This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3822
January 20, 2009
MIM: For more on the Quilliam Foundation see:
UK Stealth Islamists Turned Counter Extremism Advisors Blame Israel For Muslim Violence Against Jews http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3805
Why Is Anyone Listening to Maajid Nawaz? Ex - Terrorist trades violent for stealth jihad
Government gives £1m to anti-extremist think-tank Quilliam Foundation
(Chris Harris/The Times)
Maajid Nawaz and Ed Husain say they are countering extremist ideology coming out of mosques and madrassasRichard Kerbaj
Almost £1 million of public money is being given to a think-tank run by two former Islamic extremists, despite reservations being expressed by members of the Government and the Opposition.
The funding is for the Quilliam Foundation — a counter-extremism think-tank set up nine months ago by Ed Husain, a bestselling author, and Maajid Nawaz, a former political prisoner in Egypt — as part of the Government's strategy to combat the radicalisation of British Muslims.
The scale of the funding has aroused concerns that the Government is relying too heavily on a relatively unknown organisation in its desperation to counter extremism.
The Times understands that the foundation, which has 18 full-time staff, is paying about £110,000 a year to rent offices at one of Central London's most prestigious addresses, which, for security reasons, have no name plate or sign outside. Inside, the offices are expensively furnished with state-of-the-art computers and plasma screen televisions.
Mr Husain and Mr Nawaz, the organisation's directors, are believed to be receiving salaries of about £85,000 each a year. The foundation refused to discuss individual earnings.
Doubts have been expressed by Labour and Conservative MPs as to whether the investment will produce results.
Patrick Mercer, the Tory MP who heads the House of Commons counter-terrorism sub-committee, said: "It will be very interesting to see what has been achieved with this considerable sum of public money."
One government minister said that the size of the grant was outrageous, adding that Britain had become home to an "ex-Islamist industry".
A senior Conservative adviser familiar with the foundation's work said: "The question here is, how are they going to use the money they've been given and how effective will their proposed projects be in delivering value for money?"
In this financial year, the foundation has received £660,000 from the Home Office and £140,000 from the Foreign Office. The Home Office has earmarked an additional £100,000 for 2009-10.
Sources close to the foundation said that it was expecting another £660,000 from the Foreign Office over this and next year. A Foreign Office spokesman said that any future payments depended on the foundation making "satisfactory progress".
Mr Husain, 34, and Mr Nawaz, 31, have come a long way since their days as members of the radical Islamic political group Hizb ut-Tahrir.
The duo travel the world to lecture on the threat of Islamist ideology. Mr Husain's autobiography The Islamist has sold 87,000 copies, although he insisted that he received only 12p per copy sold on top of his £4,000 advance. He is working on a second book.
Mr Husain said that Islamism was an ideology that could be defeated only by those who were once a part of it. "If it is becoming an industry, it's a good one and let's have more people on it," he said.
Mr Nawaz refused to say how much rent the think-tank paid, but said it was "cheaper than Westminster".
The Quilliam Foundation says that it is working to tackle the extreme Islamist ideology coming out of mosques, universities and madrassas in countries such as Syria and Pakistan. It also advises police and security agencies on counter-extremism methods and is to release its findings next month on an inquiry into British mosques, followed by the publication of an investigation into Islamic radicalisation in prisons.
The foundation found itself in the spotlight after Mr Husain expressed scathing views on Israeli foreign policy as a result of the Gaza crisis. Some Muslim critics suspect that the Quilliam Foundation's highly publicised call for Gordon Brown to demand an immediate ceasefire was an attempt to win credibility with British Muslims, some of whom have accused Mr Husain and his organisation of being pro-Zionist.
Inayat Bunglawala, of the Muslim Council of Britain, dismissed the Quilliam Foundation as a government stooge. "It has very little credibility amongst British Muslims . . . They have fashionably styled themselves as being the UK's first anti-extremism think-tank," he said. "Their recent criticism of the Government concerning Israel's criminal actions in Gaza will not fool many people and is transparently designed to win support from a very sceptical Muslim community."
