Former Islamist Ed Husain felt the denial of a visa by the United Kingdom to Dr Yusuf Al Qaradawi, the well-known Islamic scholar based in Doha, was absolutely justified. Speaking to The Peninsula at the Four Seasons Hotel yesterday, Husain said: “He is a man who speaks two languages. There should be no exceptions in condemning the deaths of innocent people. When it comes to Jews, he thinks it is favourable to kill. It was right to refuse him a visa to the UK because his views have an audience there.” Husain, along with Maajid Nawaz, has just launched the Quilliam Foundation. It is named after Sheikh William Henry Abdullah Quilliam, an English solicitor and convert to Islam who founded the UK’s first mosque in Liverpool in the 19th century. The aim of the Foundation is to present Islam’s moderate viewpoint as opposed to the venom spewed out by radical elements. “On Muslim-related issues, it is jihadists and Islamists who dominate the airwaves (in the UK). We will give these a counter-balance,” said Husain. This could be done by use of the scriptures, which presents the true meanings and beliefs.
Two former Islamists are to launch a Muslim thinktank aimed at improving relations with the west by challenging extremist ideologies. The Quilliam Foundation believes Muslims should shake off the “cultural baggage of the Indian subcontinent” and the “political burdens of the Arab world”. Its director is Maajid Nawaz, 30, who was adopted as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International after being jailed in Egypt for membership of Hizb ut-Tahrir. Since returning to London he has written pamphlets criticising the party. His deputy is Ed Husain, 32, the author of The Islamist, which details his youth in east London moving through radical groups including Hizb ut-Tahrir. The policy institute, to be launched next month, is named after Shaikh William Henry Abdullah Quilliam, an English solicitor and convert, who founded the UK’s first mosque in Liverpool at the end of the 19th century. Nawaz insists the foundation is independent. “[The money has come] mainly from Middle Eastern businessmen and Muslims who are concerned about how Islam is being abused.” Owen Bowcott and Riazat Butt reports.