To lionise former extremists feeds anti-Muslim prejudice

Ziauddin Sardar“When one sinner repents, says the biblical adage, there is much joy in heaven. So the angels, along with the government, must be rejoicing at the launch of the Quilliam Foundation. The thinktank has been established by not one but two repentant sinners: Ed Husain and Maajid Nawaz, ex-members of the extremist Islamic cult Hizb ut-Tahrir.

“On earth, however, I would suggest a greater degree of caution. In the here and now, it’s not the repentant sinners we should celebrate but ‘the 99 righteous persons who need no repentance’, those unmentioned Muslims who refused to be seduced by the dark side….

“The embrace of former extremists is a slap in the face for Muslims who have worked tirelessly to build a British Muslim identity and foster inclusion by constructive community activity. It’s another attempt at the marginalisation of the overwhelming majority who never had a moment’s doubt that Islam gives no sanction for such murderous and misguided perversion of belief.

“… we don’t need neocon ex-extremists to tell us what extremism is about. They are part of the problem, not the solution. But we do need a viable politics that tackles the root cause of extremism.”

Ziauddin Sardar in the Guardian, 24 April 2008

See also Yusuf Smith’s post on Ed Husain at Indigo Jo Blogs, 23 April 2008