Tim Bowes on Maajid Nawaz

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I wanted to fillet Johann Hari’s article in which he interviews three leading members of the Quilliam clique plus Anjem “Andy” Choudhary, but never having known them and always being far from the centre of all things HT — Newham and then SOAS (I was at Coulsdon College and then went on to Aberystwyth, and HT/Muhajiroun had no presence in either place) — I don’t really know enough to rebut it except to say that their version of, say, the murder of that Nigerian student differs with the version that many other Muslim students who were there at the time offer, and that I can’t really believe that they called the Nigerian Christians niggers when they were pushing the universality and non-racism of Islam rather than an Asian-centred village Islam. But Timothy Bowes did know Maajid Nawaz, and certainly didn’t know him as a jihadi but as a bore who was convinced of the power of argument.

Johann Hari’s interview with Andy reveals more about himself than about his subject. He does not even entertain the idea (or doesn’t seem to) that Andy is an agent provocateur or suggest that he is trying to whip up non-Muslims against Muslims for their own nefarious ends, whatever they may be. His last gambit reminds me of Keith Allen with the Kansas “anti-smoking brigade”: he goes too far in trying to provoke his subject, but the subject, rather than producing the desired explosion, simply terminates the interview:

He begins to ask – jabbing his finger – what my alternative is. “In the United States, bestiality is legal in the privacy of your own home,” he says. Paedophiles are rampant, with the Man-Boy Love Association on the brink of success. Compare that with the 1,300-year long caliphate. In all those years, he says, “there were only 60 rapes”.

Do you really believe that if people are not suppressed by a tyrant-God, they will become paedophiles and start fucking animals? Are you so rotten inside? Does Anjum fear Andy that much?

He stares at me, flat and emotionless now. “That is your last question,” he says. And as I leave and look back at him through the glass, jabbering on his phone and daydreaming of annihilation, I realise how far all my interviewees – and new friends – have travelled.

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