Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Recruited to Islamic Extremism

Fascinating account by Maajid Nawaz of recruitment to radical Islam in British universities:
I had a mind inquiring enough to question world events, as well as the passion fostered by my background to care, but I lacked the emotional maturity to process these things. That made me ripe for Islamist recruitment. Into this ferment came my recruiter, himself straight out of a London medical college.

He belonged to Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which is Arabic for the party of liberation. An international revolutionary Islamist group founded in 1953, it was the first movement to popularize resurrecting a caliphate with a version of Shariah law. Unlike Al Qaeda, Hizb-ut-Tahrir argues for military coups, not terrorism, to achieve power.

The recruiters are adept at manipulating world events to present what I call the “Islamist narrative” — that the world is at war with Islam, and only a caliphate will protect Muslims from the crusaders. I was seduced by the ideology and drawn to its alternative subculture.

By age 16, I had adopted Hizb-ut-Tahrir’s ideas wholeheartedly. I was asked to enroll at Newham College, a state-supported continuing education institution in east London, with the aim of gaining prominence on campus and recruiting other students to the cause. Once elected as president of the student union, I exploited the naïveté of the college, registering supporters to vote for me and consolidating our control.
Nawaz eventually abandoned radical Islam and turned to human rights work, so he was hardly an evil person. Just a confused young man looking for meaning and direction.

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