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“Islam and The Future Of Tolerance” and Sam Harris on Profiling

This is a cross-post from homo economicus by John Sargeant

Not out in the UK till November, we got a taste of what the dialogue between Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz on Islam will be like, at the book launch event at Harvard’s Kennedy Forum, on the 14 September.

Maajid Nawaz is often criticised as having no standing among muslims, because he is not devout. That poses the question whether such critics felt he had more standing when he was active in Hizb-ut-Tahrir trying to spark an islamist coup in countries. Nawaz has been that angry young man, discriminated against, running for his life and very near killed by racist thugs. Then he found a political and religious group that welcomed him and gave him a purpose to stand tall for. Islamism. As a recruiter, he knows from the inside just how it works and how others can provide useful cover to such extremism.

Maajid knows how to distinguish islamism from islam, to an extent that Sam Harris publicly states he has changed his opinions and nuanced his position after their dialogue, which the book recounts for us. That in itself makes it for me a must read. Together with the acclaimed video for #NotAnotherBrother against ISIS, and the recent report on people leaving extremism from islamism or the far right, there is much to learn from the Quilliam Foundation that Nawaz co-founded.

No sooner had the live streamed event (video above) finished, then twitter was awash with extracts from a recent Sam Harris interview, on profiling. Out of context, the quotes as presented had me shaking my head, and remembering Maajid saying that in dialogue we all will say stupid things. Yet when you watch the interview segment on profiling in full (see video below) it shows Sam saying that he needs to be considered a risk at airports (assuming not recognised as a celebrity atheist writer against Jihadism). In short, it should not be based on race or appearance, as much as by age at which people become radicalised to Jihadism.

Do read the rest of the post – and watch/listen to the various clips – over on John’s blog.

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