Waqar Azmi

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Dr Waqar Azmi OBE
Dr Waqar Azmi OBE.jpg
UK Government's former Chief Diversity Adviser and EU Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue
Personal details
Born 1970

Waqar Azmi OBE is listed in the world's 500 most influential Muslims by Georgetown University,[1]as well as the Asian power 100 list of the most influential Asians in the UK and, the Muslim power 100 List of the most influential Muslims in the UK.[2] He is UK Government’s former Chief Diversity Adviser at the Cabinet Office[3] and EU Ambassador of Intercultural Dialogue.[4] He is founder & chairman of Remembering Srebrenica.[5]

ISIS calls for murder[edit]

ISIS called for the murder of Azmi along with 20 other top Western Muslims leaders including Conservative Party ministers Sajid Javid and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and Hillary Clinton's advisor Huma Abedin in their 2016 online English-language magazine, Dabiq in an article entitled "Kill the imams of kufr in the west", who, according to ISIS, "directly involve themselves in politics and enforcing the laws of kufr (non-believers).[6][7] The article brands Azmi and those on the 'hit list' as “apostate” [8] and urges their murder by encouraging followers in other countries to "wage jihad by himself with the resources available to him (knives, guns, explosives, etc.) to kill the crusaders and other disbelievers and apostates."[9][7]

Early life and career[edit]

Waqar Azmi grew up with his family in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, India, and moved to the UK at the age of 13, speaking no English when he arrived. He attended the University of Central Lancashire, graduating in 1993 with a degree in Politics and Social Policy.

In 2001 he became Managing Director at the world’s largest consultancy firm, TMP Worldwide Advertising and Communications and Monster.com and, chairman of Waterhouse Consulting Group in 2009.[10] Azmi founded the British Federation of Racial Equality Councils,[11] a UK body of racial equality councils and partnerships representing over 100 councils across England, Scotland and Wales.[12] He also founded the think tank Race Equality West Midlands[13] and the Herefordshire Equality Partnership.[14]

Civil service career[edit]

In October 2004, he was appointed as UK Government's Chief Diversity Adviser at the Cabinet Office. He launched the 10-Point Plan on diversity to drive change across Whitehall and for the first time in the UK, linked diversity performance of each government department to the pay and bonus of Permanent Secretaries.[15] The Times wrote: "Azmi raised eyebrows when he announced that the bonuses of permanent secretaries would be linked to their success in meeting the targets".[3] Britain's only Asian Permanent Secretary, Sir Suma Chakrabarti, and a former Minister, Keith Vaz, welcomed the announcement, saying it would accelerate change in the civil service. But Keith Vaz warned: "I'm quite sure there will be resistance to this".[16]

Azmi's work led each government department to prepare a delivery plan and stepped up the pace of change including advertising for open competition the posts of Permanent Secretaries, Ambassadors and other sensitive and top governmental jobs.[3] The Guardian called Azmi "The Equaliser"[17] and The Times called him "Whitehall's diversity champ."[3] Pat McFadden, the then Cabinet Office Minister said in a speech that Azmi was "doing a hugely important job".[18] Other commentators like Paul Zickel writing in The Times said: "Disability in the Civil Service recently moved out of the shadows and into the mainstream. For me, the key driver was the Civil Service-wide ten-point plan developed by Waqar Azmi".[19]

Public inquiries[edit]

Azmi has been involved in several Public Inquiries in the UK. He was also on the Oldham Riots Inquiry which was set up to investigate the riots that occurred in May 2001. He was an open critic of the Inquiry, claiming that under government pressure the Inquiry was steered towards language and citizenship, instead of structural inequalities and the growing influence of far-right groups such as the British National Party (BNP).[20]

Awards, nominations and honorary degrees[edit]

Waqar Azmi received an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2002 at the age of 32 by Her Majesty the Queen in recognition of his major contributions in the UK[21] and in 2003 he was awarded Britain’s Young Asian Achievers Award by Lloyds TSB.[22]

In 2001 Azmi was awarded an Honorary master's degree by the University of Worcester.[23] In 2006 he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree by Southampton Solent University,[24] and later that year, the University of Central Lancashire awarded him an Honorary Fellowship.[25]

In January 2015, Azmi was nominated for the Spirit of Britain award at the British Muslim Awards.[26]

Views on extremism[edit]

The Times of India wrote: "After he had finished delivering an inspiring speech at a career fest last week, Dr Waqar Azmi was almost mobbed by the crowd. It seemed like the Muslim gathering had waited for a long time for someone like him".[27] Speaking to a Muslim audience of 150,000 (Urdu/Hindi: 1.5 lakh people) [28] in Mumbai, he "slammed those who killed innocent people in the name of Islam. "Evil has taken over the hearts of those who maim innocent children, blow up houses and kill people. It is our duty to help purify those dirty hearts," he said. A section of Muslims had gone astray as they had left the Prophet's message behind, he said. "We must illuminate the hearts of those misguided."[29]

Azmi sees globalisation as an opportunity for greater integration and understanding. He cites the Prophet's choices in the initial days of Islam: "He could have tried to destroy all non-Muslims in Medina; commanded everyone to become a Muslim; or chosen the path of integration. He chose the last option and invited everyone, including Jews and Christians, to the society he formed. The problem surfaces when, instead of integration, Muslims want to colonise. They want to create a separate society.[27]"

