Maajid Nawaz calls for open dialogue amid Millwall racism allegations

6 December 2020, 16:05 | Updated: 6 December 2020, 16:18

By Seán Hickey

Following a group of football fans booing players taking the knee at a match on Saturday, Maajid Nawaz argued the motivations of those involved must be heard before branding anyone racist.

Maajid Nawaz declared: "I know what happens with racism, I know what Millwall's reputation is, and I still refuse to become the monster I'm seeking to defeat"

He insisted that before people jump to conclusions about the action, they must first "understand what people are trying to say without having the language."

Maajid voiced the opinion that the action of Millwall fans is "built on the premise that tactics are not the same as an aim," in other words, fans who booed players for taking a knee are not condemning the anti-racist movement, but rather the views of the organisation Black Lives Matter and their political beliefs, and how their movement has seeped into sport.

Maajid employed an example: "You're throwing a book about anti-racism in the bin - does that make you a racist? Or does it mean you don't like my book?"

He called on those branding the fans as racist to "stop dividing the world in this crude and black and white way."

Millwall fans could be heard booing players who took a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement
Millwall fans could be heard booing players who took a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Picture: Getty

"The fans might be racist, but actually, I've got to acknowledge that in reality in our white working classes there's a growing frustration that not only fed the Brexit debate but also fed the Trump phenomenon."

He went on: "If they weren't throwing bananas or making monkey noises, then why are we saying that their booing was an act of racism when actually what they're booing is a tactic of anti-racism and not the anti-racism itself"

Maajid called on listeners to "stop stereotyping and generalising the other in the name of righteousness just because we think we're right and they're wrong," because he felt it defeats the purpose of condemning racism. "We're treating them in exactly the same way we complain they're treating us - by generalising them."

"We've all got to calm down a bit and stop labelling each other."