OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom — “Fear will breed more fear.” That was the defining message from activist, reformed jihadist and think-tank founder Maajid Nawaz during a powerful address on Friday, December 2, at VOICES, BoF’s first annual gathering for big thinkers in the fashion industry and beyond.
Nawaz focused on the rise of terrorism, populism and a post-Trump, post-Brexit world — by detailing his own harrowing journey. His story began in Essex, just outside of London, where he was a victim of a violent neo-Nazi hate crime at the age of 15. It then moved on to Egypt, where he was a 24-year-old prisoner of conscience in a torture dungeon. As a grown man, Nawaz found himself discussing his experiences with President George W. Bush. “The question I’m here to ask and answer: How does a boy born and raised in Essex end up in those three scenarios?”
Nawaz posited that fear linked to globalisation was at the heart of a deeply uncertain and troubling “new normal” marked by the rise of both radical Islamic terrorism and the nativist, populist movements gaining ground across the Western world, resulting in the UK’s Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump in the US.