Sources within the Liberal Democrats have told 5Pillars that Maajid Nawaz’s political career is “over” following revelations that he visited a strip club in July last year, writes Roshan Muhammed Salih.
The sources said that Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg himself considers Nawaz to be “finished” and thinks that his association with the party has done it “a lot of damage” within the Muslim community.
Clegg is thought to have never been enamoured with Nawaz who was championed instead by Lib Dem grandee Paddy Ashdown who himself was the subject of a newspaper sex scandal in the 1990s.
However, given that the deadline for parliamentary candidates has already passed the Lib Dems will allow Nawaz to continue his campaign for the Hampstead and Kilburn seat without putting any effort into actually winning it.
In fact, it’s thought that the national party will give little or no financial backing to Nawaz’s faltering campaign in a seat which is expected to be a close race between the Conservatives and Labour.
Lib Dem support
However, publicly at least the Lib Dems are supporting “their man.”
When contacted by 5Pillars the Lib Dem press office said that the strip club incident was “a private affair” and that he is “still our candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn.”
The press office refused to comment further on what the Lib Dems’ women supporters thought of Nawaz’s antics or whether the scandal had caused any ructions within the party itself.
Meanwhile, after a short break from his usual prolific tweeting activities Nawaz himself was putting on a brave face this morning.
He retweeted messages of support as well as a link to a video where he said he was not “a role model for anyone who is religious.” He also claimed that the Daily Mail had “hatchet-jobbed” him and “breached his privacy.”
Nawaz also seemed to go out of his way to make amends with his wife who he described as “hot,” and he satrically retweeted “Fallacio Hornblower” saying “you’ve gone up in my estimation.”
On Friday night the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) called on the Liberal Democrats to drop Maajid Nawaz as a parliamentary candidate after he was filmed “harassing” a stripper a few months before he got married last year..
Nawaz, who heads the “counter-extremism” think-tank the Quilliam Foundation, was the subject of a Daily Mail story which said he was filmed repeatedly trying to touch a naked lap dancer.
Married father-of-one Nawaz is said to have asked for two private sessions at a strip club in east London. Footage showed the prospective parliamentary candidate – who calls himself an advocate of women’s rights – attempting to touch her arms and thighs, which is against the venue’s policy.
Staff said Nawaz had been pestering the girl all night and his actions had been “outrageous.”
In the film, Nawaz can be seen repeatedly trying to make contact with the girl as she dances naked for him in a private room during two £20 lap dances. Manager Jay Shah, who witnessed Nawaz’s behaviour, said he was “very drunk” and bouncers threatened to throw him out several times.
A spokesman for Nawaz said he denied touching the dancer “inappropriately” and added that his reputation for advocating women’s rights was “in the context of Islamic extremism.” He said he had not been warned about his behaviour, and was not “out of control” through drink or breaching the rules.
The spokesman said: “The evening you refer to was our client’s stag night before his marriage. His best man took him to the gentleman’s club with the full knowledge of our client’s then future wife (now his wife).”
Since he established the Quilliam Foundation 8 years ago Nawaz has highlighted the growth of extremism amongst the British Muslim community while simultaneously down-playing the role of foreign policy and Islamophobia in radicalising Muslims.
He has been given a wide platform to disseminate his message – which chimes with that of the political and media establishment – by means of generous government funding for his organisation and huge mainstream media coverage.
A broad cross-section of opinion within the Muslim community has opposed Nawaz and his rhetoric over the past few years. Many consider him to be a vain attention-seeker whose voice has been artificially amplified by government finances, the BBC and the right-wing media.
Nawaz’s message of “Islamic extremism” and “Islamic reform” has also been trumpeted and exploited by Islamophobes such as the EDL, the Daily Mail and The Sun. In so doing many accuse him of stoking Islamophobia in this country.