Tag Archives: Quilliam Foundation

My interview: Adam Deen Joins Quilliam Foundation

  


Adam Deen has joined the Quilliam Foundation. I sat down with him at the Quilliam offices to discuss why he had joined and what he was hoping to achieve.

The narrative of changing your mind is not one with a single eureka style moment he tells me. About ten years ago Adam was a member of an Islamist extremist group Al-Muhajirou, a now illegal group that once had the infamous Anjem Choudhary heading it. Such a mindset takes time to shake off, even when you leave an extremist group. If there was an idea which never sat comfortably for Deen, even during his extremism years ago, it was death for apostasy. One reason he set up the Deen Institute was to have the debate and inquiry into what Islam is. As he mentions in his reasons for joining Quilliam:

“For me, the last few years in particular have brought to light a ‘religious’ minority of Muslims whose interpretation of Islam is anti-rationalistic and at odds with basic ethical principles. These protagonists have a disproportionate stronghold on the religious community and merely provide lip service to a rational Islam.”

He goes on to mention “a forgotten rationalist heritage of the Islamic tradition” and mentioned to me how he hopes to push this issue in debates with Islamists, but also in reaching out about Islam. To pin down where Islamism is going against the Koranic teaching, thus exposing the extremism which is often “hiding behind a dogma of unity” then trying to prevent discussion and critical inquiry by holding on to a victimhood mentality. One that seeks to pass the total blame on western foreign policy rather than an irrational view of Islamic theology.

The decision to join Quilliam followed months of discussions with Haras Rafiq, who is the Managing Director of the foundation. It seems atheists like myself tweeting Deen over the years really did not help in this move from extremism to a human rights model calling for “Islam’s own enlightenment” in countering extremism. I asked how his critics might have helped at the time. He replied asking him to examine, within Islam, counter-views to his own positions would have.

In making now the counter-extremist argument, Deen emphasised universities rather than Mosques as key. With Islamic Societies on campus, often having new staff members at least every three years, the main speakers on the circuit to invite are those that promote an Islamist view. Students lacking a theological understanding of Islam makes countering it from such seasoned speakers that much more challenging. They need the tools to do so.

There needs to be Muslims not just questioning such things as apostasy killings, but pinning down other Muslims who use a “rational double-talk” in debates to obfuscate what they would admit privately as their position. Rather than this being seen as “isalmophobic” or being a “house Muslim” this is about tackling the toxic theocratic ideology that underpins extremism.

Not everyone welcomes that. But Deen feels that is what Islam needs right now, and in countering extremism joining the Quilliam Foundation for him is part of that vital work.

Talking this all over with Deen, I could sense here was a man hungry to stop the extremist manipulation of a faith he cares passionately for. Someone who wants to bring heat and light to the discussion. I look forward to seeing him in action.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Quilliam Foundation DfE Funding and Ramadan Foundation

Mehdi Hasan has thrown down a gauntlet to me. Does Maajid Nawaz’s public pronouncements regarding when taxpayer funding ended square with the revelation on Newsnight recently of funding from the Department For Education (DfE)?

According to their policy editor Chris Cook:

In March 2011, the Home Office refused to continue funding the body, which had enjoyed public support, and which then said it needed £150,000 to keep working.

Defending that decision, Damian Green, a Home Office minister, said that “Quilliam should be free to contribute to the wider debate, but not depend on government funding to do so”.

Shortly afterwards, however, the DfE stepped in. Its ledgers confirm that, in May 2011, it contributed £120,000 to the think tank.

The date of this new funding being paid, May 2011, do not seem to square with Maajid Nawaz’s public statements when tax payer money ceased to be awarded to the Quilliam Foundation:

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On twitter this was how Mehdi Hasan described the situation:

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Regarding Home Office money still being payed to the Quilliam Foundation, that appears unlikely to be in 2012 as Mehdi states given the Freedom of Information (FOI) request for when they were funded:

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I do not know the exact date paid, but that £26 thousand is in the financial year 2011-2012. Add that amount to the DfE figure and it is more or less what the Quilliam Foundation were after.

