On Tuesday 28th September, Quilliam co-hosted a fringe event at the Labour party conference in Manchester. In partnership with the Labour think tank Progress, the event discussed the issue of ‘How should the Left engage with Islamists’. The four speakers were Hazel Blears MP, former Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, Ed Husain, Co-Director & Co-Founder of Quilliam, Shahid Mursaleen, Spokesman for Minhaj-ul-Quran UK, and Jamie Bartlett, Head of the Violence & Extremism Programme at Demos. The event was chaired by Mehdi Hassan, Senior Editor (politics) of the New Statesman.


It was generally agreed by all speakers that the Left should be at the forefront of proactively challenging the bigoted and dangerous ideological assumptions of Islamists, in opposition to what has too often been a liberal paralysis among the Left. The speakers then discussed the nature of how this engagement (or disengagement) should take place – a fine balance is required whereby the Left is able to challenge Islamist ideologies without endorsing them. Issues discussed included who Labour politicians should be sharing platforms with, formally and informally meeting with, what the topics of conversation should be, and what the desired end result is.


Questions raised by the audience included how to challenge Islamist ideologies more effectively, the role of shared spaces, the role of the media in inflaming tensions, the nature of the term ‘Islamist’, and whether or not Islamists (such as the Islamic Forum of Europe members) should be welcomed as members of the Labour party.


To complement the theme of the Quilliam-Progress fringe event, Progress published an article by Lucy James, Research Fellow at Quilliam, on their website. To view the article, ‘How should the British Left engage with Islamists?’, click here