Former Extremist Who Battles Extremism : Maajid Nawaz

He had an awakening in prison.

Maajid Nawaz is a former radical Islamist who now devotes his life to battling extremism and anti-Semitism around the world.

Born in the UK to a British Pakistani family, Maajid became radicalized as a young man and joined the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. He traveled to Egypt in 2001 to learn Arabic, and was arrested for being a member of a banned political party. Maajid spent four years in an Egyptian prison, where he was repeatedly tortured.

While he was incarcerated, Maajid read books about human rights, which led to a huge awakening. He left Hizb ut-Tahrir and denounced terrorism. After his release from prison, Maajid returned to the UK, where he published his autobiography, Radical. With two other former Islamists, Maajid founded Quilliam, a counter-extremism think tank.

Maajid condemns extremists on the left and right. He coined the term “Regressive left” to describe people who excuse terrorism for the sake of political correctness. Maajid’s writings have been widely published and he lectures frequently. He is widely regarded as a foremost expert on the roots of radicalism.

For having the humility to change his belief system, and fighting terrorism internationally, we honor Maajid Nawaz as this week’s Thursday Hero.

Meet other inspiring heroes!

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