Indeed to help with a transition away from government grants it appears the Home Office initially offered £40,000 to assist in 2011 according to a report here which Maajid Nawaz commented on as being too short.

Ramadan Foundation

So did Maajid Nawaz lie about funding? And, what would I say if it was Mohammed Shafiq rather than Maajid? Well, interestingly when 5 Pillarz requested FOI on Quilliam funding they did so on Shafiq’s Ramadan Foundation. To which the Home Office replied:

The Home Office did not disclose any information in regards to Ramadhan Foundation. They stated: “Regarding any other information we neither confirm nor deny whether we hold information you requested. Sections 24 (2), 38 (2) and 43 (3) of the Freedom Information Act absolve us from the requirement to say whether or not we hold information. These exemptions relate to national security, health and safety and commercial interest tests, are set out in the attached Annex.”

However, Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramdhaan [sic] Foundation has consistently denied ever receiving government funds.

5 Pillarz reported this story in November 2013 – but I have not heard anyone accusing Mo Shafiq of getting into bed with the government possibly in interests of national security against Muslims. Is anyone asking if he might be a government stooge, part of an undercover PREVENT strategy? Involved in counter terrorism activities that any funding he or any organisation he may be linked to cannot be disclosed as coming from Her Majesty’s Government? If Quilliam deserves that kind of accusation and scrutiny surely Ramadan Foundation and Mohammed Shafiq do too.

Quilliam Funding 2011

I linked to this tweet of Maajid’s:

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Saying:

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His reply:

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In essence the decision to cut funding was taken in 2010, and some pre-cut decision funding agreed for the financial year 2010-11 continued to come in during 2011. Thing is, that does not explain the DfE money.

That money was from a new department of state (from Home Office to DfE) and rather than seed money this was transition money – still tax payer money and ear marked as helping the Quilliam Foundation to keep going in 2011 till non government funding could be found on a regular basis.

So unless that money was agreed very soon after the December 2010 decision by the Home Office to cease funding Quilliam, it was decided as new money in 2011. And paid in 2011. If Maajid meant continuous funding ended in 2010, but some money including a one off DfE special transition amount of £120,000 was paid in 2011 … well these tweets do not read like that.

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Let alone this tweet:

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The financial situation in 2011 for Quilliam was reported by The Guardian as:

If the latest accounts – for the financial year up to March 2012 – filed by the Quilliam Foundation are anything to go by, the high-profile injection of publicity also comes at a time when it may be facing challenging financial circumstances.

Two years after the Home Office began to wind down its funding for the organisation, those accounts show that Quilliam was facing mounting debts, while having little in the way of relative assets. Income from training, consultancy and publications were haemorrhaging, while its income from grants and donations fell from just over £900,000 in 2011 to £532,099 in 2012.

The company was in particular trouble in 2011, making a loss, but after taking radical action to cut back on expenses and parting company with half of its staff, it was just about able to make it into the red again in the following year, when Nawaz paid himself £77,438.

This would suggest the cash injection by the DfE of £120,000 was a vital lifeline for the Quilliam Foundation. As indeed Maajid Nawaz stated at the time when asking for £150,000 – as they made a loss according to the above report even with government funds.

Conclusion

Maybe Maajid Nawaz meant ongoing automatic, year after year, seed funding was to be stopped. Maybe he was lumping all the public funding together rather than drawing special attention to the DfE funding. But it does look like obfuscation over the issue of when government funding ended, even though it would appear in Company House records. If I wanted to be uncharitable I might call it lying if I did not know the following.

The big thing is the last funding from the tax payer came in 2011 still, which we all knew before Newsnight. The decision to end Home Office funding was made in 2010, but pre-agreed funds would still be paid into end of financial year March 2011. It was public knowledge in March 2011 that the home office offered £40,000 in transition funds.

