Hizb’ut Tahrir, and the groups which split from it – including Al Muhajiroun and the Saviour Sect – are racist promoters of theocracy. Hizb itself makes great play of being non-violent. The others do not. All are likely to be banned. A new offence of “condoning or glorifying terrorism” is to be created.
It is axiomatic that any organisation which plays an active – rather than simply a passive – role in the recruitment of terrorists and in the counselling of terrorist acts should be banned. Indviduals engaged in the recruitment process should be prosecuted for treason (or more appropriately, terrorism-related offences). There is, however, a distinction to be drawn between organisations which merely “glorify and condone” terrorism and those whose contribution to terrorist acts is more specific and significant. Those organisations which do no more than “glorify” terrorism from time to time should be allowed to continue to exist: the better for others to expose them.
A novel criminal offence of “glorification and condoning” might, I suppose, be created, although I have some difficulty in imagining how such an offence might be drafted effectively. I know of no exact precedent, but such an offence would be broadly similar to the existing criminal offence “incitement to racial hatred”, which requires only that a hypothetical person is incited, and which in substance is directed at offensive racist speech which might conceivably promote and perpetuate existing racist attitudes. I am not particularly enthused by the proposal to create another such criminal offence.
However, the National Front and the British National Party – whose leaders and members have frequently and repeatedly been convicted of incitement to racial hatred and indeed for physical attacks on black people – are not banned organisations. Although we regard them with disgust, none of these groups should be banned merely for what they say. Something more is needed.
We know that Asif Hanif, the terrorist who self-detonated in Mike’s Bar in Tel Aviv, murdering 3 civilians injuring 60 more had links to Al Muhajiroun. Jermain Lindsay , one of the 7/7 bombers, is thought to have been involved in setting up an al Muhajiroun group in Berkby. It has been reported that Ramzi Mohammed was part of an al Muhajiroun linked group whcih “harangued fellow worshippers and tried to get the imam at his mosque sacked for preaching against terrorism“. Amer Mirza, who was convicted of a petrol bombing a Territorial Army base in west London was another member of the group. Al Muhajiroun’s sucessor organisation, the Saviour Sect is run by clerics who teach that it is “the duty of Muslims to be terrorists” and tell their followers:
“Yes I condemn killing any innocent people, but not any kuffar”
Given these links, Omar Bakri Mohammed’s revocation in February of 2005 of the “covenant of security” – his justification for his British followers refraining from terrorist acts in the United Kingdom – may well have been something more than an idle threat.
If Al Muhajiroun is to be be banned, a strong case should be made that it has played an active role in the commission of acts of terrorism.
The British section of Hizb’ut Tahrir was founded by Omar Bakri Mohammed in the mid 1980s, who left in 1996 to form Al Muhajiroun. I’d be fascinated to hear what difference, if any, there are between the two groups. It has occured to me that they are in fact fraternal organisations, which operate in a different manner to achieve the same goal. However, I think that is unlikely. The political goal of both Al Muhajiroun and Hizb’ut Tahrir is to abolish democracy and “restore” a repressive totalitarian theocracy – the Caliphate, which was abolished by the “Jewish criminal [sic] Mustafa Kamal” in 1924 – in what they imagine to be its “original” 7th century form. This is an object which they share with other extreme Islamist groups. The key distinction between Hizb’ut Tahrir and Al Muhajiroun is that the former claims to seek its goal only in a “non violent” manner. However, I have been directed to an article in Hizb’s magazine which describes “jihad” as an obligation, compulsory on muslims, to remove “obstacles, by force if necessary, that stand between people and Islam. This is an obligation which, according to Hizb, only crystalises when the Caliphate is restored. Still, I am not sure how this is reconcilled with non violence.
According to the Independent, Hizb’ut Tahrir has in the region of 2,000-3,000 members [pay article], although it claims to have attracted audiences as large as 10,000 to its events. In some ways, it resembles a vanguardist revolutionary socialist organisation. Here, for example is a summary of its three stage “method of work”:
The First Stage: The stage of culturing to produce people who believe in the idea and the method of the Party, so that they form the Party group.
The Second Stage: The stage of interaction with the Ummah, to let the Ummah embrace and carry Islam, so that the Ummah takes it up as its issue, and thus works to establish it in the affairs of life.
The Third Stage: The stage of establishing government, implementing Islam generally and comprehensively, and carrying it as a message to the world.
