Prominent members of the Muslim community have written to the Liberal Democrats and their leader Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to ask them to reverse their decision to back Maajid Nawaz’s attempt to become an MP at the next election.
The campaign comes after Nawaz posted a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and Prophet Isa (as) on his Twitter feed. Any depiction of the prophets is considered offensive to most Muslims and has traditionally been prohibited by the majority of scholars.
Nawaz, who’s the chairman of the anti-extremism think-tank the Quilliam Foundation, defended his decision to post the cartoon by saying that it was not offensive and that scholars were split over the depiction of the Prophet. He also accused others of inciting his murder by calling him “a defamer of the Prophet.”
But Irfan Ahmed, who is an executive member of the Pendle Liberal Democrats, called on Nick Clegg and the Lib Dem leadership to sack Maajid Nawaz as a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC).
Ahmed has written to the leadership of the Lib Dems and says he has also had a leading Lib Dem agree with him that Maajid’s comments are “childish” and “impolite”.
Commenting, Irfan Ahmed said: “I call on Maajid to do the right thing and quit whilst he is ahead. He has already done enough damage to the Lib Dems, him sticking around is very damaging for the party. My call to Nick Clegg is clear, sack Maajid or lose voters and core campaigners up and down the country.
“I have been discussing this matter since Friday night with a high profile Lib Dem who agrees people who attack religions with cartoons and other jokes are impolite and childish. Lets hope Nawaz can get this into his skull. Clegg must choose, lose hundreds of supporters by keeping Nawaz or sack Nawaz and rescue the Lib Dems which would fizzle out because of people like Nawaz.”
Meanwhile, Imam Shams Adduha of Ebrahim College said Muslims were very insulted by Nawaz’s actions.
He said: “Will it finally get through people’s (especially) the government’s head that Maajid and Quillium Foundation have nothing to do with Muslims and have zero credibility? Taking advice from a think tank whose founder and director insults us isn’t good for the government. Pretty stupid actually.
“It might also be a good idea for Nick Clegg and his Lib Dems to think twice about letting him stand for elections as a Lib Dem candidate. The thing about insults is, it’s not about whether you think something should insult, it about whether something does in fact insult. Cartoon caricatures of our Prophet do indeed insult us.”
And Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadan Foundation said Muslims scholars should be speaking out against Nawaz for “his disgusting tweets.”
“Depicting the Prophet Muhammad and Jesus May Allah peace be upon them is forbidden in Islam and that’s why we object to Maajid Nawaz’s tweet. I have formally complained to the Lib Dems just this moment about his offensive cartoons and will be drafting a letter.”
Nawaz has been heavily criticised by many different sections of the Muslim community over the last few years for focusing on “Islamic extremism” and downplaying the impact of British foreign policy.
The Quilliam Foundation used to get millions in funding from the government which was keen to put the onus on the Muslim community to “clean up its own house” after the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks. Although that funding has now been withdrawn Nawaz still promotes his message of “Muslim reform” on mainstream TV stations and in the right-wing media.
He will also stand for election as a Lib Dem candidate in Hampstead and Kilburn at the next election, where Labour’s majority is wafer thin.
In keeping with mainstream Islamic tradition 5Pillarz will not re-publish the cartoon but you can see what Maajid Nawaz has done and said by accessing his Twitter feed @MaajidNawaz.
And if you want to complain about his actions to the Lib Dems you can reach them on the following e-mail [email protected] or by ringing 020 7227 7999.