We knew the Home Office was offering, and gave, transition funding in 2011. Maajid Nawaz acknowledged that.

Maybe a bigger song and dance should have been made publicly that the DfE came in to fund a further £120,000 for transition funding in May 2011. The question why this was not made clearer is a legitimate one given Quilliam may have had further financial difficulties without such largess.

One answer would seem to be the public tiff between the Home Secretary and the Education Secretary over tackling extremism this might have generated at the time. As we have seen happen over the Trojan Horse/OfSted reports. But I think it should have been known at the time.

It is not quite a smoking gun, let alone a steaming pork pie. But I would advise Maajid to say “last government funding came in 2011 and stopped after that”, to avoid any ambiguity over decision to cut date/last penny received date. He might feel this is no big deal, but I hope he recognises even molehills can cause trouble in your back garden if you personally do not attend to them.

On that matter, perhaps someone could ask Mohammed Shafiq why the government will not tell us what funding he or his organisation may or may not be getting from the government? I throw that gauntlet down for someone else.

Update Sunday 8 June 2014 9:25PM:

Maajid Nawaz dfe

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How I Conspired Against Mo Ansar

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A “cabal of interest” is arraigned against Mo Ansar, a conspiracy by “dark forces.” The articles by Douglas Murray, Nick Cohen, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Jeremy Duns (who have all linked to this blog) reveal a picture of someone not striving for peace, tolerance or unity. It is like there is a portrait in a locked room; while Mo Ansar is away mouthing progressive platitudes with Russell Brand, something less presentable has for most people been tucked away out of sight. Thanks to the internet, this sinister monstrous reality is hidden in plain sight, as painted by Mo Ansar himself.

A ten minute audio of Douglas Murray discussing Mo Ansar and Nick Cohen’s article can be heard in the video below:

The latest exposes by the people above had the effect of putting the hidden portrait on public display, bringing its surreal depictions to a much larger audience.

I have never written my full view of Mo Ansar, but rather commented on his views, behavior and credentials in about ten posts (out of nearly a thousand total). Why should we question the credibility of a man who just wants to serve the community? I try to include points not already mentioned and highlight the ones that need restating again. This is a round up of all our pieces, and hopefully now the story is out, the last time I feel compelled to write about him.

History

In an infamous tweet Mo Ansar tweeted to historian Tom Holland:

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Mo claimed that the tweet was out of context when brought up by critics, but he refused to give the context. I therefore wrote a post on the context and critiqued the link he had provided. Mo claimed Islamic slavery was not slavery as we would understand it, because of how they were treated. My retort was if you own a person who you can sell and trade, it is slavery, and therefore oppressive. He was offered a right of reply.

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He accepted and then a few months later turned down. As you can read about here. The post by then had gained traction, as had Mo’s tweet which was parodied as above.

I was surprised by Mo’s stance defending slavery in the Islamic world as not being slavery. It had no bearing on the history of what we know took place, nor reflected what was the common practice at the time. Bottom line: a person being owned is oppression by itself, and is enough to condemn the concept of slavery in any age. This is deflected as suggesting he is for slavery in the here and now. This was about historical revisionism and apologetics.

Mo Ansar does have a strange view of history which is willfully skewed, gullible or conspiratorial in nature – as the next few tweets and Mo’s blog post will demonstrate:

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Remember Mo Ansar claims to be a theologian and an educationalist. His claim of being a lawyer has been debunked with him apologizing (see here). He has never said where he received such academic training for the other positions of authority he claims. When presented by the media as such a person, the public expect a qualified expert. Not someone who just thinks they are one.

The Conspiracy Theorist

I am told by a few people on twitter that Mo Ansar is a progressive. That image seems at odds from his 2006 post where he reveals himself to be a 9/11 conspiracy theorist and states Israel is a terrorist state part funded thanks to the holocaust, and that by God they should have no homeland.