However, the critical government minister said that the foundation was receiving so much public money because it was perceived to be toeing the government line. "Ed and Quilliam have very little support in the mainstream Muslim community," the minister said. "They have much more enemies than friends. But he's loved by some ministers, which is why his organisation is having so much money thrown at it. And the Government knows that if you want a Muslim to say pro-government things, then Quilliam is the answer."
MIM: Ed Husain the head of the Quilliam Foundation wrote an article blaming Israel and the UK for the war in Gaza.
Below is a response by Melanie Phillips author of "Londinistan". She admits that she was wrong to give the benefit of the doubt to Ed Husain by believing that he had turned moderate.
"The British government has invested huge hopes in Ed Husain as an attractive and plausible antidote to Islamist extremism in Britain. But how can anyone now believe anything he has ever said when he promulgates such a gross libel as the canard of Israel's ‘massacre' of hundreds of ‘innocent' Gazans? How can the government believe that Ed Husain will de-radicalise British Muslims when through articles such as this one he is inciting them to yet more hatred of Israel, the west's forward salient against Islamist aggression?"
Britain has a duty to Arabs
Our rushed withdrawal in 1948 is partly to blame for the crisis in the Middle East, so now we must help create a new Palestine
Last week I was in the Middle East. I was meeting with renowned Muslim scholars, men who lead millions, in a move to condemn extremism and violence. We at the Quilliam Foundation made huge headway, with a high-profile regional event planned next year to help reshape the discourse surrounding Islam and the west.
At home in England, behind the scenes, Muslim leaders were also moving in the same direction. The air was becoming ripe for outright rejection of suicide bombings. Everywhere. Tel Aviv. London. No exceptions.
But now? After Israel's massacre of innocent Palestinians in Gaza, out on the streets of Cairo and Damascus it would be impossible to find credible voices that condemn suicide bombings in Israel. Thanks to its ruthless air strikes and economic blockade of Gaza, Hamas is stronger today than it was last week. Friday sermons across the Muslim world this week will see the worst condemnation of Israel, rightful support for the bealeagured Palestinian peoples – and a boost to the popularity of Hamas by default.
Regardless of political condemnations, the crude reality is that Israel has just helped create a new generation of suicide bombers, prepared to stop at nothing. The ideology that justifies and advocates suicide bombings already exists. Israel though, through its recent actions, has just provided the fire that will now re-ignite this poisoned gas. Prevented for now by Israel's wall and heavy security, the suicide bombers' will to kill, to avenge will not calm. And where there is a will, victims will always find a way to lash out.
I have lived next to a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, Syria. I've sat in homes of poor, hospitable Palestinians who still yearn to return to their homeland, taken by force from them in the turmoil after Britain hurriedly left Palestine in 1948.
I am no friend of Hamas, or Islamist movements. I've spoken out in support of Israel's right to exist, beside a strong Palestinian state, in gatherings and places where it has brought me significant harm. But Israel's cold, politically timed killing of more than 300 Palestinians makes me, and millions more, rethink our attitude towards Israel.
Yesterday, the Quilliam Foundation sent out this statement, and within moments we had complaints from senior officials in the United States and others who blindly support Israel. Granted, Hamas is an irresponsible, senile and fanatical organisation that repeatedly puts its people at risk, but Israel's calculated killing and attempts at deception cannot be overlooked. How can the children of Holocaust survivors become such brutal killers? And during the Sabbath?
The Arabs have strong notions of collective honour, dignity, and respect. And a very long memory when it suits them. In headlines for the past 60 years, they have been crying out against Israeli occupation and aggression, while watching the incompetence of their governments and the hypocrisy of the west – particularly America – in issuing blank cheques to Israel. An attack on Gaza is being seen as an attack on the Arab people as a whole: from Yemen to Morocco, Arab anger and sense of powerlessness is palpable. How much more can the Arabs take?
