut-Tahrir’s global leader, Ata Abu Rishta, has forbidden his members from speaking to Maajid Nawaz and others. It appears that some HT members have now taken the decision to carry out physical attacks.
“Again, we challenge Abu Rishta and his party’s members to an open debate and call on them to abandon violence. Islamism is a bankrupt ideology, and Islamists’ adoption of violence is proof of their failure to win the battle of ideas. As defectors from Islamism, we challenge Islamists to meet ideas with ideas rather than with violence. We are confident that Islam’s inherent pluralism will, inevitably, triumph over Islamism.”
The attacker: The attacker, Tayyab Muqeem, a former boxer and youth worker from Stoke, currently teaches and runs an agency in Pakistan that sends Pakistani students to study in British universities. Like many other HT members, Muqeem was sent from the UK to Pakistan to spread Hizb ut-Tahrir’s messages of hate, religious separatism and an expansionist Islamist state and to recruit Pakistanis into the group. A Youtube video of Muqeem is available here.
Hizb ut-Tahrir in Pakistan: Hizb ut-Tahrir in Pakistan was set up by British HT members under instruction from the global leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir when Pakistan became a nuclear power in 1998. Many of HT’s operations in Pakistan are funded by their activists in the UK.
Quilliam in Pakistan: A team of Quilliam staff, led by Maajid Nawaz, has been holding events in nearly 30 universities across Pakistan during the last month. Thus far, the events have been attended by thousands of Pakistani students (further details will be made publicly available upon the conclusion of the university tour).
Notes to editors
1. Quilliam’s events in Pakistan are part of our Global Affairs Unit’s series of events in key countries to disrupt the extremist thought traffic between Britain and Pakistan, and promote religious tolerance and political pluralism.
2. At a later date, Quilliam will publish material on Pakistan and the threat of extremism, linked to Britain.