Today we have the global media network, main stream media, corporate oligarchies and capitalist free markets economies. All perceive a threat by the advent of Islam. We have no conclusive proof of who committed 9/11, why the towers were ‘pulled’, why airplanes were modified, why steel melted at 800 degrees not 2,300 or the relevance of ‘Operation Northwoods’. The pleas of the families for an inquiry are denied and the evidence has in the majority, been completely destroyed. However, any straw poll will almost entirely state it was the Moozlims.

The Muslims of today are being put under an intolerable amount of suffering; they face persecution and oppression the world over in almost all of the high-Muslim population countries. Imperialistic forces continue the age old tried and tested tradition of divide and conquer. Hand in hand with a war of words, a battle for the hearts and minds of the West, a continuing aggression against the Muslim world. Israel, arguably a terrorist state, is overwhelmingly core funded through the US and holocaust reparations. We need not list Israeli atrocities other than to say that according to the Book of Moses, the Jews are utterly prohibited from oppressing another people, having been oppressed themselves. They are meant to wander without a land. They are in the main European, Ashkenazim, Khazar, non-Sephardic and non-Semitic Jews.

Mo Ansar has said that Islam is not homophobic, and that he has campaigned as a civil rights activist all his life. He has been blogging for around ten years (though absent last year). Not a single blog post exists dedicated to gay rights and Islam. We actually have to go to twitter to find his views.

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On equal marriage:

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This one issue is enough for people to see Mo Ansar as a progressive. But when we look at his views on slavery, Israel, 9/11, or views on history, the persona is more one geared to gullibility and sensationalism. It is one reason his accusations of dark forces and cabal interests, coming together to thwart him, are part of a conspiracy mindset. We disagree with someone that uses social and public media, by using those very same platforms. It cannot just be disagreement in the conspiracy world Mo lives in.

Before He Was A Commentator – By Milo

In a thorough examination of Mo Ansar, Milo takes us to the earlier career Mo had as banker, which ended in acrimony and revealed a persona not shown to the public:

According to court documents, Ansar’s failure to honour a debt to Lloyds TSB – a staff loan – appears to be what kicked off a 36-day employment tribunal and launched him into a career of dishonesty and special pleading in the early 2000s.

He did not repay the money he owed, and when his manager launched a compliance investigation he accused that manager of “racial discrimination,” “victimisation” and “harassment.” He later accused the bank of “tampering” with data files, a claim rejected outright by the judge.

Many appeals later, after numerous failed allegations of bias against the chair of the Tribunal from Ansar, the case was thrown out by the Supreme Court before three Lord Justices, including Leveson, at massive cost to the taxpayer.

In an earlier appeals judgment, the judge noted that Ansar found it difficult to take instruction from female superiors, had undertaken “sloppy” work for the bank and had lied in a letter pertinent to the case.

There was also evidence of “deliberate falsification of assets” by Ansar, said the judge, who noted that Ansar was “a forceful personality” who “manipulated circumstances for his own benefit.”

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Iain Dale, Jeremy Duns, Nick Cohen

From a previous post:

Mo Ansar reported Iain Dale to the police on 1 April 2014 for racial and religious hatred for banning Mo from his radio show and calling him a “gobby prick” on twitter. The police, and TellMamma which monitors hatred towards Muslims, both dismissed his complaint [sent by him below].

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Jeremy Duns picked up on a twitter sock puppet account that was once called @moansar2 – and started looking at the similarities of different accounts that supported Mo Ansar and held similar views. He remarks on how Mo Ansar responded when Maajid Nawaz (of the Quilliam Foundation) tweeted a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed saying “How ya doin’?”

When a petition was set up calling for Nawaz to be deselected by his party as a candidate, Ansar tweeted a link to it fifteen times, and discussed it many more online and in the media. Many condemned him for this, pointing out he was fanning the flames of extremism and could encourage death threats against Nawaz. Mo Ansar breezily condemned the death threats, but carried on campaigning against Nawaz on the cartoon issue anyway, despite being unable to say that he found it offensive himself when directly challenged by David Aaronovitch on radio and by Nawaz himself on Newsnight.

