April 27, 2008

New Muslim thinktank condemns violence

by David Masters

A UK-based group of ex-radical Islamists have set up a new Muslim thinktank to bring together Islamic voices opposing violence and extremism.

The thinktank – named the Quilliam Foundation after a 19th century British convert to Islam who set up the first UK mosque – was launched yesterday at the British Museum.

Its director Maajid Nawaz is a former Islamist who spent four years in an Egyptian prison for being a recruiter for the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir.

The aim of the Quilliam Foundation is to reclaim Islam from the violent ideology of Al Qaida.

Quilliam says that the version of Islam it offers is much more traditional than the hatred being peddled in the named of Islam by extremist groups.

Quilliam aims to develop arguments against extremism from within the Islamic tradition, rather than by appealing to Western secularism. It will be calling for Muslim leaders to condemn acts of violence and terror committed in the name of Islam.

The thinktank will seek guidance from mainstream Muslim scholars, and is being widely supported by academics and politicians alike.

However, opponents of Quilliam have called it a ‘poodle of the West’ and have accused its leaders of defecting from Islam.

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