A Letter in response to 'Ex-Islamists start moderate thinktank'
7th March 2008
Dear Reader's Editor,
I am writing to query a story, 'Ex-Islamists start moderate thinktank', that was published in the Guardian on Saturday 1st March 2008.
There are a few points I wish to raise:
1. If Maajid Nawaz and Ed Husain are the yardstick by which you now define those who are 'moderate', then I am afraid that the vast majority of British Muslims will find themselves labelled as extremists. As you must know, both Ed Husain and Maajid Nawaz have been lauded by neo-conservative groups. Ed Husain is on record as supporting the war against Iraq, smearing leading Islamic institutions in the UK, denying the phenomenon of Islamophobia, advocating the banning of Hizb ut-Tahrir, urging the police to 'stop pussyfooting around' in their dealings with Muslims, and supporting the government's refusal to grant Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi a visa to visit the UK for medical treatment. These are not positions that I believe most British Muslims would recognise as being 'moderate'.
2. The report claims that 'past counter-extremist initiatives have been condemned by Islamists as the work of apostates - those deviating from traditional interpretations of Islam.' What evidence is there for this assertion? If the reporters had some specific incidents in mind then surely it would have been appropriate to refer to them.
3. The final paragraph contained a remark from Usama Hasan who was described as being the 'director of the City Circle which promotes a British Muslim identity' welcoming the formation of the Quilliam Foundation. As Usama Hasan is explicitly listed as being on the Board of Advisors to the Quilliam Foundation (http://www.quilliamfoundation.org/Advisors.htm) I believe this should have been clearly stated in the Guardian story. In addition, would it not have been appropriate to approach someone from a mainstream Muslim organsation - not connected to the Quilliam Foundation - for comment on this development?
Mr Inayat Bunglawala,
Muslim Council of Britain
PO Box 57330,