Thankfully, nothing came of those threats – but it might have done. Had anything happened, Mo Ansar would not have been solely responsible, of course, but in my view he would have been partly so. It was a malicious and potentially extremely dangerous thing to do. And he knew he was doing it.

I am inclined to agree it was revenge for how Maajid Nawaz managed to become the man that separated Tommy Robinson from the English Defense League, rather than him in the documentary When Tommy Met Mo. As I wrote at the time this particular face off between Nawaz and Ansar caught the later out:

Nawaz had previously invited Ansar to condemn sharia sanctioning chopping the hands off a thief – Ansar obfuscated and, oddly for someone introduced as a theologian by the media, said he would want to see what other scholars said (note on The Daily Politics today he does call such punishment “abhorrent” – if only the follow up question was should it still happen in an Islamic state?). Unlike Nawaz in the documentary, he could not say no to sharia being implemented without considering whether it was Islamic and therefore legitimate to do so. It appeared like religion being put before being humane by Ansar.

Maybe Mo Ansar looks to create further division by saying that this is all a smear campaign by Quilliam. After all, when flaming the passions of Islamic blasphemy and sectarianism, this is what a peaceful tolerant unifying person does without irony.

What we had been tweeting and writing in the blogosphere finally had reached the ear of professional writers above. With Nick Cohen it hit print media (arrow added below).

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Nick Cohen sums up how I feel about  Mo Ansar:

His vindictiveness and self-regard will be his undoing. Broadcasters are a tolerant bunch. But they take exception to guests who try to set the cops on them. BBC Radio 5 will not have him on. Meanwhile everyone in commercial radio knows Iain Dale’s story. Maybe the Russian and Iranian propaganda channels will return his calls. Apart from that, it’s over.

We should not forget Mo Ansar, however. For all the talk of ‘diversity,’ we live in an era of uniformity. Instead of recognising the vast range of views within British Islam, officialdom created a monolithic bloc ‘the Muslims’. It then decided that self-appointed and invariably reactionary voices should be ‘the Muslims’ sole representatives.

 

Heart Of The Matter

The portrait we have unveiled is of a man consumed by the desire to be in the media spotlight, but this picture is the work of Mo Ansar by his own words and deeds. It includes the surrealism of being a lawyer, conspiracy theories and paranoia.

In the video above with Russell Brand, Mo Ansar states what he does is serve the community and that the message of Islam is to have a soft heart. What he does not mention is that as well as good actions this must include good intentions – namely your service to the community must be to praise Allah, not your own public image.

Whilst Mo Ansar claims to see into my heart, I cannot claim to look into his. All I know is that his behavior in dealing with critics such as Iain Dale, and his stated views outlined above, coupled with his behavior, make him someone not to taken seriously anymore.

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When Tommy Met Mo

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Mo Ansar dropped everything on hearing that Tommy Robinson was taking part in a press conference at The Quilliam Foundation, rushing from his home in Hampshire to London. Having taken part in the television documentary “Quitting the English Defence League: When Tommy met Mo” (aired last night) Ansar had seen how impressed Tommy had been with Usama Hasan and Maajid Nawaz. Discussing openly with them issues with 7th century thought and the need to discuss and review application of sharia in an Islamic state. Tommy saw there were Muslims prepared to challenge “No Answer” as he called him, and that maybe it would make sense to work together with Muslims to tackle extremism. Abandoning the English Defence League to be more able to do so.

Nawaz had previously invited Ansar to condemn sharia sanctioning chopping the hands off a thief – Ansar obfuscated and, oddly for someone introduced as a theologian by the media, said he would want to see what other scholars said (note on The Daily Politics today he does call such punishment “abhorrent” – if only the follow up question was should it still happen in an Islamic state?). Unlike Nawaz in the documentary, he could not say no to sharia being implemented without considering whether it was Islamic and therefore legitimate to do so. It appeared like religion being put before being humane by Ansar.

