Quilliam Winter Gala Fundraiser 2017

As a Quilliam supporter of some years, it was an honour, a privilege and an absolute delight to be invited to attend and see so many old friends and also make new ones.

The fight against extremism is an ardours one and in my own small capacity I had been fighting the good fight up to 3 pm on Friday, made my train with 3mins to spare, stood for the first half an hour, making it into Euston at 5.45 and my hotel by 6.15 for a 7pm start at the Reception!

I was not, therefore, feeling as up for this as I should have been however even as I arrived I instantly was reassured to see a sea of familiar faces and fell into easy conversation with many of the wonderful folk I’ve been privileged to get to know over the years.
Listening to the testimonies of people; who had been through such ordeals to escape IS in Syria; who had been horrendously disabled in Afghanistan; who had been enabled to leave the Far Right – I was moved, humbled and inspired to not only continue but to do more.

I initially thought when I sent my first tentative tweet to Maajid – actually challenging his choice of footwear not his views on extremism 🙂 that there was little that I could do to make a difference to this cause. I’m just a teacher, I’m not even Muslim. I recall Haras saying to me very early on ‘you don’t have to be black to challenge racism.’ And of course, he is correct. And of course, as a teacher there is actually a lot that I can do to challenge, to educate, to support and to promote the secular liberal values that we aspire to and need to hold onto for dear life. And of course, there is something that you can do, that we all can do. If we all do what we can, we will get there.

I believe in civil society response to reprehensible values. I believe that doing nothing and hoping for the best is not an option. I despise the culture of low expectations that time and time again I see espoused by those who should know better. I despise the notion that we should just continue to do things the way we always have in order not to cause offence. An offence may be offered but it doesn’t have to be taken. It is entirely possible to hate the sin but love the sinner. It is not only acceptable but desirable that we embrace diversity that we live and grow together not apart

I believe fundamentally that ‘he who knows the good he should do and doesn’t do it sins.’ So whilst of course I love to dress up and eat fine food with wonderful company in an impressive venue it is actually all about the cause and I urge those of us who were there on Friday to redouble our efforts and those who aren’t yet with us to join us. We can make a difference and the time is now.

As Maajid Nawaz said ‘here’s to the next 10 years.’

Thanks to all at Quilliam especially Naz for organising such a memorable event.

Join the Quilliam Circle here to support our work here.

Review by our Circle friend Susanna Craig