At schools across the Arab world children are taught about the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916. Here in Britain, we might want to forget this imperial past, but ask any Arab and they will reel off these dates and confirm Britain's involvement in creating Israel. As a country, we have a moral duty to right our historical wrongs. We helped create Israel. We must now help create a Palestine. Our political class can, and should, exert pressure on Washington to rein in Israel to help Palestine emerge.
David Miliband was received warmly in Damascus recently. And Muslims representing Britain in Muslim-majority countries have been proudly making the case for a Britain that stands for justice, peace and fairness. The Foreign Office can make a difference. Human rights and a free civil society should not be the passing fads of Labour foreign secretaries, but serious, aid-related policy aims.
Finally, the government has poured in millions to the Prevent Violent Extremism (PVE) agenda. Spending taxpayers' money, while not addressing genuine grievances of young Muslims, will undermine the battle of ideas raging in websites and social spaces of young Muslims. And worse, strengthen Islamist ideology that feeds off these grievances.
Britain cannot solve the Arab-Israeli conflict. But it can, and must, pressure the next US administration to be fair and even-handed in the Middle East.
• Ed Husain is director of the Quilliam Foundation
I was wrong.
When Ed Husain famously renounced Islamism there were some who warned that, despite his denunciation of Hizb ut Tahrir and Islamist ideology, he remained dangerously confused and should not be treated as a serious reformer. I thought this was too harsh. He had, after all, bravely taken an enormous step out of the darkness; surely he had to be given time and encouragement to adjust properly to the light. Surely it was a good thing that he was encouraging young British Muslims to turn away from Islamic radicalism. The extreme importance of that task was such that, even when he wrote a stupid and ignorant piece about Zionism, I hoped that if he was now told the truth about the history of Israel and the Jewish people, he would realise the error of his thinking on that particular issue. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt.
With first this press release from the Quilliam Foundation soon after the start of the current Israeli operation in Gaza, and now his poisonous piece on the Guardian's Comment is Free today, Ed Husain has shown that in the great battle to defend civilisation against barbarism he is on the wrong side.
Disgustingly, he draws a moral equivalence between Palestinian human bomb attacks and Israel's operation in Gaza, which he calls
Israel's massacre of innocent Palestinians
But this is totally untrue. The vast majority of Gazans who have been killed were Hamas terrorists. According to today's UN figures, 364 have been killed of whom only 62 were civilians. Israel has been targeting only the Hamas infrastructure and its terror-masters, as detailed here. While some civilian casualties are unfortunately inevitable, Israel is clearly attempting to minimise them. It is Hamas which deliberately targets Israeli civilians when it fires its rockets and detonates its human bombs specifically at Israeli civilian targets. It is Hamas which deliberately turns its own civilians into targets by siting its rockets and other military equipment under apartment blocks and in centres of densely crowded population. Hamas tries to kill as many Israeli innocents as possible; Israel's military operation is conducted solely to defend its people against such attack and is designed to minimise the loss of civilian life in Gaza. To draw an equivalence between the two is obscene.
Ed Husain argues that this war will strengthen Hamas in Gaza and radicalise yet more Muslims. It is surely rather more likely that many Palestinians, who have themselves been terrorised by Hamas, will blame Hamas for the current situation, just as Fatah and Egypt have done. Moreover, since any measure Israel takes to defend itself against mass murder – and for that matter, any and every military action in defence of the west by Britain or America -- is used to radicalise Muslims, he is in effect saying that Israel should never take any military action to defend itself, even after being attacked by 5000 rockets in three years.
Indeed, since the very existence of Israel is used to radicalise Muslims, it also implies that Israel should cease to exist at all. Which is implicitly to endorse a second genocide of the Jews. But then Ed Husain comes perilously close to doing just that in this article. Having declared
I've spoken out in support of Israel's right to exist
-- big deal! – he vitiates even this by saying he is now having second thoughts:
But Israel's cold, politically timed killing of more than 300 Palestinians makes me, and millions more, rethink our attitude towards Israel.
