BMTV and Penny Appeal condemn Quilliam Foundation after social media uproar

Penny Appeal

Humanitarian charity Penny Appeal and British Muslim TV have publicly shunned the Quilliam Foundation as “damaging” and “detrimental” to the Muslim community, after a social media uproar over their involvement in an event consisting of controversial Muslim reformists.

The “British Islam Conference 2016” is being organised by the reformist organisation “New Horizons” led by Dilwar Hussain, the former president of the Islamic Society of Britain (ISB).

Speakers for Saturday’s event include American reformist Amina Wadud who regularly leads mixed gender congregational prayers, Dr Usama Hasan and Salah Ansari of the Quilliam Foundation, and one of the group’s founding members Rashad Ali.

The event poster had included Penny Appeal and British Muslim TV’s logos as official sponsors of the event.

However, both organisations have now confirmed that they oppose the work of Quilliam Foundation and will not be sponsoring the event. Penny Appeal also confirmed that they will not be attending the conference.

Whilst invitations to present at the conference were open till March 3, the event was only publicly advertised on the New Horizons Facebook page yesterday, which led many to question whether speakers with opposing views were genuinely allowed to participate.

Social media backlash

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Scores of Muslims took to Facebook to voice their concerns yesterday over Penny Appeal and BMTV’s role as official sponsors of the event.

Some had even threatened to withdraw their ongoing donations.

Others questioned whether Penny Appeal’s charitable objectives as a humanitarian organisation fit in with sponsoring an event with inevitable political implications.

Here are some of the comments posted on Facebook:

Shiplu Miah wrote: “No organisation that supports the likes of Quilliam Foundation and those who vilify and attack mainstream Islam should be supported in word or deed.”

Zhill Abd Rahman posted: “Worst line up ever. Even Krusty the clown wouldn’t go to this circus! It’s akin to inviting the BNP, UKIP, NF, Henry Jackson Society, Britain First to discuss immigration!”

Leyla Hyda said: “How can you sponsor an event with the Quilliam sell outs? Guilty by association!”

The social media storm began around midnight with only Bilal Hassam, a Penny Appeal employee and BMTV presenter, defending his organisations’ position till early hours of the morning.


In response to the social media furore, Penny Appeal posted the following statement on their Facebook page this morning:

For the avoidance of any doubt, Penny Appeal has no affiliation or support for the work of Quilliam Foundation. In fact, we believe that the work they do is damaging the very community (both Muslim and British) that they profess to be supporting, and to which we belong.

“We were invited to speak at an event, hosted by New Horizons and the University of Coventry, to showcase positive ‘British Muslim contribution’ to British society through our UK Domestic programmes, where we work to support the homeless, foster children and victims of domestic violence.

“We have no role in organising the event and are not attending. We have also requested that organisers remove our logo.”

The following statement is being circulated and attributed to BMTV, though the response has not been posted on their official channels:

“British Muslim TV works to provide a platform to explore what it means to be confidently Muslim and comfortably British. We were invited to present on this very theme at the ‘New Horizons’ event hosted at the University of Coventry.

“We believe working in the cultural space is essential for the growth of our communities. We also believe the work of Quilliam Foundation to be detrimental to our communities and would encourage articulate voices to robustly challenge them.

“We have no role in organising this event and have requested our logos to be removed.”

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