In my email exchange with Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain last week, I underestimated how adept he was at avoiding my questions. I wanted to explore the various ways in which we could tackle violent extremism; he only wanted to talk about the impact of the Iraq war (which I accepted ‘exacerbates’ the problem but he didn’t want to move on from that).
Inayat Bunglawala later adds: “HT are, however, a non-violent party and have every right to spread their ideas peacefully. As I said earlier, you seem to huff and puff a lot, but you just don’t seem to have anything of substance to offer on this topic.”
Let’s see shall we.
Exhibit A: A saved Hizb ut-Tahrir leaflet from 2001 in English is titled, ‘The Muslim Ummah will never submit to the Jews‘. It also includes these passages: “In origin, no one likes the Jews except the Jews. Even the themselves rarely like each other…. The American people do not like the Jews nor do the Europeans, because the Jews by their very nature do not like anyone else.” There is more anti-semitism contained in there.
Exhibit B: Another leaflet on one of their websites ‘Islamic State’ has a leaflet talking about killing Jews “where ever you find them”.
Exhibit C: A HuT activist getting arrested and convicted for inciting hatred in Denmark. The party is also banned in Germany and other European countries for doing the same.
Exhibit D: Their constitution, which I saved on my blog before they took it down, says that all apostates who leave Islam should be killed.
Exhibit E: For a Newsnight programme in 2003 a camouflaged Mosque leader says: “I believe that if Hizb Ut Tahrir are not stopped at this stage, and we continue to let them politicise and pollute the youngsters minds and other gullible people minds, then what will happen in effect is that these terrorism acts and these suicide bombings that we hear going on around in foreign countries, we will actually start seeing these incidents happening outside our doorsteps.”
Exhibit F: A march in London organised by HuT not long ago, Asim Qureshi from Stop Political Terror, who has repeatedly shared a platform with HuT, says: “…we see Hezbollah defeating the armies of Israel, we know what the solution is, and where the victory lies … we know that it is incumbent upon all of us to support the jihad of our brothers and sisters in these countries when they are facing the oppression of the West.”
At the same rally a HuT poster reads: “Send Muslim armies to defend the innocent.”
Exhibit G: Writer Zia Sardar, who has decades of experience in Muslim politics from around the world, explains: “In fact, violence is central to HT’s goals. Its primary objective is to establish a caliphate. It seeks, I have been told on numerous occasions, a “great Islamic state” ruled by a single caliph who would apply Islam “completely to all Islamic lands” and eventually to “the whole world”. What would be applied “completely” is the sharia, Islamic law.
“No wonder they recognise no compromise. Their ideology argues that there is only one way Muslims can or should be ruled, that those who form this caliphate have the right to rule, that all others must submit unconditionally and that only this political interpretation of Islam is valid and legitimate. In other words, the caliphate of Hizb ut-Tahrir’s vision can be established only by doing violence to all other interpretations of Islam and all Muslims who do not agree with it – not to mention the violence it must do to the rest of the world, which also must eventually succumb.”
Exhibit H: The MCB’s own Abdurahman says on CIF: “Some HuT members had in the past even offered fatwas against the MCB including one calling for the death of Inayat.” Inayat hurriedly distances himself from those comments by declaring that Abdurahman is “talking nonsense”.
A peaceful group?
Given all the above there are a few points I’d like to make:
1) On Pickled Politics and CIF I have continually highlighted stories where newspapers have lied or exaggerated about Muslims [See: this, this, this, this, this, this, this, or this] because I believe they fit into an atmosphere of demonisation that leads to increased attacks against them. The MCB follows the same line of thinking and has repeatedly talked about ‘growing Islamophobia in the media’.
So if we assume then that propaganda, literature and lies based on hatred can lead people to hurt or kill others out of spite, why not apply this same logic to members of Hizb ut-Tahrir or its off-shoots such as Al-Muhajiroun (now defunct but they pop up in other guises)? Why not apply that logic to the preachers seen on Channel 4′s ‘Undercover Mosque’ Dispatches film and those the MCB’s affiliates invite here?
2) Rather co-indentally, there has also been an increase in anti-semitism across university campuses.
3) I’m not in favour of banning HuT. Vile as they may be their hatred and propaganda mirrors that of the BNP. At least the former does not get public money.
What I would like to see is so-called “community leaders”, from all faiths, accepting the impact of religious extremists within their own midst and taking on their arguments openly. And yet Inayat Bungalwala seems a tad bit reticent about this prospect. Could it be because he has claimed, live on Pakistani TV while next to a member of HuT, that it should be the duty of every Muslim to be in favour of a Khilafah (Caliphate)? In other words he might disagree with some of their methods but not their aims.
Could this be why last week Inayat is more fixated with Iraq than extremist groups closer to home? After all, as many Muslims too have pointed out, just blaming Iraq is a cop-out. Otherwise they would all be blowing themselves up.
Could it be because social alienation, lack of job opportunities and other socio-economic factors are not sexy enough to campaign about? It is obvious that directly tackling violent extremism is not something the MCB can do – they don’t have the capacity, willingness nor ability. They can only highlight and discuss issues and yet even here so much double-speak is used to render any conversation useless.
More than just tackling violent extremism however, taking on the arguments and ideals of such racists is a vital part of furthering social cohesion. But why should any sane Jew, Hindu or Sikh group take the MCB seriously if they make no effort to distance themselves from such groups?
They present themselves to be more of a barrier to social cohesion, by showing British Muslims in a bad light, than an ally.
[Strawman disclaimer: I have always been against the war in Iraq.]
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