‘Cold politically timed killings'? But Israel only launched this offensive because -- as Mahmoud Abbas has said -- Hamas ended its ‘truce' and started lobbing dozens of rockets at Israel. And the fact that he can even apparently entertain the idea that Israel might no longer have ‘the right to exist' puts him outside the moral pale altogether. Does he say China has no right to exist on account of Tibet? Syria on account of the thousands it killed in Hama in one weekend in 1982? Iran on account of its barbaric killings of women, gays and political dissidents? No, of course not – only Israel. He goes on:
Israel's calculated killing and attempts at deception cannot be overlooked. How can the children of Holocaust survivors become such brutal killers? And during the Sabbath?
This takes the blood libel onto another plane still. The implication that the victims of brutal killing have themselves become brutal killers – when all they are doing is trying to prevent another Holocaust, explicitly threatened in the foundational charter of the people against whose genocidal onslaught Israel is merely defending itself – is unconscionable. And the dig at Jewish religious practice is as ignorant as it is gratuitous. Wars of self-defence, as this one is, to save innocent lives threatened by murderous aggression, take precedence in Judaism over sabbath observance. How telling that Ed Husain, ostensibly condemning Israel over the conduct of a war, cannot resist having a sly poke at Judaism itself.
Then there's his lamentable historical illiteracy. He writes:
I've sat in homes of poor, hospitable Palestinians who still yearn to return to their homeland, taken by force from them in the turmoil after Britain hurriedly left Palestine in 1948...At schools across the Arab world children are taught about the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916. Here in Britain, we might want to forget this imperial past, but ask any Arab and they will reel off these dates and confirm Britain's involvement in creating Israel. As a country, we have a moral duty to right our historical wrongs. We helped create Israel. We must now help create a Palestine.
For goodness sake! To repeat for the nth time: Israel was never the Palestinians' ‘homeland'. It was never taken from them ‘by force'. On the contrary, they tried to take the Jews' homeland from them by force – and are still trying. It was the Jews alone for whom historically ‘Palestine' was ever their national homeland. On account of that history and the inalienable right to the land that it conferred, Britain was given a mandate to re-establish that national home and establish accordingly ‘close settlement' of the Jews within the whole of Palestine – which included what is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. To appease Arab violence, the Arabs who lived there were offered their own state around the areas where they were concentrated. But they refused and, backed by neighbouring Arab states, went to war to destroy at birth the Jewish state established by the UN under international law – a war that has continued uninterrupted to this day.
There is only one way to de-radicalise people who are being brainwashed by murderous lies, and that is to tell them the truth. If Ed Husain were really interested in de-radicalising Britain's Muslims, he would tell them that they have been fed a diet of incendiary lies and blood libels about Israel and the Jews, and that justice demands they are taught instead the truth. But instead, he has now adopted the very narrative and rhetoric that are driving Muslims to mass murder.
The issue of Israel sits at the very apex of the fight to defend civilisation. Those who wish to destroy western civilisation need to destroy the Jews, whose moral precepts formed its foundation stones. The deranged hatred of the Jews lies at the core of the Islamists' hatred of America, the ‘infidel' west and modernity, and is the reason why they wish to destroy Israel. Unless people in the west understand that Israel's fight is their own fight, they will be on the wrong side of the war to defend not just the west but civilisation in general.
The British government has invested huge hopes in Ed Husain as an attractive and plausible antidote to Islamist extremism in Britain. But how can anyone now believe anything he has ever said when he promulgates such a gross libel as the canard of Israel's ‘massacre' of hundreds of ‘innocent' Gazans? How can the government believe that Ed Husain will de-radicalise British Muslims when through articles such as this one he is inciting them to yet more hatred of Israel, the west's forward salient against Islamist aggression?
Of course, his arguments are -- tragically, appallingly -- replicated in large measure amongst the British intelligentsia, media and indeed members of the government itself and the broad political class. Indeed, this is a far, far wider problem than one not-so-reformed-after-all Islamic extremist. It is a profound moral corruption that has infected the British body politic. The fact that so many among Britain's educated class think like this means that they too are on the wrong side in the great battle to defend civilisation. And it's not just Israel that in their moral confusion they are thus preparing to throw to the Islamist wolves. It is their own society too.
This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3822