The Quilliam Foundation: Good riddance to bad rubbish

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

5Pillars editor Roshan Muhammed Salih dances on the grave of the Quilliam Foundation, but warns that there will always be lucrative opportunities in the UK for those who attack Islam and Muslims. 

Alhamdullilah, alhamdulilah. Allah SWT is truly the Most High, the Just, the Humiliator, the Abaser. He has answered the duas of so many Muslims – to destroy the Quilliam Foundation. Allahu Akbar.

And He has liberated the name of the Shaykh ul Islam of the British Isles, Abdullah Quilliam, whose legacy was tarnished by people who weren’t fit to lick his boots.

Only Israel has united Muslims more in recent years than the Quilliam Foundation and its founder Maajid Nawaz. They have got up the noses of all sections of the community because we all saw them for what they were – attention-seekers whose voice was artificially amplified by government, Islamophobes and the mainstream media.

Down the years Quilliam and Nawaz have served the establishment’s agenda faithfully – that of diverting attention away from Britain’s murderous foreign policy and domestic Islamophobia to putting the onus on the Muslim community to “clean its own house up.”

They did what all minority communities find despicable – siding with the rich and powerful against the weak and downtrodden. Their message of “Islamic extremism” and “Islamic reform” went down really well with all the Islamophobes in this country. Everybody who has ever had an axe to grind against Muslims loved them.

But in their crusade to combat “Islamic extremism” all they really achieved was to make non-Muslims hate Muslims even more, and to solidify the government narrative that British foreign policy was not the main motivating factor behind domestic radicalisation.

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Quilliam’s greatest hits

What did Quilliam really achieve?

Well in 2010 they prepared a secret list for a top British security official accusing peaceful Muslim groups, politicians, a television channel and a Scotland Yard unit of sharing the ideology of terrorists.

The document listed alleged extremist sympathisers including the Muslim Council of Britain. Other groups included the Muslim Safety Forum, the Islamic Human Rights Commission and even the Islam Channel.

In 2013, the leaders of the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll, teamed up with the Quilliam Foundation which said they were proud to facilitate their departure from the EDL.

Quilliam said the organisation hoped Mr Robinson would “invest his energy and commitment in countering extremism of all kinds, supporting the efforts to bring along his former followers and encouraging his critique of Islamism as well as his concern with far-right extremism.”

Tommy Robinson Editorial credit: Rupert Rivett /

But it wasn’t long before Tommy was back being an extremist and denouncing Quilliam.

Then in 2015 Nawaz was the subject of a Daily Mail story which said he was filmed repeatedly trying to touch a naked lap dancer.

Married Nawaz is said to have asked for two private sessions at a strip club in east London. Footage showed the “advocate of women’s rights” attempting to touch her arms and thighs, which was against the venue’s policy.

A spokesman for Nawaz said he denied touching the dancer “inappropriately” and added that his reputation for advocating women’s rights was “in the context of Islamic extremism.”

And 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” were Asian.

Ella Cockbain, a lecturer in Security and Crime Science, rubbished the controversial report which was released in a blaze of publicity. Quilliam didn’t responded to Cockbain’s accusations but said they stood by the report.

Muslims celebrating

Of course Muslims were cock-a-hoop celebrating on social media yesterday when Maajid Nawaz announced that Quilliam had been permanently shut down. And I definitely had some fun too.

For us this was visceral and this was personal. Our joy was payback for 13 years of seeing Quilliam and Nawaz given platforms they don’t deserve to attack a community which is itself under attack.

We were just sick and tired of seeing Nawaz and Quilliam presented as “Muslim commentators,” the “voice of moderate Islam” or the voice of reason against hordes of fanatics.

But we aren’t naive either. We know that this was just a small victory amid a right-wing Islamophobic trajectory that seems irreversible. Be in no doubt Muslims are in for a hard time in this country with politicians, mainstream media and civil society all having us in their crosshairs.

So sadly there will always be jobs for the likes of Nawaz in this atmosphere. And there will always be money for those who attack Islam and Muslims. But for now at least let’s all just celebrate this early Eid present. Alhamdulilah.


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