Azmi also believes that Muslims themselves are largely responsible for the problems and challenges that exists in their communities due to a lack of education, activism and effective leadership: "Muslims have become reactionary rather than responding forces," he says. "Reaction leads to friction and destruction while responding paves the way for reconciliation and peace. When controversies erupt over cartoons or films on the Prophet, I tell Muslims there is no image of the Prophet. So any cartoon or film depicting him will be fake. Why fight over a fake depiction? When Muslims react violently, they play into the hands of forces that want to incite the community and paint it as reactionary".[27]


  1. ^ Prof. John Esposito and Prof. Ibrahim Kalin (2009) The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World, page 144, Georgetown University: The Royal Islamic Strategic Stdies Centre & The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, http://themuslim500.com/downloads/2009-low.pdf
  2. ^ [1] Archived October 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b c d Frances Gibb Legal Editor. "The Times | UK News, World News and Opinion". Business.timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved October 20, 2011. (subscription required)
  4. ^ "DG EAC – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue (2008) – Dr. Waqar Azmi OBE". Interculturaldialogue2008.eu. Retrieved October 20, 2011. 
  5. ^ Jo Siedlecka, Friday, July 12, 'Archbishop Nichols speaks at Remembering Srebrenica memorial day', London: Independent Catholic News, http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=22939
  6. ^ Tom Evans, 14 April 2016 'Tory ministers targeted by ISIS in sickening kill hitlist', London: Daily Star: http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/508141/ISIS-kill-list-Dabiq-targets-Sayeeda-Warsi-Sajid-Javid-Huma-Abedin-Keith-Ellison
  7. ^ a b "Kill the Imams of the West" (PDF). Dabiq 1437 Rajab (April - May 2016). Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (14): 8–18. Retrieved 2016-04-30. Lastly, one must not overlook the overt crusaders, those who don’t even wear the cloak of da’wah, but instead directly involve themselves in politics and enforcing the laws of kufr, like (in the US) Mohamed Elibiary, Arif Alikhan, Rashad Hussain, Keith Ellison, Huma Abedin, etc. and (in the UK) Muhammad Abdul Bari, Sayeeda Warsi, Waqar Azmi, Sajid Javid, Ajmal Masroor, and other politically active apostates..(p. 17) 
  8. ^ 5Pillars, 14 April 2016, 'ISIS publishes “hit list” of British and Western Muslim leaders', London: 5 Pillars: http://5pillarsuk.com/2016/04/14/isis-publishes-hit-list-of-british-and-western-muslim-leaders/
  9. ^ Emily Collis, 15 April 2016, 'Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid named on ISIS kill list', Bromsgrove Advertiser: http://www.bromsgroveadvertiser.co.uk/news/14430024.Sajid_Javid_named_on_ISIS_kill_list/
  10. ^ "Waterhouse Consulting Group". Waterhouseconsulting.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  11. ^ "British Federation of Racial Equality Councils". Bforec.co.uk. 2001-04-25. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  12. ^ "British Federation of Racial Equality Councils". Bforec.co.uk. April 25, 2001. Retrieved October 20, 2011. 
  13. ^ [2] Archived May 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ [3] Archived May 23, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ "/ UK – Breaking down barriers to top jobs in Whitehall". Financial Times. November 1, 2005. Retrieved October 20, 2011. (subscription required)
  16. ^ Tania Branigan, political correspondent (November 1, 2005). "Meet diversity targets or risk cut in bonuses, civil servants warned | Politics". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved October 20, 2011. 
  17. ^ Mary O'Hara (October 13, 2004). "Public manager: Waqar Azmi, Whitehall's new adviser on diversity | Society". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved October 20, 2011. 
  18. ^ Cabinet Office (2007) 'Informing the Public Speech by Pat McFadden, Cabinet Office Minister Joint Event with Howell James, Permanent Secretary Government Communications', page 6, London: Cabinet Office, http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130128101412/http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/cabinetoffice/corp/assets/publications/speeches/mcfadden/rtf/informing_public.rtf
  19. ^ Frances Gibb Legal Editor. "The Times | UK News, World News and Opinion". Business.timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved October 20, 2011. (subscription required)
  20. ^ "UK | England | Riot report is 'flawed'". BBC News. May 27, 2002. Retrieved October 20, 2011. 
  21. ^ "In Depth | Birthday Honours 2002 | OBEs A – M". BBC News. June 14, 2002. Retrieved October 20, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Asian Jewel Awards – 2003 Winners". Jewelawards.tv. Retrieved October 20, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Glittering prizes". Times Higher Education. November 2, 2001. Retrieved October 20, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Portal Mobile". Portal-live.solent.ac.uk. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  25. ^ "Honorary Fellows – University of Central Lancashire". Uclan.ac.uk. September 4, 2007. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved October 20, 2011. 
  26. ^ "British Muslim Awards 2015 finalists unveiled". Asian Image. 23 January 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2015. 
  27. ^ a b c "Don't be 'reactionary', Blair adviser tells Muslims". Times Of India. 2012-12-23. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  28. ^ "Sunni leaders preach tolerance, purity to 1.5 lakh attendees on final day of Ijtema". Hindustan Times. 2012-12-17. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  29. ^ "Sunni conference asks Muslims to shun violence". Times Of India. 2012-12-17. Retrieved 2013-02-22.