Mo Ansar will revise history, deflect criticism and even refuse to answer criticism of Islam as islamophobic – even though when it comes to women, homosexuality and punishment we would say the same about the bible. Historians and scholars are open about the bible and being the subject of its time in a way that Mo Ansar will not when it comes to the Koran and hadiths. As Tom Holland mentions by Islam going through the same historicising process with societal pressures maybe hadiths on apostates and homosexuality can be phased out as the last word.

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This process is more plausible than Mo Ansar stating in a room full of EDL supporters that “Islam is not homophobic.” Mehdi Hasan acknowledges homophobia as an issue. For 15 years Mo Ansar said he has advocated for gay rights. Great thing to say. On his blog I cannot find a single post where he has done so and hope readers can help me out where he has written in defence of gay rights within Islam and that an Islamic state should not punish homosexuality. As a “theologian” one might hope he has written a scholarly article or two as a gay rights activist.

On The Daily Politics Ansar was a little more accurately introduced as a “Muslim commentator”, and what becomes apparent in the documentary is the more Tommy meets Muslims who disagree with Mo, the greater the distance between them grows. Whether it is Yaqoob (formerly Respect) stating head covering is a choice for women and not something for children – Mo wants parents to choose for their children – or Usama Hasan saying openly Koranic verses are problematic for 21st century rather than misunderstood and timeless as Mo would claim.

Ansar claimed to agree with the “European” human rights model on The Daily Politics. Yet parents do not get to enforce religious observations on children, whether fasting or veil covering and gender segregation is not “groovy” and only opposed by “swivel eyed loons” as he has claimed on twitter – if we endorse a universal human rights model. Muslims are as Mo says not a monolithic bloc – clearly they disagree with him – what actually comes out of the documentary is Mo is not so much the moderate Muslim, one that as Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra might say has to be a good human being first before a Muslim. Mo came over as an apologist and revisionist first and foremost, one concerned that women prevent men concentrating on prayer when together, but women looking at men from behind women would not be put off. For a civil rights activist Mo, you really do not seem to understand what women want.

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For Tommy talking to Muslims, and groups like Quilliam is the way forward. However the memory of his rhetoric lingers on, and Tommy seems to be moving from no mosques being built unless integration happens, to regulation of mosques for more to be built when on Newsnight. He states in the documentary: “have to keep this as a Christian country … When does tolerance become take over?” which rather undermines the secularist claims of EDL – though the emblem of the cross and motto “in this sign you will conquer” should have been enough to dissuade as a secularist organisation.

I would advise that Tommy meets up with secularists and political theorists too, to examine the concept of religious freedom and freedom from religion in a pluralistic, secular and open society. The concern is that Quilliam (and if he wants to be included if it goes wrong Mo Ansar) have given Robinson a veneer of respectability to rise beyond the football hooliganism tradition that EDL grew out of. That we can forgive his own criminal history as a bad boy who has since learnt the error of his ways, and that there is a better way. I watch to see if this is a new media career with the same rhetoric or a thoughtful activist focused on extremism not Muslims.

What has come out of all this is the importance of dialogue and listening to each other. I noticed however one listener to Tommy became angry when he suggested the Koran be reformed the same way the Bible was – though she had spent over an hour and a half mostly agreeing with his points till he concluded with that.

No one is saying this dialogue is going to be easy. People will have agendas, ideologies to defend, gravy trains, salaries and funding to keep drawing on that may make conversation and accord difficult. We might not even want an accord when it comes to veils on children, or female genital mutilation. There are limits to what can be done to another in the name of tradition and subjective opinion claimed as religious.

