“Last week the Guardian revealed that Ed Husain, co-director of the government-funded thinktank the Quilliam Foundation (QF), believes that spying on British Muslims who are ‘not committing terrorist offences’ is ‘good and right’. He has expressed some pretty extreme views in the past, but this is beyond anything that anyone who believes in liberal democracy could extol….
“QF subsequently issued a press release and its other director, Maajid Nawaz, wrote an article of strange double-speak proclaiming that QF does not in fact support ‘mass spying’ nor ‘a police state’. Well here is how his co-director described the Prevent strategy that funds QF. ‘A government initiative backed by millions of pounds. It’s got access to tens of thousands of people’s emails, phone numbers, etc etc. Isn’t the government going to use it? Of course it is. And it should use it.’
“These statements strike me as quite appallingly illiberal: wrong in principle because the police should not investigate innocent people and very obviously damaging in practice. However, Nawaz has clearly decided that the best way to deal with the authoritarian pronouncements of his co-director is to divert attention under the belief that contradiction is better than retraction….
“Husain said that ‘It would be morally wrong of a taxpayer-funded programme designed to prevent terrorism if it was not designed to gather intelligence in order to stop that terrorism from happening.’… Unless a crime has been committed or is about to be committed there is no reason why any innocent person should be reported to the police. Husain, in particular, ought to know the difference between a police state – especially since his co-director was until recently in such a state’s prisons – and a developed liberal democracy….
“QF is currently cosying up to the Conservative party to ensure its role under the next government. It would not be a bad thing if that party’s first cost-cutting exercise was to stop funding an organisation that has come to represent the toxic juncture at which intense personal ambition and government propaganda meet.”
Douglas Murray at Comment is Free, 23 October 2009
And who could disagree? What is bizarre, however, is that this critique comes from Douglas Murray of all people. This is the man who, addressing the Pim Fortuyn Memorial Conference in 2006, wrote: “It is late in the day, but Europe still has time to turn around the demographic time-bomb which will soon see a number of our largest cities fall to Muslim majorities. It has to. All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop…. Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board.”
What explains this falling out between individuals most of us would think had a lot in common? Well, relations between Murray’s Centre for Social Cohesion and the Quilliam Foundation have been strained ever since James Brandon left the CSC a year ago to join Quilliam as its Senior Research Fellow and Head of Communications. Explaining his move from the CSC, Brandon wrote: “My time there was a constant struggle to ‘de-radicalise’ Murray and to ensure that the centre’s output targeted only Islamists – and not Muslims as a whole. This October, however, I had finally had enough of this constant battle and resigned.”
But we suspect the reason why Murray has decided to lash out now is to be found in the final paragraph we’ve quoted. Does he perhaps resent the fact that Ed and his mates have been “cosying up to the Conservative party” rather more successfully than Murray has, and that Quilliam rather than the CSC looks set to be the beneficiary of government largesse in the event of a Tory victory in next year’s general election?