Back in 2006, the then Prime Minister Tony Blair had come under massive criticism both within his party but also from all the major UK Muslim organisations for his silence over Israel’s murderous bombardment of Lebanon. Just about all the main world leaders had vocally condemned Israel’s criminal onslaught on Lebanon but not so Blair and Bush.
Not long after that, the UK government announced a new approach to UK Muslims saying it was ‘recalibrating’ its relationship with them. New and far more docile organisations such as the Sufi Muslim Council were founded and funded by New Labour. In 2008 the Quilliam Foundation was launched and soon attracted funding worth several million pounds from the Home Office and the Foreign Office.
The Quilliam Foundation made all the right noises about the main causes of terrorism ie playing down the role of our warmongering abroad and backing for nasty regimes while promoting the idea that ‘Islamist ideology’ was the main engine behind violent extremism.
The only problem was that despite all the lavish funding, plush offices, sharp suits and the latest technology, the Quilliam Foundation was quickly discredited in the eyes of UK Muslims with its repeated attempts to smear mainstream organisations as being ‘Islamists’ and its support for spying on UK Muslims. By funding Quilliam, the government only succeeded in building greater barriers with UK Muslims.
The government received many complaints from UK Muslim organisations about the QF and last December, a long-time QF supporter, Paul Goodman announced that Quilliam could face closure because the government was severely reducing its funding.
Recent days have seen a number of Quilliam’s biggest supporters coming out to urge the government to continue funding it. And who are they? Well, we have Nick Cohen writing in support of QF on his blog at the Spectator; the political editor of the Jewish Chronicle Martin ‘The Great Koran Con Trick’ Bright writing a piece entitled ‘Quilliam: a thinktank we must save’; Robert Halfon MP – a former political director of the Conservative Friends of Israel and whom I wrote about last month – has tabled an early day motion in parliament calling on continued funding for Quilliam.
As the good folks over at Islamophobia Watch conclude, “Says it all really.”