George Galloway MP has pledged to field a Respect Party candidate in the Hampstead and Kilburn parliamentary seat where Maajid Nawaz will be standing for the Lib Dems at the next election.
Galloway has been an outspoken critic of Quilliam Foundation director Nawaz after the latter tweeted pictures of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and Prophet Isa (as) which many Muslims found offensive.
Galloway said on Twitter last night that Respect would “take the fight” to “rancid” Maajid Nawaz and is inviting applicants who want to fight the seat to contact Respect.
Nearly 21,000 people have signed a petition to get Maajid Nawaz kicked out of the Liberal Democrats.
You can view the petition here:
Nevertheless, Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has defended Nawaz’s “right to express himself.”
In a letter yesterday he said: “I very much recognise and respect that the visual depiction of the Prophet Muhammad is regarded as deeply offensive and distressing to… many… Muslims in the UK and beyond. But I recognise too that there are also Muslims, including devout ones, who take a different view.
“I would always urge all Liberal Democrat candidates to use moderate language, be sensitive to cultural and religious feelings and to conduct debate without causing gratuitous or unnecessary offence. These too are Liberal principles.
“Maajid expressed his view in his personal capacity. He was not representing a view that is Liberal Democrat policy, and his tweet was not discussed or agreed with the Liberal Democrat party centrally before he made it.
“However the Liberal Democrats are a party of respect, tolerance and individual liberty. We fundamentally believe in freedom of expression in an open, liberal and free society and therefore strongly defend Maajid’s right to express his views.
“That said, I understand that Maajid has reflected on his use of language in his tweets in reply to some of those who disagreed with him and has expressed regret through a statement on Facebook for any inappropriate language he used – I welcome this. This was intended to resolve this area of contention and hope it will be taken in this spirit.”
Nawaz’s 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 Although that funding has now been withdrawn Nawaz still promotes his message of “Muslim reform” on mainstream TV stations and in the right-wing media.