On 11th February 2009, the Quilliam Foundation issued the following press release:
The Quilliam Foundation has announced its opposition to the decision by the Home Office to ban Geert Wilders, the Dutch MP, from the UK. The Quilliam Foundation believes that although many of Wilders’ public statements are bigoted, ill-informed and offensive to people of all faiths, this is not an adequate reason to prevent him from coming to the UK.
The Quilliam Foundation says that Wilders’ ideas should be challenged through debate – not through government intervention that may only make him a martyr to his supporters.
The directors of the Quilliam Foundation therefore challenge Geert Wilders to an open and public debate on Islam and its compatibility with European values.
Maajid Nawaz, Director of the Quilliam Foundation, says:
“Banning Geert Wilders from the UK is not the solution. Just as the ideas of non-violent Islamist groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir should be tackled through debate and argument, so should those of Wilders and others. Freedom of speech should be protected – so long as people do not use this freedom to call for violence against others.
“Wilders has evidently been convinced by the words and actions of Islamists and jihadists that Islam is inherently violent and intolerant. We therefore challenge him to an open debate in which we will argue that Islam is not an inherently violent religion and that, contrary to what he apparently believes, Muslims are not a threat to Europe and its values.”
Ed Husain, the co-Director of the Quilliam Foundation, says:
“Geert Wilders is undoubtedly an ill-informed, hate-driven bigot with many unpleasant views but he is not directly inciting violence. As a result, unlike in the case of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, I do not support the decision to ban him from the UK. By threatening parliament with a mob, Lord Ahmed is contributing to the negative portrayal of Muslims and their religion.”
The Quilliam Foundation has:
Opposed proposals to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir
Challenged Hizb ut-Tahrir to an open debate
Supported the decision to prevent Yusuf al-Qaradawi from entering the UK
In addition, Ed Husain, Quilliam’s co-Director, has defended Islam in a public debate with Ayaan Hirsi Ali