Saturday, September 24, 2005

Yes but, no but, Hizbut

The Guardian was caught giving a column on Islam-related issues to a journalist who was a prominent member of Hizb-ut-Tahrir without requiring him to declare his interests to readers. They say they didn’t know he was a member of HuT and dropped him when he refused to renounce certain of their more unsavoury policies that clashed, they say, with the ethos of the paper.

However, this must have been done with a huge dollop of guilt, because it now seems the paper is compensating by whitewashing this group of clerical fascists whose constitution openly declares their intention to execute apostates.

First they published a pathetic hand-wringing diatribe by Natasha Walter describing Hizb-ut-Tahrir as peaceful and the proposed ban on them as an attack on free speech, and then they published a silly article by some nutcase who claims they saved him from the BNP because he couldn’t “disprove” the Quran. Anyone who falls for that is an idiot.

But I’ll get back to that. What concerns me is that in-between these two pieces appearing, my OutRage! colleague, Peter Tatchell, sent them a letter challenging Walter’s assertion that the groups was “peaceful”. They did not print it, so here it is:

Letters to the Editor
The Guardian

The UK leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir, Jalaluddin Patel, asks: "Has there ever been an instance on campus where our members have broken the law, incited violence or engaged in subversive 'extremist' activities?" (Letters, 20 September).The answer is: yes. During the 1990s, Hizb ut-Tahrir distributed on university campuses, and elsewhere, a leaflet inciting the murder of homosexuals. They subjected me to repeated death threats because I spoke out in defence of gay Muslims who were being abused by members of their organisation.Since this thuggery was exposed, Hizb ut-Tahrir has sought to project a less extreme public image. But I have no doubt that many of its members continue to hold violently homophobic views.

Hizb ut-Tahrir endorses the barbarism of Sharia law, which stipulates the death penalty for gay and lesbian Muslims, apostates, unchaste women and others.

Peter Tatchell
P.O. Box 17816, London. SW14 8WT

What’s more, an investigation into Hizb-ut-Tahrir’s campus activities was commissioned in the mid 1990s by National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education after 71% of calls to a campus hotline to report fascist activity on campus complained about Hizb-ut-Tahrir specifically. The report, written by Peter Purton, revealed that the group is “in equal measure anti-democratic, anti-Semetic, anti-Hindu, anti-feminist and homophobic'. The group's campaigns involve distribution of homophobic material, particularly at gay and lesbian society meetings, and harassment of individuals."

The National Union of Students took the decision to ban them on campuses after numerous complaints of intimidation and harassment from students, including Muslim students.

Yet Walter argues that they are “peaceful” and that banning them would be an attack on free speech. However, allowing groups that intimidate and harass other groups and individuals to operate does not further the cause of free speech; it allows the bullies to shit free speech down!

Still, I am not in favour of a ban by the government. This will not be practical and will simply drive these people underground. It is better to have them vaguely in the open where ordinary decent people can be disgusted by their fascist agenda.

But not wishing them to be banned is a long way from white-washing them and giving them a PR-makeover.

Another article in The Guardian presents the 'debate' about whether HuT deserve to be banned. Their propagandist, Imran Waheed, claims that HuT "are not looking for a Taliban state or one that oppresses women."

But their constitution clearly says:

"Those who are guilty of apostasy (murtadd) from Islam are to be executed according to the rule of apostasy" and "Segregation of the sexes is fundamental, they should not meet together except for a need that the shar’ allows" and "nothing of the women’s body is revealed, apart from her face and hands, and that the clothing is not revealing nor her charms displayed" and "Any [political] party not established on the basis of Islam is prohibited".

Is that Taliban-like and oppressive to women. You decide if Mr Waheed is a liar.

Waheed also said: "The aim was for a caliphate, an Islamic authority, to govern in Muslim countries but the group was not seeking to introduce one into Britain."

However, the official Hizb ut Tahrir website says in the 'Aims' section:

"It also aims to bring back the Islamic guidance for mankind and to lead the Ummah into a struggle with Kufr, its systems and its thoughts so that Islam encapsulates the world. "

Is Britain not of this world, or is Mr Waheed lying again? Why did The Guardian print this drivel if 2 minutes of Googling allowed me to check his claims against the group's stated aims and constitutional proposals?

The second Guardian article is just ridiculous. What’s the story? A person attracted to one extreme and unhinged group falls out with them and joins another similarly extreme and unhinged group. Is The Guardian really suggesting that Hizb-ut-Tahrir - a groups that according to its constitution wants to kill apostates, eliminate gays, subjugate women, oppress non-Muslims and silence political dissent - is the antidote to the BNP?

The balance to lunatic fringe groups is not more outrageous counterweights on the opposite side, but the huge flywheel of common sense, humanity – and sanity – that drives reasonable people of goodwill. That’s where we should be putting our weight. That’s where I’m laying down my burden. That’s where I’m planting my flag.


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