Quiz a Muslim panel on way to West Midlands
A controversial Question Time-style event where extremist views are openly expressed is set to come to the West Midlands next month.
Quiz a Muslim first ran in Bedford on the night of the Paris terror attacks in front of a packed crowd of 240 people – around 30 of whom were non-Muslim.
It featured panellists including former University of Wolverhampton student Moazzam Begg, who was held at Guantanamo Bay for nearly three years before being released without charge.
Among the topics debated were ISIS, Sharia law, the forming of an Islamic state, arranged marriages, homosexuality within Islam and female genital mutilation.
Now organisers have told the Express & Star they are searching for a suitable venue in Birmingham to host a similar event in December. A future date in the Black Country is also a possibility as part of plans to take the show around the country.
Dilly Hussain, deputy editor of Muslim news site 5Pillars and event organiser, said: "The West Midlands is definitely our next destination and we are looking to put a panel together in Birmingham next month.
"We want to take it to the main cities first. After that Wolverhampton, Walsall, Tipton, other places with Muslim communities. We will only go where we are invited."
Mr Hussain said Mr Begg, who was charged with seven terrorism-related offences last year before the CPS dropped the case, was likely to feature on the panel.
He is also planning to invite head of Birmingham Stop the War Coalition Salma Yaqoob and Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood, who has spoken out over the threat of radicalisation.
The Bedford event was shrouded in controversy and featured Mr Begg reportedly rejecting the concept of British values and referring to the Prime Minister as 'an extremist'.
He said David Cameron has transcended principals of British values by hosting world leaders who are renowned for human rights abuses.
Meanwhile another panellist, Taji Mustafa, of radical Islamic organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir, gave his backing for the caliphate, an Islamic government under Sharia law. Mr Hussain, who said he had received death threats and hate mail since the debate, added: "There will be elements that people are going to find distasteful.
"The idea is to have an open and frank discussion on issues that are, for many people, taboo. It is no holds barred. It seems that everyone is allowed to discuss issues such as Islamic State and female genital mutilation apart from Muslims.
"I want to change all that and let people have their say. Voicing support for caliphate in the Muslim world is not a crime. Mustafa was quite within his rights to say that and be challenged on it.
"Controversy is in the eye of the beholder. If we don't have an open dialogue some views will be forced underground and people will be drawn towards extremism." Other panellists at the Bedford event included the scholar Sheikh Al Haddad, who has labelled homosexuality a 'scourge' and a 'criminal act' and once called jihad 'one of the most virtuous acts to Allah' .
Hardline imam Suliman Gani also featured. In the past he appeared on television and described homosexuality as 'unnatural'. He opposes abortion and has said women are subservient to men, claiming they should never become leaders.
Radical cleric Abdur Raheem Green was also on the panel. He is known to harbour aggressively anti-Semitic views and once claimed the World Trade Center was demolished rather than being destroyed in an attack by extremists.
The list of confirmed panellists and venue for the Birmingham event is set to be confirmed later this month. Mr Hussain said he hoped the event would provide a 'robust' discussion on topics, including extremism.
"The issue of radicalisation is multi-causal," he added. "There are so many aspects to consider. Lack of education and mental health issues can lead to an acceptance of fringe views.
"I'm upset at the role that Britain has had in the Middle East. My own way of dealing with it is to write about it, attend demonstrations and lobby MPs. The Quiz A Muslim event is an extension of this."
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