by Sid H Arthur - Muslim Extremism 30 Sep 2007 11:33 pm

How I became a Muslim Extremist

On Panorama, BBC1, this Monday at 8.30 p.m.:How I became a Muslim extremist
What is it like to actually be an extremist and serve the political goals of radical Islam?

What is it like to think like an extremist and adopt an ideology that demands you abandon all aspects of your former life - including your friends and family?

On Monday’s Panorama Shiraz Maher exclusively tells his story.

He is a former member of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), a radical organisation campaigning for the creation of caliphate - an Islamic state. It operates in many countries.Shiraz makes the case for a re-think of how the government should de-radicalise people like himself.

He tells how after 9/11, he had a chance conversation with a HT member at a mosque and within weeks became a member of the cell.

The cell thought that democracy was incompatible with Islam, that the state of Israel should be destroyed, and that Shariah law should be imposed over the entire world with violence being used to achieve this.

Shiraz rose through the ranks to become a regional leader of HT.

It soon dominated his whole life - from refusing to go to family weddings because the women were not segregated, to recruiting as many people as possible to the cause.

While at Cambridge University he even tried to recruit Kafeel Ahmed into HT, who was later alleged to be part of the attack on Glasgow airport.

Shiraz has now ‘come-out’ and now wants to expose HT for the organisation it is.

HT Britain is trying to market itself as a conciliatory and moderate organisation that condemns violence as a means to achieve political ends.

With access to other former HT insiders, and HT literature the group wanted to keep hidden, Shiraz will reveal that HT Britain’s conciliatory approach is merely a crude facade that conceals the same radical and extreme views.

Update (1 October):

The BBC Panorama documentary on Hizbut Tahrir on Shiraz Maher (former Hizbut Tahrir senior) aired today and can be seen here. The documentary is essential viewing and will disabuse anyone of the illusion that the Hizbut Tahrir is a “benign, progressive Muslim organisation”.

12 Responses to “How I became a Muslim Extremist”

  1. on 01 Oct 2007 at 8:19 am 1.Rezwan said …

    Hizbut Tahrir in Bangladesh is also adopting non-violent protest for the dead cartoon issue. They demand the progressive newspapers like Prothom Alo to be banned. This is a ploy to make a show off to the progressives in the society that they are very much there and they can play their tricks. The govt. is sadly being played.

    At the same time I saw Hizbut Tahrir protesting the cartoon issue in London. Why make this international? How dare the HT leaders say that the mere cartoon did hurt 140 million Muslims in Bangladesh (sense of figure noted) and the whole Muslim Ummah. I mean how do they know? Was there a survey in the whole Muslim world? How can a mere cartoon effect so many people?

    I can see where it is all going. If HT is not stopped soon they will create havoc I can tell you.

  2. on 01 Oct 2007 at 9:36 pm 2.sid said …

    Well I think HT in Bangladesh are working to the strategy that if they say something loud enough and say it repeatedly then it will be accepted as a truth, no matter how unrelated it is to content and tone of the original offence. This is classic HT tactics. Their claims about the Arifur cartoon is clearly a bunch of lies and misrepresentation.
    HuT rejected the forgiving of Prothom Alo editor Matiur Rahman by the khatib of Baitul Mukarram mosque, Obaidul Huq, saying when Allah and his prophet did not forgive defamation of him or his prophet, who is the khatib to forgive them.

    Notice the shameless conflating, the twisting of the Quran and Sunnah out of any context. He’s peddling lies to keep an innocent man in prison.

  3. on 06 Oct 2007 at 11:44 am 3.ruzina said …

    Ht are pathetic. I agree with sid. They just repeat slogans about khalifa and umma. They never talk about issues that ordinary people care for like schools, jobs, finance etc. They always looking to cause division and the controversy.

  4. on 06 Oct 2007 at 12:05 pm 4.fugstar said …

    Saw the Panorama programme, the comically shady arab voice overs of press statements were particularly fun. Who cares about insight and understanding if you have the microphone. What a strange chap, joining HT after 2001.

    Majids the more interesting case though.

    HT have been inflitrated at the higher levels with pakistani people who were extremely on the othereside before they saw the HT light, who think they are clever but are being used. Meanwhile naive sincere members of the Bengali qaum of east london do the leafleting…

    Tony’s Battle of ideas will take advantage and use them again and again in future. no wonder they werent banned!

    Meanwhile sarfraz manzoor writes a book with some skill.

  5. on 06 Oct 2007 at 12:46 pm 5.Sid H Arthur said …

    Seeing Shiraz Maher on the film, he comes across as someone who is intellectually rigorous (while he was in HT from 2001, he was very much an intellectual member of the group and was responsible for generating a lot of the written output and intellectual theorising while he was in it).

