The investigative journalist Dr Nafeez Ahmed has reported that the Quilliam Foundation has received over a million dollars in funding from an American conservative philanthropic organisation, with close ties to the Tea Party and extreme right-wing Christian networks.
Writing in the INSURGE INTELLIGENCE website, Dr Ahmed says that the funding comes in the form of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, for a total of $1,080,997, covering the period from September 2014 to June 2017.
He adds that one of the project leaders for the grant is Ghaffar Hussain, a former managing director of the Quilliam Foundation. Today, he manages the government’s Preventing Violent Extremism programme in the London Borough of Newham.
The Quilliam Foundation says it exists to fight “Islamist extremism” but members of the Muslim community say that it is one of the principle disseminators of Islamophobia in this country.
Dr Ahmed writes: “A new peer-reviewed study in Sociation Today notes that the John Templeton Foundation is among a network of 32 foundations and one corporation (ExxonMobil) ‘that have supplied funds to the five organisations involved in actively mobilising tea party activists.’ On a more particular level, the authors conclude, ‘the Templeton Foundation is a key player in the funding of right-wing organisations, including two that have served as active agents of mobilisation for the tea party movement.’
“Between 2008 and May 2015, the Foundation’s head until his death was Jack Templeton, who has poured money into opposing same-sex marriage and defending the Iraq War.
“In 2009, Templeton sat on Mitt Romney’s National Faith and Values Committee, and in 2012, he was the second largest donor to the super-PAC that supported far-right Republican Rick Santorum’s presidential primary campaign.
“During the 2012 Republican primaries, Mitt Romney said he would ban Muslims from appointment to his presidential cabinet since ‘based on the numbers of American Muslims in our population’ as a percentage, ‘I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified.’
“Templeton financed his own right-wing organisation, Let Freedom Ring, which supports the Tea Party. He and his wife donated more than $1 million to call for banning gay marriage. The Foundation has also financed the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, which regularly campaign against the scientific consensus on climate change, as well as pro-war neoconservative groups like the American Enterprise Institute.
“In 2014, the same year that Quilliam received its million dollar 3-year funding package, the John Templeton Foundation participated in a shadowy annual ‘conference of hard-right Christian organizations’ known only as ‘The Gathering.’ According to the Daily Beast, where Maajid Nawaz is a columnist, ‘The Gathering’ is a convening of ‘many of the wealthiest conservative to hard-right evangelical philanthropists in America.'”
Grant documentation from the John Templeton Foundation obtained by INSURGEintelligence identifies a former Quilliam staffer Ghaffar Hussain and Quilliam senior researcher Usama Hasan as “Project Leaders” for the million dollar grant from 2014 to 2017.
In December last year, a statement issued by East London Muslim religious leaders, teachers, community groups, anti-racist organisations, local politicians, and university student unions, stated that Prevent in Newham “exclusively targeting young Muslims for the views they hold on religion or issues such as government foreign policy,” including cracking down on “normal Muslim religious practice.”
According to The Guardian, “this hardening coincided with the council’s hiring of a former director of the Quilliam Foundation, a UK counter-terrorism thinktank that has long argued for a tougher line on non-violent extremism.”
Dr Nafeez Ahmed is an investigative journalist, author and international security scholar.