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The Quilliam Foundation has closed but its toxic legacy remains News about Islamophobia


News that the Quilliam Foundation, a closed, anti-extremist ideological organization, has been welcomed by many – especially Muslims, who have long been targeted by harmful activities of this organization. On April 9, one of its founders, Maajid Nawaz, announced on Twitter that the decision was made due to “difficulty in maintaining a nonprofit during Covid’s lockdown”.

Although the fund has been in financial trouble over the past few years, there has been some speculation that Nawaz flirting with Q-Anon’s conspiracy theories about the US election and Donald’s election failure. Trump may have contributed to internal divisions and the decision to shut down. .

Despite the relief many of us feel, this organization still leaves behind a toxic legacy that will continue to do harm to the Muslim community in the UK and beyond.

The organization was founded in 2008 by former self-proclaimed extremists and former members of the reactionary organization Hizb ut-Tahirir (HT), Nawaz and Ed Husain. Named after Abdullah Quilliam, it has received funding from the Ministry of the Interior and is aimed at combating radicalization following the July 7 attacks in London.

Instead, for 13 years, Quilliam reinforced the idea that Muslims are a community of suspicions and support harsh “anti-terrorism” policies that are being promoted by the government. Members of this organization make the unproven argument that to combat terrorism, the state must identify and undermine radical ideologies that will lead to acts of terrorism.

This logic gave birth to the British government’s obsession with so-called “nonviolent extremism”. This carousel theory has become the foundation of anti-radicalization policies and serves the normalization of the criminalization of thought rather than action, and is therefore targeted at individuals who do not commit wrongdoing. any crimes but are believed to be in danger of a crime in the future. .

During Quilliam’s time, the anti-radicalism apparatus in Britain became more and more aggressive and spread by penetrating all areas of public life and even private life, with those in the public sector is designed to help detect these obscure extremes. This process has been enthusiastically encouraged by the organization.

In addition, it caused a considerable hatred towards Muslims and racist communities in Britain. For example, in the wake of the child sexual exploitation scandals in Rochdale and other cities, Quilliam released a report asserting that 84% of “grooming gang crimes” are Asian. This was later uncovered by the Interior Department report in which confirmed research found that the “most common white” group offenders.

Unfortunately, much of the damage has been done. As Dr. Ella Cockbain, a researcher on child exploitation, points out in her critique of Quilliam’s report, “the more ‘the grooming gang’ is considered a human problem. In Islam, the more beneficial the ‘anti-extremism’ group of ideas. “

Quilliam is not only confident in making “discovered” claims and disclosing no backup data, but also ruthless in ensuring that it attracts the attention of government and international arena when it comes to referring to Muslims and anti-extremism.

The organization, in taking on its role of defending democracy, tried to tarnish all Muslim groups and collectives because of its association with terrorist ideologies. In fact, it provided the Home Office with a “black list” that included Islamic TV, the Islamic Safety Forum and the Islamic Human Rights Commission.

As a result of these activities, the organization’s reputation in the Muslim communities is rather low; many have approached its work with suspicion. If its members seek to carry out anti-radicalization work among Muslims in Britain, it is very likely that they will be in doubt. However, this was clearly never the intention.

Quilliam’s PR actor with British Defense Federation (EDL) founder Tommy Robinson is a striking example of the extent to which its members have little interest or regard as Muslims. In 2013, the foundation announced that it was working with the far-right leader to help him leave EDL and his anti-Muslim activities; It even held a high-level official press conference on the occasion.

Robinson, who has spent years campaigning people against Muslim communities, targets their mosques and uses them as scapegoats for every possible social, political and economic problem. Imagine, announced to start working with Quilliam. However, just two years later, he established the UK branch of the anti-Muslim, anti-German anti-immigrant group, PEGIDA.

This was not the only deeply problematic association Quilliam had. Among its sponsors, there are quite a few entities and figures of Islamic taboo nature. In 2012, for example, the foundation received $ 75,000 from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, often funding so-called anti-jihadist organizations including the anti-Muslim Freedom Center David Horowitz group.

It also won a grant of more than $ 1 million from the John Templeton Foundation, a conservative organization affiliated with the Tea Party in America and reactionary Christian groups. Its former head, Jack Templeton, sponsored groups that opposed same-sex marriage and defended war in Iraq.

One of Quilliam’s other donors is the character “New Atheist” Sam Harris, who advocates the use of torture and has encouraged the portrayal of Muslim records in calls for “war with Islamic”.

Although Quilliam’s blasphemy work towards the institutionalization of Islamic phobia and the destruction of civil liberties may come to an end, the damage it has inflicted will continue to be felt. It is marked by our anti-extremism policies, in the rhetoric of our politicians, and far-right thugs to whom they have empowered and legalized. their work.

As Dr. Rizwaan Sabir, a criminology lecturer specializing in counterterrorism at Liverpool John Moores University, recently told me, Quilliam’s impact “should not be taken lightly, for them, especially some the organization’s key individuals, who have access to ratings of policymakers, politicians and civil servants and can therefore influence their ideas about security policy and how they perceive it to be. Islamic organizations ”.

Quilliam’s foundation continues to bear fruit through activities against state-led extremism, such as the Deterrent program, profiling and Muslim crime. The threats to our civil liberties continue to worsen as the government pushes for more and more repressive policies, from the expanded Coronavirus Act, to the enactment of the Bill. The Police, Crime, Convictions and Courts try to interfere with our right to object. All of this fell into the state of the securitization of the state, strongly supported by Quilliam.

The government’s narrative normalization and promotion work has been done and it no longer asks Nawaz and his ilk for help in the process. In addition, there are still other neo-conservative thought groups, such as the Henry Jackson Society, that will continue their legacy.

Our focus now should be to completely dismantle the anti-extremism machine that continues to be used to undermine our civil liberties, protect our freedoms and counteract Islamicism. Quilliam has faced years of protests and criticism from a broad coalition of unions, students, teachers, health care professionals, anti-racist activists and politicians. people, who all oppose the strategy of Containment.

It is this vast network that must be strengthened and mobilized. As Islamic laws are passed at an increasing rate across the continent, such mobilization is imperative.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial views of Al Jazeera.



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