Maajid Nawaz V Talib Kweli


It’s been an interesting day or two for Maajid Nawaz of the anti-extremism think tank Quilliam. We learned via Nawaz’s Facebook page that he’d had a run in with a number of Islamist thugs in London:


Keep in mind, Nawaz is a Muslim who is a staunch opponent of Islamic extremism and spends his time championing human rights and secularism for all. The fact that doing so in 2016’s London from within the Muslim community carries such risks demonstrates that the problem is worse than most care to understand.

Upon reading this, I figured that if Maajid and his fellow Quilliam associates can make theocrats this upset, then they must be doing something right. As a result, I decided to double my monthly contribution to Quilliam. I would urge you to consider supporting Quilliam here.

From far right extremists on the streets of London one moment, to far left regressives on Twitter the next. I’d never heard of Talib Kweli until I crossed paths with him on Twitter a few months back, but he’s a famous American rapper apparently. And utterly clueless.

His greatest hits include:

Patronising Muslims as ‘poor brown people’ and generalising them as ‘Arabs’



When asked to give an example of Islamophobic murder in the United States, he provided the below:


Two points:

  1. Rochdale is in the North Of England
  2. The imam was killed by a Muslim.

He also believes that you have no right to talk about the problems within the Muslim world unless you are a Muslim yourself, yet doesn’t see the hypocrisy in banging on about ‘white supremacy’ all day.


And lastly, American exceptionalism. Talib reduces the global problem of Islamic extremism to just one country – his own.



Anyone who doesn’t agree with Talib’s take on things is automatically branded a ‘white supremacist’ to his one million strong Twitter audience. Author Michael Sherlock has documented his experience of this on his website.

This is a man who was raised in an affluent area of New York to a professor of law mother and University administrator father. He enjoyed the privilege of an expensive education and now earns millions rapping, yet preaches about ‘white privilege’ to any white detractor on Twitter. This brings me to today’s shenanigans.

Given I’m an ignorant, privileged, white non-Muslim who has no business opining on these issues, just how keen is Kweli to listen to those ‘poor brown’ Muslims he’s so concerned for? Well, not very it seems.

Talib was engaging in his favourite pastime of pin the tail on the white supremacist, this time taking aim at Sam Harris:


Anyone who follows the work of Sam Harris will know he is friends with Maajid Nawaz and collaborated on a book with him about Islamic reform. Oh, and isn’t a white supremacist.

Nawaz, upon seeing his collaborator and friend denigrated as a ‘white supremacist’ by Kweli, sent the following tweet:


Talib responded thus:


There we have it. Nawaz is instantly denigrated as a ‘fuck boy’ and told he ‘demonizes’ Islam. This should go some way into revealing just what a champion Talib is for the non-white Muslim voice. It’s especially dangerous given that accusing a Muslim of ‘demonizing Islam’ is a dog whistle to Islamic extremists. People are killed for this in Islamic countries.

Nawaz has to explain that Muslims kill more Muslims than anyone else:


And also that he has been a victim of racial hatred himself:


Let’s just take stock of what is happening here. A non-white, Muslim victim of racial violence is trying to explain a few things to the millionaire rapper non-Muslim about his experience and faith. A millionaire rapper who enjoys the perception of caring about precisely this type of person.

His response? To entirely strip Nawaz of his agency:


Nawaz hits the nail on the head in response to Kweli’s soft bigotry of low expectations:


Talib doesn’t care about Muslims, as demonstrated by his absolute disdain towards Nawaz. He simply wants people to think he cares about Muslims. I doubt the countless Muslims suffering under Islamist fascism would be impressed with his virtue signals.

UPDATE Aug 20 2016

After reading this blog, it appears Talib Kweli, in a desperate attempt to denigrate me further must have  typed something like ‘Godless Spellchecker Muslim Bigotry’ into Google. The below result was enough for him to once again call me ‘racist’ to his one million followers:


Unfortunately for Kweli, he has suffered a catastrophic failure of reading comprehension. The above passage (as is clear if you actually read it) is my own writing. I’m actually criticising someone who I personally exposed as a racist, anti-Muslim bigot.

When this error was pointed out to Kweli, he doubled down and pretended he actually meant to share the below:


It’s amusing that Kweli would dig out my tweet mocking the cheapening of the word ‘racist’ and use it to tell me I’m racist.

You can listen to my discussion with Maajid Nawaz on anti-extremism and Islamic reform below.

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.


  • Talib is a disgrace. In a sane world this kind of dishonest sliminess would be an egregious waste of your (and Maajid’s, and countless other’s) intellect and time.

  • Man he wrote an amazing album with Hi-Tek but this just makes me lose all respect in the guy.

  • This is like when his Black Star comrade Mos Def got his ass handed to him by Hitchens on real time. It kind of makes me a bit sad. How can someone so brilliant behind the mic be so clueless in the real world?

  • Thank you for sharing this. In future could you please link images of tweets to actual tweets on twitter so we can respond? Would like to respond on twitter but can’t at the moment (I am another of the brown people that takes issue with this Talib eejit. By his definition only trans people can fight for trans rights/ only LGBTIQ can fight for LGBTIQ rights and so on ad infinitum. Anyone else daring to do so is a ‘supremacist’.. Absolute trash.

