Sajid Iqbal

Ssajidiqbalajid Iqbal is the BBC’s leading expert on UK Islamic networks and South Asian militant groups. His research has highlighted links between supposedly mainstream Islamic groups in Britain and organisations involved in human rights abuses in South Asia. Sajid has been appointed Community Affairs Specialist for BBC News and Current Affairs and takes up the new role in February 2017.

He is a senior journalist with BBC Urdu however his expertise is regularly sought by BBC domestic outlets such as PanoramaFile on Four  and BBC News at Ten.    

Sajid was the investigative journalist behind a series of BBC reports and radio programmes, broadcast in 2016, on the Deobandi movement - the Islamic network which controls around 40% of UK mosques.  As part of his research Sajid examined a vast archive of jihadist group publications in Urdu, translated the most relevant material and uncovered links from Britain to jihadist and sectarian groups in Pakistan.  His research brought the hidden influence of groups involved in human rights abuses to the attention of the international media: the visit of one of Pakistan’s most violent terrorists, Masood Azhar, to Britain’s most important Islamic seminary; the link between Scotland’s largest mosque and Pakistan’s most violent sectarian group Sipah e Sahaba; and the discovery in a London mosque associated with the interfaith network of leaflets justifying the death penalty for a Muslim minority sect.  He co-produced a two-part documentary series for Radio 4 - The Deobandis  - containing these revelations.  The series was shortlisted for the Prix Europa current affairs prize, a Europe-wide media award.  

For BBC Urdu he edited the diaries of the then schoolgirl, now Nobel Laureate, Malala Yousafzai.  The diaries helped bring to light the situation of young women living in Taliban-dominated Swat.  Sajid reported for the BBC on the excesses of Pakistan’s powerful military, including their role in the forced disappearance of Islamist and nationalist activists. As a reporter in the 1990s for Pakistan’s leading newspaper Dawn, Sajid covered various human rights abuse issues: Shia-Sunni violence, the persecution of the Ahmadiyya community and extra-judicial killings.    

He will use his visiting fellowship at the Centre for the Study of Human Rights to continue his research into the Deobandi trend in Islam with special reference to non-state actors, integration, community cohesion, extremism and the concept of jihad.