Set up in May by former members of the Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Quilliam Foundation sees itself as an anti-Islamist think tank. Security services in
The Quilliam Foundation, under the guidance of mainstream Muslim scholars, is a counter extremism think tank, created by former activists of radical Islamist organisations like Hizb ut-Tahrir
How can Islamist extremism be undermined? This question is currently preoccupying security officials throughout
New directions in dealing with Islamists
How should we challenge Islamist extremism in
Thus in May the so-called Quilliam Foundation was established: an anti-Islamist think tank, created by former members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, banned a few years ago in
Maajid Nawaz, one of the Quilliam Foundation's founder members, left Hizb ut-Tahrir because he saw no future for an organisation which failed to allow for conflicting views. He is now an advocate of secular, democratic states.
Pioneer in the "war of ideas"
The Quilliam Foundation aims – and its founders' intellectual acumen should guarantee it – to be a pioneer in the so-called "war of ideas".
This is a term which now seems hackneyed, but serves however to illustrate what is at stake and why the Quilliam Foundation will certainly be more successful than institutions set up with US money to convince Muslims of the United States' purported altruism (such as the Arabic language TV station al-Hurra).
Any halfway neutral observer must admit that for forty years
The overthrow of Saddam Hussein was not an act of charity either, and the resulting chaos and daily terror has touched many Muslims, driving some to extremism.
Humiliation and discrimination
Maajid Nawaz knows this feeling of powerlessness. As a teenager he experienced racism at first hand. He had white friends who were stabbed by far-right vigilantes simply because they were involved with a "paki".
But it was the war in
Ed Husain's withdrawal from radical Islam
Maajid Nawaz was detained in Egypt in 2002, subjected to witnessing of torture, and then convicted to five years imprisonment for belonging to Hizb ut-Tahrir | Asked what he found so attractive about the extreme form of Islam, Ed Husain, the other intellectual force behind the Quilliam Foundation, replied with six adjectives: elite, exclusive, stimulating, contradictory, authoritative and confrontational.
Today Ed Husain attacks Hizb ut-Tahrir for its global conspiracy theories, which allow no grey tones, acknowledging only good and evil. Yes it is true, he says, that western
But if neither of these problems existed, the Islamist rat catchers would look for other subjects around which to stir up young Muslims. He believes that as long as Muslims such as himself do not acknowledge that they have a serious problem with extremism, they can do nothing against it.
On the Quilliam Foundation website is an audio file of a debate between Ed Husain and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. They agree on many things, both for instance calling for more self-criticism from Muslims. On one point, however they disagree fundamentally: in their attitude to Islam.
Polarization instead of self-criticism
Ayaan Hirsi Ali has abandoned her faith and now attacks it forcefully, unafraid to risk causing insult. She is fully entitled to do this, but because of it, she only reaches a white audience, who see their aversion to Islam confirmed.
The Somali-born former Dutch parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali makes use of clichés about Islam and demands that Muslims be tested as to their convictions. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is touching a deep wound which many practising Muslims carry around with them: what does it feel like to hear people say every day that your religion is reactionary, violent and repulsive? Many people in
This is humiliating and it is why Ayaan Hirsi Ali is part of the problem; she is will never spark self-critical debates among Muslims, simply provoking defensive reactions.
Ed Husain is different. Asked why Islam seems so resilient in times of godlessness, he states that he finds spiritual comfort when he hears lines from the Koran and feels warmth in the presence of Muslim clerics.
In a secular country which fails to set examples and has no sense of truth, Islam provides most believers with peace of mind and offers them moral orientation, he says: Islam is an experience, a taste, a scent.
This is not only an invitation to all Islamists to re-think their rule-fixated faith; it is also an invitation to all non-Muslims to recognize the spiritual power of Islam which they may never themselves be able to feel.
Published: 07.08.2008 - Last modified: 07.08.2008
© Qantara.de 2008
Translated from the German by Steph Morris
A Background Story
Britain is focal point for terrorism, warns
Bleak report portrays EU under siege, with terror plots soaring and the
By Brian Brady, Whitehall Editor
Sunday, 18 May 2008
An analysis of the terrorist threat by Europol, the European Police Office, has concluded that the dangers posed by militant groups rose to unprecedented proportions in 2007, with steep increases in the number of arrests, plots and attacks.
But Islamic terrorism, particularly through a rejuvenated al-Qa'ida, was highlighted as the most significant security threat to the authorities in the
The bleak warning came as the Government prepared for a battle over its plans to allow the police to detain terror suspects for up to six weeks without charge.
The EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report revealed there were 203 terror-related arrests in the
Europol experts identified the lawless tribal areas of
British sources said that further attacks on the
The report also warned that British foreign policy presented critical dangers for all Europe: "The conflicts in
Professor David Capitanchik, a terrorism expert at
Europol, which co-ordinates law enforcement information across the EU, warned that al-Qa'ida was stepping up its campaign against
A Home Office spokesman confirmed that most of the Europol findings tallied with official figures, and underlined the Government's consistent warnings about the scale of the terror threat facing the nation. But he insisted that the conflicts in