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Former EDL Organizer and Jihadist Shake Hands

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An EDL protest in London 2013 (Photo: David Holt/Flickr)
An EDL protest in London 2013 (Photo: David Holt/Flickr)

Ex-jihadist Manwar Ali and former English Defense League (EDL) organizer Ivan Humble would have at one point seen each other as enemies. At one point in their lives, they both carried extreme views.

However, a “super-mosque” brought the two men together in dialogue and understanding. Rumored plans to convert an old church in Ipswich into a mosque led Humble to challenge Manwar, who de-escalated the situation by revealing that the facility was to be converted into an inclusive community center.

Over the next few months, the former jihadist and the EDL organizer continued their conversations, arriving at an unlikely understanding of the other.

Humble shares his radically honest journey toward and away from the EDL  with The Forgiveness Project (see also video below):22256asd21

“It all started for me when the radical Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary and eight other Muslims known as ‘Butchers of Basra’ interrupted a homecoming parade of troops in Luton. While the police were protecting Choudary, I watched as two people protesting against him were arrested. It incensed me, along with many others. The EDL was formed that day.”

He goes on to talk about his own personal life circumstances that made the EDL’s mission and work a central focus in his life. The EDL became Humble’s surrogate community. Yet ironically, his organizing efforts for the EDL brought him to meet the jihadist turned reformist Muslim who rejects what Anjem Choudary represents: Manwar Ali.

 

Ali is a scholar and the founder of a Muslim educational charity. He now works on programs with the U.K.’s Home Office, but at one point in his life, he was a jihadist. After he was radicalized and recruited, he fundraised for Islamist extremists and fought in Afghanistan, Kashmir and Burma. Says Ali:

“For a long time, I lived for death…[I was] ill-informed, ignorant and misinterpreting [the Quran]. Through life, other people’s charity, accommodations and good will, I’ve managed to come to a better place.”

Ali’s story reminds us that each individual has worth and something useful to say. In his case, as in so many others, being discounted is what made him feel frustrated and undermined.

It’s an especially important message given the increased sociopolitical polarity pushing people away from community, along with the realities of being censored, de-platformed or otherwise blacklisted if you don’t carry politically correct, mainstream views.

Watch his story:

 

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Shireen Qudosi

Shireen Qudosi is Clarion Project's National Correspondent.

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