Na’eem Jeenah

President of the Muslim Youth Movement

Na’eem, who works for the Freedom of Expression Institute in Johannesburg, is president of the Muslim Youth Movement, coordinator/imam of the Brixton Mosque and a well-known international solidarity and anti-globalisation activist.

It might seem that Na’eem was seriously confused in his younger years – he did three years of medicine, a year of computer science, became a computer programmer, meandered through jobs with the media and NGOs, including the Congress of South African Trade Unions, and then did a master’s degree in religious studies at Wits. Now he is finalising a PhD in political studies, also at Wits University, and is as focused as an expensive Japanese camera lens.

Detractors may well ask whether there is not some contradiction between his day job and his religion. “Not so,” says Na’eem. “Freedom is a core Islamic value and, in my view, freedom of expression is crucial to the well-being and growth of all societies. Islam doesn’t easily separate the sacred from the secular, and from an Islamic perspective, freedom of expression applies in both realms.”

Lunch Spot: My office