    But he seemed a little out of touch with his own feelings. This might be to do with still being in a period of de-programming from the HT.

    Muslim radicaslism is arrested development of both the mind and emotional aspects. He also seems racked by self-doubt, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I think this sense of self-doubt rescued him from the religious chauvinism which is at the heart of Hizbut Tahrir ideology.

  6. on 06 Oct 2007 at 3:19 pm 6.fugstar said …

    I disagree. he comes accross as really thick. Oh and his white establishment freind was soooooo ugly and torylooking.

    The group falsly prides itself on its argumentative abilities and intellectualism. They dont have much emphasis on character development. The more impressive member have a lot of charm, wit and cool though. I think HTs have the most fun out of all the groups.

    HT bredren tend to come from pretty secular backgrounds with little religious pedigree going on, so i see them a little differently. For some, the HT thing is a first step, a gateway to the deen, strange but true.

    I love the ‘look i gave up women for HT…. and i was in there you know. thats how committed i am’ vibe of the defectors though. gotta laugh.

    Look we dont know if anybody ‘got’ to him, majid and ‘ed’. I like to make excuses for ma brudders, because other wise i’ll start invoking Mir Jafars, Musalyamas…. I never got the impression that he has actually deepened his knowledge and care for the Ummah.

    Pamphlet writing is like blogging, it is intellectual self pleasurement. Which is why the whole bangladeshi secularist stormtrooper engagement with ‘HuT’, ‘hijbut’ very chucklevision.

    Misleading people is foolish, but unfortunately not criminal. HTites are never violent, so feeding deshis with information suggesting that they are is misleading.

  7. on 06 Oct 2007 at 5:26 pm 7.Sid said …

    I disagree. he comes accross as really thick. Oh and his white establishment freind was soooooo ugly and torylooking.

    People in glass houses… :-)

    I’ve read his previous work and he writes like a demon. You might want to learn a few things from him fugstar before you diss his writing abilities.

    It must be so hard for an HT afficianado such as yourself, to see these people peel away from the cult and then proceed to pile on the de-programming angst on their former cult.

    You call them Mir Jafars (traitors). That says everything. I call them people who have matured enough to take control of the psychic disorder that made them want to fill a hole in their personality with a cult. I expect to see many more people like Majid and Maher.

    The problem is that as HT becomes fossilised in the UK it will start to take on the role of arena rock band in the East. That Indonesian stadium HT rock conference was very worrying indeed.

  8. on 06 Oct 2007 at 6:08 pm 8.fugstar said …

    Yes thats a very telling christian ethic you just allowed to ooze out of your manufactured common sense, would you turn the other cheek now! Maybe he writes better than he talks and televisually presents.

    I’m hardly ht-phillic, just wary of insidiously confessional informants. People who go partisan are prone to extremism wherever they are and whatever they do.

    the indonesia conference looks interesting, especially that play he narrated. however they are lucky to have interesting balanced grass roots and blossoming movements there in muhammadiyah and nahdatul alama, look them up look at how the later was able to purge its ‘killing the communists’ demons by instigating and internal truth commission initiative. HT is n’t a worry. its a very small thing.

    Maher knows that the brit public knows didly piddle about indonesia, thats why he used it. Its probably an old HT trick that a mature muslim would have grown beyond.

  9. on 07 Oct 2007 at 12:49 am 9.Sid H Arthur said …

    Don’t knock Christain ethics. Muhammed (SAW) had a high regard for their author and you wouldn’t have benefitted from an education without them. You should count yourself lucky that you can now comunicate in incomplete, hyperbolic sentences.

    But HT is growing in Bangladesh, where stabilising social and political moderate Modernist Islamic movements like the Muhamadiyyah and the NU do not exist. I

    nstead we have the old school Wahhabi funded JI which hold little appeal to the young. But HT and their mix of slick presentation and simplistic utopianism compounded with the presence of large numbers of disaffected young men could be a lethal combo.

  10. on 07 Oct 2007 at 3:00 am 10.fugstar said …

    Theres a different between whats Paulian and what Isa alayhi assalam taught no? I try to reinforce my house and dipatch carrier pigeons. Islamic akhlaq has its own character.

    Though JI do unfairly hog ears and wallets more to their tuning i wouldnt call it wahabi funded. There are lots of different jamati types. they are sustainable now, and do attract young people and inswinging ex lefties.

    HT are slick by deshi standards and utopian. but then so are the commies and the militant religion haters. I was kinda hoping that they all cancel eachother out, and i think thats whats happening.