There is something quite cultish about Hizb. Pro-saudi Salafists rail against them for doctrinal error. Most Islamists are distainful of them: in this thread on MPACUK, for example, “Huthaifah” fears that her kids will be “zombified” if they read a Hizb “lifestyle” magazine. Gradualist Islamists reject their revolutionary demands: true jihadists think they are time-wasters.
Hizb is certainly a racist party, although it denies it and seeks to hide evidence of its racism. Its Danish spokesman has been convicted of disseminating racist propaganda in Denmark. The case in question involved the distribution of a racist leaflet which was hosted on a website which was run by Hizb’ut Tahrir in the United Kingdom. Indeed, its racism is what got it banned in Germany. Hizb has since learnt the importance of keeping its racism to itself, removing racist material from its website in order to allow it to dissemble more effectively when its spokesmen are interviewed.
Hizb’ut Tahrir it is a supporter of “martyrdom operations” in Israel and Iraq. I do not know what its theoretical position is on terrorism in the United Kingdom. Here is what Hizb’ut Tahrir has to say about the benefits of martyrdom:
Rewards given to the shaheed are immense. They include:
i) Their souls are in green birds dwelling in Jannah wherever they like.
ii) All their sins and faults are forgiven except debt.
iii) He can intercede for 70 of his family members.
iv) Be secure on the day of resurrection from the great terror.
v) He will not feel the agonies and stress of death.
vi) He will not be horrified by the great gathering on the day (of accountability – Yawm al-Qiyamah).
vii) He does not feel the pain of his killing except like a pinch.
It is suggested that Hizb is the start of a “conveyor belt” to terrorism: “in other words, members of Hizb take their intellectual indoctrination with them and graduate to other, even more extreme UK groups that do condone violence, such as al-Muhajiroun“. However, its link to terrorist acts in the United Kingdom is more distant. Hizb is only a conveyor belt in the sense that its members may give up on Hizb’s particular brand of lunacy and turn another more violent version of it. I do not think it recruits for Al Muhaj. Indeed, the “conveyor belt” analogy could be equally applied to certain other gradualist Islamist groups who share Hizb’s racism and their theoretical attachment for political violence, but which are not threatened with a ban at all.
If, of course, it were shown that Hizb’ut Tahrir was the theoretical wing of Al Muhajiroun, or that its leadership were in fact involved in the sort of activities in which Al Muhajiroun members engage, that would be another thing. I do not think that is correct. And even Sinn Fein was not banned.
This brings me to my last point.
Some of those who oppose the proposed bans will do so on a point of principle. Others will simply be bewildered as to why Hizb’ut Tahrir should have even been considered for inclusion on the list of banned organisations. You’d certainly get no clue to the nature of the party from this report of Hizb’ut Tahrir’s recent conference. Yesterday’s FAQ on Hizb’ut Tahrir BBC would enlighten you no further.
A ban is a very blunt weapon for dealing with racist, totalitarian, racist organisations. As I’ve suggested recently, the more important task is to ensure that, when representatives of these organisations are interviewed, or when they are featured in articles, their extreme nature is made clear. You wouldn’t read an article in the Guardian about the BNP that didn’t point out that it is a racist party which wants all “foreigners” to leave the United Kingdom. When Dr Imran Waheed appears on the Today Programme to claim that Hizb is not a racist party, he should be confronted with specific passages from those articles which have been removed his website. When he describes his enthusiasm for restoring the Caliphate, he should be asked, in terms, how it would operate. Hizb’s position, in fact, is that they are presently opposed to democracy but would permit political parties “established on the basis of Islam” elected to a parliament with very limited powers called the “Majlis al-Ummah” when the Caliphate is restored. Waheed often makes a high level reference to this system when Hizb is described as anti-democratic, claiming that non muslims would be able to participate in the system. It should be pointed out that, in fact, non muslims would be allowed only to voice “complaints in respect to unjust acts performed by the rulers or the misapplication of Islam upon them“. Interviewers should also as Waheed to expand on Hizb’s position on muslims challenging aspects of the Caliphate’s religious doctrine or abandoning their religion altogether. He thinks they should be executed.
In this battle of minds the most urgent task is to throw a spotlight on an organisation which has, for too long, been able to disguise its true totalitarian nature. Its time to take the fight to them.