Maajid Nawaz has apologised to Muslims and asked for forgiveness for his “harsh words” and “previous errors.”
In a long statement on Facebook, Nawaz said his awakening over the situation of the Uyghurs had profoundly shocked him and had promoted a change of heart.
For over a decade Nawaz and his Quilliam Foundation have been widely criticised by Muslim organisations for targeting the community and putting the emphasis on extremism among Muslims.
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.
In his Facebook apology, Nawaz said: “My dearest Muslim Ummah, this is my apology to you all… I am sorry to all of my family, former family and in-laws, Muslim friends and allies, and to my sincere and genuine shuyukh in and out of Egypt…
“This is because I have neglected so many of you. From now on, I will strive to the best of my ability to protect you and serve you. I am sorry for any previous harsh words and for all previous errors. Please forgive me.
“The genocide against our Uyghur Ummah has shocked me. It has shaken me out of my previous state of misguidance and ignorance. After the genocide of Bosnia that I watched in horror as a teenager, for another genocide against Muslims to go ignored by the world in my lifetime has sparked a fire in me that only those formerly close to me have ever witnessed, except this time my fire is fuelled by love, not revenge.
“My vengeful path took me 15 years, with a 5 year illegal term in an Egyptian prison during the War on Terror. The anger exhausted me, because those who knew me saw that I gave it my all. After that journey ended – rightfully so – in failure, I became the one in need of love for the next decade. It is during this period that I failed some of you. It has taken me this long to recover from the cumulative trauma growing up as a British Muslim-minority community in Essex subjected to racist abuse as children, as teenagers, and then of course later with my fellow call-mates in Egypt, where we witnessed torture in jail.”
Nawaz added that Muslims should let bygones be bygones and should unite to serve the Uyghur cause.
“My beloved family, friends and fellow Muslims in and out of jail. We have seen too much in life. We have suffered too much. We all have. I have no more room left for hate. I no longer feel any pain. I am a seeker of love.
“I forgive any of you who have previously unjustly harmed me. I also beseech your forgiveness for unjustly harming any of you. Our Uyghur Ummah needs us now. Do not let your anger at me or each other confuse us and divide us against an evil that hates us all equally. An evil that spies on our Uyghur Ummah with the One Eye of technology in order to enslave them, for human greed and consumption.”
However, Muslim reaction to Nawaz’s apology on Twitter was overwhelmingly sceptical.
5Pillars editor Roshan Muhammed Salih said: “Just saw this rambling ‘apology’ to Muslims from Maajid Nawaz. I’m afraid it will take more than words after all these years he has targeted us. We need action – the immediate dissolution of Quilliam and a long period of silence on all forms of media would be a start.”
Mohammed Shafiq from the Ramadan Foundation said: “When you talk about #Uighurs but choose to ignore the Palestinians and the Kashmiri people then we know your tears and forgiveness are a con.”
@SahidaRiaz said: “How did Maajid Nawaz manage to make the oppression of the Uighur Muslims all about himself? I’d like to also know his opinion on Israeli organ harvesting and child killings, before making a judgment.”
And @RepiakaMoni said: “Just seen #MaajidNawaz’s pleas to the Muslim ummah. Does this plea mean that he is no longer trying to reform Islam & accepts its perfectness? What is his reason for this plea? He seems crazed to want recognition from Muslims now?”