The hypocrisy of Maajid Nawaz’s critics is hard to swallow

Those who have denounced Nawaz for his strip club visit are not usually so concerned for women's rights


Can you be a feminist and visit a strip club?

That is the question some people are asking after footage obtained by the Daily Mail showed Maajid Nawaz, the Lib Dem candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn and co-founder of the Quilliam Foundation, on camera allegedly harassing a dancer in a strip club.

The Mail has described Maajid as a married father-of-one, but it is worth pointing out that he was not married at the time. His child is from a previous marriage. He got married in October and the ‘stag do’ took place in July. His wife, Rachel Maggart, took to Twitter to defend her husband and said she was fully aware of his actions.

Yesterday Maajid took to Twitter again to blast the ‘hatchet job’ against him.

It would seem as if a Muslim can own and manage a strip club, just cannot visit one. The club owner Abdul Malik said he wanted the video to be seen by the public because of the way Nawaz portrays himself as a feminist and a family man:

“He’s always talking about religion on TV and I thought, what a hypocrite,” he said.

Mr Malik claimed ‘arrogant’ Nawaz acted like a ‘spokesman for Islam’ but visited the club during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Thank goodness we had Mr Malik defending the honour of Islam and the dancers in his club. So concerned was he that he waited nine months before speaking out. The timing of this story is very suspicious. Why wait until now to release the video footage unless the intention was to damage Maajid’s political campaign?

Maajid has openly said he is a ‘non devout Muslim‘ and he has said on several occasions that there are no spokespeople for Muslims. But he does still identify as a Muslim. As a friend of mine told me upon hearing of the scandal:

“You can never escape the Islam police. Like being caught with a Marlboro light as a teenager by a friend of your third cousin’s neighbour. And suddenly it’s all around the community that you are a chain smoking junkie. Its that – amplified.”

Whatever you think about strip clubs, it was very stupid of Maajid to have gone to one, and in East London of all places. He is fighting an election; he should have known better and he has handed a gift to his enemies on a plate.

His spokesperson said he denied touching the dancer ‘inappropriately’ and added that his reputation for advocating women’s rights was ‘in the context of Islamic extremism’. What does that mean? This needs clarifying.

The frustrating part of the strip club controversy is the hypocrisy. Maajid’s enemies are suddenly declaring ‘concern’ for the vulnerable women in the sex industry and discussing issues of consent.

Yet some of these are the same people who, for example, would not challenge the Muslim scholars who refuse to condemn domestic violence or female genital mutilation. The same people who were happy to blame Western culture for the groomers who sexually abused and exploited children. Any woman who does not conform to their standard of Islamic modesty are treated with contempt.

Take Dilly Hussain, deputy editor of 5 Pillars, who has been enjoying the drama unfold. He was exposed last year for comments towards a blogger of Muslim origin whose timeline he stalked, then copied and pasted pictures of her (which had been edited) with the words ‘pisshead, drunken liberal garbage’. He also apparently views Ahmadi Muslims as lower than monkeys.

Opinion is divided over this story. Some deem it not to be newsworthy because visiting a strip club is what most men do – what’s the big deal? – and others, including Tory Nadine Dorries, have called for Maajid to resign.

I’ll be honest – Maajid’s behaviour has really disappointed me; I expected better from him. Perhaps that is my own issue, because I place too much faith in people and will inevitably be let down when they fail to live up to my (impossibly high?) standards.

At the end of the day, though, it is up to the public to make up their own minds over this story. Those who support Maajid can only hope that the accusations of harassment are revealed to be tabloid sensationalism. I doubt this will make much difference to his chances in Hampstead and Kilburn, as the odds of him winning that seat were slim anyway.

But has it damaged his reputation in the long run? Maajid’s work is indispensable; it would be a shame if this were to distract us from the good work he has done.

