Hizb utTahrir

Another controversial da'waist movement active across Europe is the Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Party of Liberation), HT. Some view HT as an outlet for radical Islamist sentiments but nevertheless a legitimate political party that gives voice to popular feelings that would otherwise be channeled into openly subversive activities. Critics see the Hizb itself as a thin cover for radical recruitment and organization.13

Hizb ut-Tahrir was founded in Jerusalem in 1953 with the avowed goal of restoring the Islamic Caliphate, the Khilafah. Intense repression sharply curbed the group's activities in the Arab Middle East, and it is banned in most of the Muslim world. This caused it to relocate elsewhere—to western Europe, to Russia, and to the nations of postSoviet central Asia, where it has often been associated with violent activism. Russian authorities ban the group as a dangerous manifestation of Islamist subversion. It is in western Europe, though, that it has attracted the liveliest media attention. The group first came to public attention in England in the mid-1990s with a national conference and a major rally in Trafalgar Square, and it recruited heavily on college campuses, among students of Middle Eastern and south Asian origins.14

That the group is radical is beyond question, and it praises suicide attacks in Israel. But is it a direct threat to European nations? Its ideo logical statements claim not. The party is pledged to "struggle against the rulers in the Arab and Muslim countries . . . and acting also to remove their regimes so as to establish the Islamic rule in its place," which is avowedly revolutionary. But for the "Kufr [infidel] colonialist states," the Hizb aspires only to fight "colonialism in all its intellectual, political, economic and military forms, [and this] involves exposing its plans, and revealing its conspiracies in order to deliver the Ummah from its control and to liberate it from any effect of its influence." Read literally, that implies no plan to overthrow Western regimes.15

Some critics are less sanguine about the group. U.S. analyst Tony Corn suggests that Hizb and like groups "are in fact in symbiosis with jihadist networks (al-Qaeda), each playing its part in the Islamist version of the 'good cop, bad cop' routine." Some European nations have come to share this view. In 2005, Germany proscribed Hizb ut-Tahrir and deported some leading militants. The group's legal status elsewhere remains fragile. In Denmark, Hizb activists earned notoriety during the cartoon controversy, and some members were publicly quoted espousing violent extremism. The group's Danish leader is a Palestinian, Abdul Latif, who in 2002 was charged with distributing hate literature that praised suicide bombers as martyrs. In 2004, he urged Muslims to "go help your brothers in Falluja [Iraq] and exterminate your rulers if they block your way"—though, as he stressed, his message was intended to inspire fighters in the Middle East rather than in Europe itself. By 2006, even tolerant Britain was debating a formal ban on Hizb operations.16

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