How Does An Islamist Extremist Change His Mind?

By NPR/TED Staff

October 25, 2013

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Turning Points.

About Maajid Nawaz's TEDTalk

For more than a decade, Maajid Nawaz recruited young Muslims to an extreme Islamist group. But while serving time in an Egyptian prison, he went through a complete ideological transformation. He left the group, his friends, his marriage for a new life as a democracy advocate.

About Maajid Nawaz

As a teenager, British-born Maajid Nawaz was recruited to an extremist global Islamist organization called Hizb ut-Tahrir, whose goal is to unite all Muslim countries into one caliphate ruled by Islamic law. He spent more than a decade recruiting other young Muslims to the group, until he was imprisoned in Egypt.

Four years later, Nawaz left prison feeling that Hizb ut-Tahrir was hijacking Islam for political purposes. He remained a Muslim, but he was no longer an Islamist.

He recently released a memoir, Radical: My Journey From Islamist Extremism To A Democratic Awakening. His goal now is to help Muslims work for a democratic culture that values peace and women's rights. He heads Quilliam, a think tank that engages in "counter-Islamist thought-generating."

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