On 3rd December 2009, Quilliam co-director Ed Husain addressed a group of students at Manchester University on the topic ‘Islamism in the UK: Past, Present and Future’. The talk, which was organized by post-graduate students of Middle Eastern studies, was attended by students from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds.
Ed began by examining what separates Islamism from Islam, focusing on how Islamists have adopted certain innovations, including the equation of Shari’ah with state law, requiring sovereignty to belong to God and the idea of the Ummah as being a political bloc. He then moved on to examine the development of Islamist movements in the UK from the establishment of the first Islamist groups in the 1960s through to the 1990s and the arrival of many Middle Eastern Islamist ideologues as political refugees and then looking at the impact of 9/11 and 7/7 on Islamism in the UK. He ended by looking at the new discourses which have flourished since 2005 and how they have caused the marginalization of Islamist groups by showing that Islamism is no longer relevant to the interests and concerns of young British citizens who are Muslim.
This talk was followed by a lively question and answer session ranging from the role of Quilliam in debate and the media’s portrayal of Muslims to how Muslims should be represented in the UK, the fiqh of minorities and the authority of the Qur’an. After the question and answer session, Ed was then able to discuss these issues in further detail with the post-graduate students who had organized the event.