Iram Ramzan is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter

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60 Responses to “The hypocrisy of Maajid Nawaz’s critics is hard to swallow”

  1. damon

    I don’t believe its a ”legitimate” job at all. I’m not sure if it should be legal or not really, but the women who do it are part of some kind of exploitation process too. Who is exactly exploiting who though I’m not sure. I’m going to work this afternoon to drive a truck about and will earn about £60.
    On Monday I was doing heavy lifting bringing pallets of goods into grocery shops. Enough to make my back feel a bit knackered at the end of the day.
    If I’d been foolish enough to go to a lap dancing club and hand that money over to a woman who danced about around me for fifteen minutes, who who be exploiting who?
    I think the lap dancer would be getting the better deal and the person who’d actually grafted for the money would be the mug. The thing about ”inappropriate touching” is just a joke IMO.
    Its a bit like some porn video arcades I saw in Los Angeles some years ago that had mirrors in the corner of the little booths where people watched porn, but there were no doors on the cubicles.
    And there were warning signs on the walls saying ”No masturbating” and that the premises was patrolled by the police who would watch people in the booths to make sure they weren’t doing that.
    Lap dancing is a rotten invention and I can’t respect this Quillium guy any more the way I did before. He’s a bit like that Tory who sent naked pictures of himself to someone he thought was an online admirer. He got laughed out of Parliament.

  2. zak

    The women’s rights isn’t even the issue, its the fact he goes on TV ‘representing’ the Muslim community when in fact he is barely a Muslim, being drunk and at a strip club in ramadan is about as low as you can go, he is a hypocritical arrogant uncle tom, being liberal is a by word for completely abandoning your faith in this day and age, so good luck to him, but don’t go representing a community that it is clear from your actions you are no part of.

  3. Guest

    “Jobs are not jobs when I say so”. And you’d make quite a few last-resort jobs illegal, right, criminalising women.

    Keep talking about one small portion of your high income, while you moralise about women who you want to go sleep on the streets.

  4. MorganCourtenay

    I don’t agree with everything Maajid says, and he has the right to frequent whatever seedy establishment he wishes, but hardly anyone is talking about the religious identity of the strip club owner.

  5. Ahmed

    Maajid is a hypocrite, some of those condemning Maajid are hypocrites and some of those defending Maajid are hypocrites. That’s an awful lot of hypocrisy in your little circle.

  6. Ulysses Jefferson

    Hey, Mr Malik, like most religious folks who ‘follow’ their book – when it suites ’em – you’re a hypocrite and pathetic. Good on Mrs Nawaaz too for speaking up!

  7. Ulysses Jefferson

    They can call the organisation anything they want, can’t they? I know a pub called The End of the World, but it ain’t really, otherwise the trades descriptions people would be onto ’em.

  8. Ortega

    They can call the organisation anything they want, can’t they?
    Why does everything have to become an issue of freedom of speech? Do you really think I’m saying they shouldn’t be allowed to name their organisation what they want?
    My point was it seems really weird to say your organisation isn’t religious and then name it after some obscure character (most British muslims have probably never even heard of Abdullah Quilliam) who’s historical significance is based ENTIRELY on his religion and nothing else. I don’t under stand the logic behind the choice of name.

  9. Penfold187

    It is clear from your rambling and curious statement you are not a follower of the deen…

    People are many things all at the same time, friend, lover, fighter, father, brother, caretaker, confidant and so much more both light and dark! We all make mistakes, how we address those mistakes is the mark of us. You hold that mistakes made by many of your brothers and condoned by your community, should be decried in the case of Maajid, because he is not the right kind of Muslim. Who is the hypocrite?

  10. Lion Roar

    He doesn’t represent the Muslim view, never has & never will, Majid Nawaz has sold his soul for worldly pleasures & is just a puppet being used to brain wash Muslim youths into his interpretation of Islam which is totally bogus, I however agree with some of his views which any huma being would agree with but watch out Muslims he’s a rat more than anything else.

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