The death threats that Maajid Nawaz, Usama Hasan, Tom Holland, Tommy Robinson and Mo Ansar have had should indicate this is not a straight forward debate within a democracy. Hopefully moderate Muslims will not be intimidated, will speak up, and hopefully will be given a platform to speak on. Otherwise we will have more people thinking it is just a cultural difference to be respected rather than a human rights issue that cannot be reduced by a faith claim.

Mo Ansar finally arrives at the press conference, however he is not admitted. On twitter he claims to be responsible for Tommy leaving the EDL. Tommy reminds us that while incarcerated white pride types came back into EDL, and trying to prevent that and being associated with that prevented what he wanted to concentrate on – Islamic extremism. What surprises Tommy are Muslims that are working on that too and prepared to examine and historicise the Koran and Hadith. He decides leading EDL is more a hinderance than a help, and Quilliam make that easier for him, where he makes the announcement.

Mo sadly does not seem to understand that he has yet to go on his own journey of discovery. Surely another documentary needs to be made. Maybe When Tom Holland Met Mo

Update: till BBC pull down from youtube here is the documentary (hat tip Sam Harris)

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Tommy Robinson – Actions and Words Required

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“I have been considering this move for a long time because I recognise that, though street demonstrations have brought us to this point, they are no longer productive. I acknowledge the dangers of far-right extremism and the ongoing need to counter Islamist ideology not with violence but with better, democratic ideas. ~ Tommy Robinson

On hearing the news that Tommy Robinson has left the English Defence League he formed in 2009 I was hopeful, but cynical. Hopeful because he seemed to recognise the problem with street marches I had criticised the EDL for but cynical that he has changed his mind on key issues he stood for. As I said in an article he read and tweeted:

Our criticisms require us to be well heeled in knowledge of Islam and extremism without wearing jackboots ourselves. If the shoe fits I hope you find it uncomfortable and take off quickly before marching against the ideals you claim to be protecting.

As Ghaffar Hussain says, ‘The far-Right has been evolving in their tactics and strategy and seeking to adapt to their environment in order to survive. One of the outcomes of this adaption has been the attempt to hijack the anti-extremist agenda in order to drive through a hidden racist and xenophobic agenda.’

I will continue to criticise religion – but I will not welcome as fellow critics those on the far right that promote solutions that would erode secularism in this country, not encourage secularised Islam to flourish, and would deny freedoms that are the rights of all citizens in this country regardless of creed or skin colour.

At the press conference Tuesday 8 October we heard from the same Tommy Robinson who was at a demonstration a few weeks ago in Sheffield complaining about another mosque being built stating “at what point does diversity become takeover?” He claimed at the press conference that his target all along was Islamism. This revisionism just does not wash – his actions and words are too well documented unless you want to believe otherwise. The EDL under his leadership were against Muslims and he gave voice to this whether on immigration or as part of the community.

This Saturday there is to be an EDL march in Bradford. How well this is supported and by whom may give us an early indication on the organisational abilities of the group. What seems clear is that Tommy with like minded ex EDL members and co founder Kevin Carroll wish to create a new group.

This appears to be a lobby group – and Tommy has had meetings not just with the Quilliam Foundation in order to understand Islam better. However, those instincts and prejudices we have seen will die hard. The suspicion is not at all – the most we can hope for is less public agitation on the streets may make public order and community tensions easier.

That though is not in the hands of Tommy and Kevin anymore. Tommy revealed there was an attempt to usurp him whilst he was incarcerated. So this may be more a career move than a change of heart considering the inner conflicts that were looking to remove both him and Kevin. Forces he freely admits he could no longer control.

If we genuinely believe Tommy the EDL could become even worse – the question is will it disband into it’s component parts or become more potent on the streets. It would benefit all to think we can now concentrate more on radicalisation to extreme Islamism, combating militant Islamism and Islamist ideology.

We have given his character, behaviour and past actions not just the right to be sceptical but the need to be so till Tommy proves himself. Quilliam have given Tommy that opportunity. Let us see if he can seize it. He needs more than a name change this time to try and escape his past.

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