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Controversial ‘counter-extremism’ think tank Quilliam Foundation closes down

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Maajid Nawaz defected from the pan-Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir to the British establishment in 2006

A controversial so-called “counter-extremism” think tank has closed down citing financial problems brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Originally set up in 2007 with Home Office funding, the Quilliam Foundation took its name from the 19th century British Muslim convert Abdullah Quilliam.

The Quilliam Foundation was set up Maajid Nawaz, Ed Husain and Rashad Zaman Ali, all former members of the pan-Islamic organization Hizb ut-Tahrir.

While Zaman and Husain left the Quilliam Foundation shortly after its establishment, Nawaz stayed on as its director and moved it towards increasingly extremist positions which incensed British Islamic organizations and community leaders.

Describing itself in grandiose terms as the “world’s first counter-extremism organization”, the Quilliam Foundation under Nawaz’s leadership dedicated much of its resources to rationalizing and promoting the British government’s policies towards the Muslim community.

For that reason Nawaz became a figure of hate and ridicule in equal measure, as demonstrated by social media’s reaction to the closing down of his organization.

While the precise reasons for the closure are unknown at this stage, it would appear that the gradual eclipse of the government’s core counter-extremism strategy, known as Prevent, may have something to do with it.   

The appointment of the right-wing writer and ideologue, William Shawcross, as the supposedly “independent” reviewer of Prevent was a clear indication that even the Home office had begun to lose faith in the controversial - and some would argue counter-productive - strategy.

Viewed in that context, the closure of the Quillliam Foundation is a direct blow to the British government’s attempts at selling its counter-terrorism and counter-extremism policies to the UK’s Muslim community.

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