    A small group like HT doesnt hit the public mind through votes, but the symbol of khilafa, i feel is a surrogate for hope, dignity and empowerment. Its a test for the secular side to get beyond the jamat specific 71 stuff and talk about their vision of a just society where the sacred element is not sneered upon, and for the established islamist block to accept that they actually dont have a monopoly on sociospiritual stuff.

    Where HT and say CPB have common ground… on the whole screw the ADB IMF WB thing, Isn’t their scope for interaction a la STW?… unless people are just plain vain.

    A really decent islamic party in bangladesh, sauf baggage, could do wonders for the nation. One step towards it is the diversification, the experimentation with different ideas. In the absence of any origional political thought/activity/vision in the country these imported(from time and space) caravans are bound to find traction.

    Disaffected young men are used as cannon fodder by the BNP, the AL already, and its lethal. Centrist parties cause more death and mayhem than the fringe elements.

  11. on 07 Oct 2007 at 5:14 pm 11.fugstar said …

    Not knocking just remarking on the character of your common sense. I had education before the english arrived and civilised you thankyou very much. The Akhlaqi sciences from the Muslim cultures are markedly different. Its not about throwing stones, its about Maher bhai being a useful idiot.

    We do have modernist strands of Islamic movement in Bangladesh. It does lack a little oomph i admit but the returnees from secularised parents who are HTs clients aren’t interested in history of islamic thought, they are after something a lot more spunky. It’s for religious forces to up their game, not cheat and ban/takfir them.

    Dissafected, malcontented, even envious young men in bangladesh have always been used as cannon fodder for criminally utopian movements, promising them switzerlands and raising their expectations of the state ridiculously. Once in a while they are glorified. It is the centrist parties inflicting violence on the people, not the fringe elements, so the concern about lethal combinations is slightly unbalanced.

    If HT are slick, perhaps the other actors who you think are qualitatively any better should raise their game. Theres an absence of ‘production’ in BD, in such conditions imported goods like HT, which chime in a big way with muslims looking for hope, dignity and power (and programmed to hate or stay away from the established islamists) will have appeal.

    HTs biggest virtue is not being JI!

    At the end of the day, i prefer private uni students being muslim, beleiving and practicing and annoying people and hopefully learning and improving themselves, than a profusion of atheism and haraminess and nimukharamnity. 3rd rate islamism is a little naff but a lot better than some of the other paths uni people take.

  12. on 08 Oct 2007 at 12:34 am 12.Sid H Arthur said …

    HT’s biggest vice and failure is that they are brown fascists, pure and simple. Their interpretation of Islam’s political relationship with Jews, Hindus, the Ahmaddiyya is pure textbook Maududi/Qutbist religious supremacism. Their views of the role of women in society is the same old offensive obscurantism that exposes it’s Middle Eastern roots.

    The symbol of Khilafa is actually a surrogate for all the hot issues faced by various pockets of Muslims around the world (be it Palestinians, Chechnyans, Kashmiris and what have you), irrespective of circumstance or context, and collapsing it into one bite-sized super-issue, stoked up with ahistorical, utopianist piffle about Ummah (as if there was any such consistent entity), packaged in dubious, takfiri commentaries of the Kuran and Sunnah, and served up cold to angry, young, dissaffected Muslim kids. In the UK these kids happended to be 2nd and 3rd generation Southasian immigrants hungry for an identity. In Southasia it’s to unemployed, disenfranchised youngsters. They like to propel their ideology on second-hand rage. However impotent the rage, it can still generate a lot of hatred and poison for all concerned.

    Luckily Bangladeshis are moderate Muslims and secular by nature. This is what you get from being the historical breeding ground of 3 of India’s 5 major religions. The Bengali charcter is not drawn towards supremacism, they’ve played the role of the underdog for too long. Bengalis are surprisingly sophisticated when it comes to distinguishing spurious interpretations of religious doctrine from the real article. The same reason why Jamaat, which is simply a rehabilitation centre for retired genocidalists, will always be held with suspicion by the majority of Bangladeshis.

    Which is why I’m firmly opposed to banning HT just as I’m opposed to banning the BNP (UK not BD). I don’t want them to become a bunch of ideological martyrs - they’re not worth it. The battle front is on the war of ideas.

    Hizbut Tahrir’s present upsurge in Bangladesh is purely coincidental to the CTG playing the Prothom Alo newspaper against the Islamists. For HT in BD, Eid has come early, so to speak. It’s hilarious seeing the clownish leader of Hizbut Tahrir in Bangladesh try and use the democratic Constitution of Bangladesh to justify a Khilafist ideology! Foolish bwoy!

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