Over the past month a major change in the Muslim socio-political landscape took place. The Guardian reported some shocking incidents which have taken place in Newham, with Muslims raising their concerns about the Council’s Quilliam connection.
The report notes that since former Quilliam Foundation director Ghaffar Hussain joined Newham Council as a PREVENT officer, Islamic practices have been targeted as the basis for intervention:
“Imams point out that earlier this year a school attempted to ban the wearing of the jilbab, a long and loose-fit coat or garment worn by Muslim women, and had to back down after appeals from parents. Another free school, with 200 Muslim students, closed down its prayer room – forcing pupils to pray on Friday in the local parks.”
Similar trends have taken place since the PREVENT duty in Birmingham, where schools have attempted to change or already have changed long established dress codes and Friday prayer arrangements.
In the context of Hussain, this is unsurprising; Maajid Nawaz of Quilliam has targeted traditional Islam as the focus of attack after Islamism, while David Cameron himself has placed deformist reformists alongside “moderate Muslim voices”. Usama Hasan, meanwhile, participated in the far-right/neoconservative-linked “Muslim Reform Movement”, whose Muslim-profiling, Quran-tearing, “mainstream moderate Muslim” Asra Nomani recently declared the hijab to be “Islamist” and called on Muslim women to abandon the headscarf. Of course, bringing the hijab into the discourse of “Islamism” in neoconservative circles also makes it “extremist”.