The Quilliam Foundation has been permanently closed down

Maajid Nawaz. Photography by Arif Gardner AG Studios. Photographer in Hertfordshire

Maajid Nawaz has announced the closure of the Quilliam Foundation due to financial difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nawaz, who co-founded the organisation in 2007, tweeted today: “Due to the hardship of maintaining a non-profit during Covid lockdowns, we took the tough decision to close Quilliam down for good. This was finalised today. A huge thank you to all those who supported us over the years. We are now looking forward to a new post-covid future.”

Quilliam’s website has been taken down as have its social media platforms.

According to its latest financial reports for 2019, the Quilliam Foundation only had just over £1,000 in the bank and were in debt. They also had 11 employees at the time.

Since its foundation the Quilliam Foundation has been widely criticised by Muslim organisations for putting the emphasis on extremism within the Muslim community.

On the other hand, Quilliam described itself as the world’s first counter-extremism organisation which challenges extremism to foster a shared sense of belonging and to advance liberal democratic values.

Controversies

The Quilliam Foundation was founded in 2007 by Maajid Nawaz and Ed Husain.

In its first few years it received government funding as well as a very high mainstream media profile. After the government funding dried up it was reportedly funded by right-wing, conservative elements in the United States.

Over the years Quilliam has been involved in a number of controversies.

For example, it has called for the reform of Islam and for the Islamic hudood laws to be abolished. In a report it said the reforms would help defeat “ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Jamaat-e-Islami, Muslim Brotherhood and Khomeinist ideology.”

Quilliam said hudood punishments were not required by Islamic law. This goes directly against the mainstream Islamic position that the laws (which include the cutting of the hand and the death penalty) are timeless as long as they are implemented correctly and in the right context.

In 2018 an academic at University College London said that the public shouldn’t trust a Quilliam Foundation report on grooming gangs, and especially its claim that 84% of “grooming gang offenders” are Asian.

Ella Cockbain, a lecturer in Security and Crime Science, rubbished the controversial report which was released in a blaze of publicity.

The report was produced by Quilliam’s CEO, Haras Rafiq, and researcher, Muna Adil.

In a series of tweets Cockbain said that it is true that some Asian men have committed horrific sexual offences against children, but that it was time to call Quilliam to account for “shoddy research” and “dubious claims of conclusively irrefutable” overrepresentation of Asian offenders.

Maajid Nawaz’s Quilliam Foundation was later ordered by a judge to pay one of its ex employees (an author of the grooming report) more than £20,000 after it failed to pay her wages and unfairly dismissed her.

In a judgement published by the Central London Employment Tribunal, Judge E Burns awarded Mrs MA Khan £20,047.72 after she made a claim for unpaid wages, notice pay, holiday pay, a redundancy payment and unfair dismissal.

5Pillars understands the claimant was Muna Adil Khan who was employed as a media strategist and a researcher by Quilliam from 2017-19.

Qulliam has also targeted many British Muslim organisations and activists, including 5Pillars, accusing them of extremism.

Last year Maajid Nawaz’s Quilliam Foundation and the Mail on Sunday launched an attack on 5Pillars over a journalism grant which we were awarded during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Public Interest News Foundation (PINF) awarded 5Pillars £3,000 to assist our work during the coronavirus pandemic which has adversely affected the finances of many journalistic outlets.

Quilliam subsequently complained to PINF, claiming that we were unfit to receive the grant given our coverage of issues such as Israel, interfaith and LGBT teaching.

Quilliam accused us of being “a fake news site with a track record of peddling conspiracy theories about terrorist attacks.”

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