Maajid Nawaz, the controversial founder of the Quilliam Foundation, says he has begun a hunger strike in protest against the ongoing genocide of the Uyghur Muslim people in East Turkestan.
Nawaz says his goal is to secure a debate in the UK Parliament on the imposition of Maginsky Act style sanctions on individuals who are responsible for gross human rights violations.
He says his hunger strike will continue until a Parliamentary petition reaches 100,000 signatures, qualifying it for consideration for a debate in Parliament.
And he has called for support and action from Muslim organisations, none of which have responded to his call.
Nawaz is the latest in a long line of public figures and organisations who are considered controversial in the Muslim community to come out in support of the Uyghurs.
Although persecution of Uyghur Muslims by China is well-documented and verified, analysts say that Western governments and their supporters’ main interest is targeting China which is considered a rival to Western hegemony.
Maajid Nawaz said: “Genocide against Uyghur Muslims in East Turkestan is currently taking place. Up to two million people are being held in concentration camps. Uyghurs are suffering repression, torture and the plundering of their bodies for spare parts for the organ transplant market.
“The world seems to have turned a blind eye to this abuse. We appear to care more about globalised supply chains, cheap labour and greed than fairness and respect for fundamental human rights. As a result, civil society and our political establishment is at risk of being politically, morally and economically compromised by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
“China has been backed by many Muslim-majority nations: many of them human rights abusers themselves including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Syria. It is therefore up to the citizens of the democratic West to make a stand.”
Calling in particular on Muslim organisations to join in the campaign, he said: “To the Muslim Council of Britain, the Muslim World League and Muslim Aid: please put out a press release asking Muslims to sign the petition. Even a tweet would be better than nothing.”
‘No friend of the Uyghurs’
Since its foundation Nawaz’s Quilliam Foundation has been widely criticised by Muslim organisations for putting the emphasis on extremism within the Muslim community.
On the other hand, Quilliam describes itself as the world’s first counter-extremism organisation which challenges extremism to foster a shared sense of belonging and to advance liberal democratic values.
Commenting on Nawaz’s Uyghur campaign, 5Pillars deputy editor Dilly Hussain said Nawaz is “no friend of the Uyghurs.”
“Where was Maajid Nawaz’s condemnation about the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have been forcibly driven out of their homes and the Muslims of Gaza who have for years been bombarded by the Israeli state? Where was his outrage for the Muslims of Kashmir, the Muslims of Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan when grassroots organisations have been consistent in terms of raising awareness about their plight?
“But all of a sudden Maajid is waging a Twitter jihad against the Chinese government. And it just happens to coincide with the neocon agenda against China, the new economic Cold War that is taking place.”
Hussain added: “Many Muslims believe that Maajid Nawaz and the Quilliam Foundation have been for many years been pushing a soft countering violent extremism strategy which when compared to China’s current policy is very similar in terms of characterising, demonising and criminalising certain aspects of normative Islam.
“Maajid Nawaz and the Quilliam Foundation have consistently over the years labelled many Muslim scholars and organisations as ‘non violent extremists’ and those tropes have been used by the government to push anti-terrorism policies.”