  • Do we actually know the person on that account is Talib Kweli though?
    I just do not believe it’s really him
    He’s a multimillionaire celeb hip-hop star, yet he seems to have time to Twitter war 24/7?
    I’ve monitored his Tweets, he is seriously at it ALL DAY and ALL NIGHT long
    My best guess is, he’s giving people (as in multiple) affiliated with Black Lives Matter access to the account to use to drum up support and to stir racial / religious tension

    • Excellent observation, 24/7 tweeting makes me wonder what else he does. But I don’t even think it’s BLM behind it, more like Nation of Islam thinking. Black supremacy sort of.

      Has Talib ever debated anyone outside Twitter?

    • Stephen Knight

      It’s a verified account. You have to provide ID. It’s him. He’s simply very unintelligent

  • Wow, I did not realize what an asshole Talib Kweli is! Intellectually dishonest and just plain wrong. So sad. Plus his music really blows.

  • For the whole article I was cringing that someone was telling an ex-radical he didn’t understand radical Islam. Maajid was once touted by ANJEM CHOUDARY while operating in HT, and once said the deaths in 9/11 were justified in response to Madeline Albright’s dead kids (obviously this is apologized for in his book Radical which I am slightly over halfway into). The idea that he is used by white supremacists when he has clearly expressed his issues with both the alt-right along with the regressive left is especially ridiculous, seeing as to how the former was a guiding force to practicing radical Islam in the first place.

  • Truly brutal. Black Star album honestly one of the best ever IMHO. Reflections Eternal also excellent but probably both are ruined for me. This is like when Kramer lost his mind and went off about stringing up black people. How do you watch a Seinfeld episode and not think of that? As a Jewish person who is highly critical of the Israeli settlements, I see strong parallels between the unrestrained and indiscriminate use of the term “antisemitic” in the context of challenging any criticism of Israel and that of “racist” or “islamophobic” in the present context. Both uses dilute the terms they are abusing and stifle productive discourse. Huge bummer, basically. Who can get Kweli to see reason here before he does more damage?

  • Talib is nothing more than a Black Supremacist. Oh and a fraud. He is also a fraud.

  • kristina andström

    Is he selling poorly or why is he whipping up a campaign like this?

  • I believe we’re seeing so called “intersectionality” in action.

    You oppressed? Me oppressed too! You therefore correct.

  • You had me at “doubled my contribution to Quilliam”. They are the one organisation I give money to regularly (despite being in a low income bracket). Maajid and his associates do amazing, important and courageous work. I’m not a Muslim (must be a racist Islamophobe then, I guess), but I am of Pakistani heritage, so their work is doubly important to me.

  • I used to be a regressive TYT devotee, and the loonwatch site that Talib cited actually followed me on Twitter back then.

  • This Talib clown doesn’t have a very high opinion of his followers. He thinks they’re too stupid and lazy to bother to look up those tweets, so he can just put “racist” and “gspellchecker” into Google, put up a link, and declare it proof of racism, and his followers will just brainlessly nod in agreement.

    Unfortunately, his assessment of his own followers is probably correct.

  • His lyrics speak of social injustice, but focus on white oppression of coloured people and the poor state of affairs for people of colour. As such, his “social justice” is very limited and it’s no surprise that when challenged to consider a wider justice he shows an inability to see outside of the echo-chamber of his life.

    If someone seriously wants to make the world a better place, then they have to have empathy for everyone. Of course, like feminism, one can focus on a particular group but, like some feminists, not lose sight of the egalitarian ideals behind the word “justice”. “Black lives matter” is an entirely justified focus within the “all lives matter” principle.

    What Talib has failed to do (so far) is surround himself with a broader set of views. If he studied people with whom he disagrees and learnt about who they are and what they are saying (as opposed to what he thinks they are saying), then his apparent wish for justice, progression, and peace would be more inclusive.

    It’s sad that a person with so many followers has such a negative influence on society by spewing ignorance and division. His life could be:
    1) A cynical ploy to make money from a loyal fan base and fuck justice and equality. (Not sure how much of a philanthropist he is.)
    2) A genuine desire for justice hampered by limited experience.
    3) A genuine desire for justice hampered by intellect.

    Given that his music is liked by many, and artists have been known to change the world, if 2) were true, he could stop, read philosophy, engage with the world’s leading critical thinkers, and then return to his musical roots with, hopefully, a broader and more inclusive perspective. He certainly has the money and influence to open doors, but does he have the humility to try and learn and accept that he may not know as much as he thinks he does?

    At the moment, his music, although possibly profound, is just bitching about how bad it is for some, but offering no solutions or ideas for change.

    My 2 cents.

  • The level of stupidity on display here is astonishing… How has Mr. Kweli not won a Darwin Award yet?

    • I feel a little bit sorry for Talib. Though he’s done very well for himself, he’s clearly the dim bulb in a family of achievers, so his rage is probably related to that fact.

      The one bright spot in this whole business for me has been the discovery of the work of his genuinely intelligent brother, Constitutiional Law Professor Jamal Greene.

      I noticed Talib tweeting somebody’s brother’s disagreement as a way of discrediting their arguments, but there’s no way that Jamal would be co-signing Talib’s bullshit.

  • Disappointed in Talib Kweli’s infantile responses here. Whilst I am very concerned about racism in America and elsewhere, Maajid Nawaz is not the cause. And whilst hatred of Muslims as people is deplorable, that should not always be conflated with critcism of violent ideologies and fundamentalism.

  • Kweli’s antisemitism (By the way, he uses/used the name “Green” at the end of his name, but seems not to, now)…..

What do you think? Leave some comments!