By Madeleine Gruen
Over the past few weeks, and particularly in the last 24 hours, there has been an upward spiral of exaggeration and untruths in the US media and in the blogosphere, and also from Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), about the nature of Hizb ut-Tahrir America’s (HTA) Khilafah conference, which is being held today at the Hilton in Oak Lawn, IL.
This morning, “Fox and Friends” featured an interview with one of the activists who will be protesting outside of the conference venue. Fox’s headline blared, “Al Qaeda Holding Recruiting Conference at Chicago Hilton.” This is like a bizarre game of “Telephone” in which the nature of the threat has been distorted from one media report to another, until the message has been distilled to the crudest level. There is no need to overstate the potential threat a group like HTA poses in the United States by shrieking “al-Qaeda.” It does not need to be al-Qaeda to be dangerous.
HTA aspires to the same end goal as al-Qaeda; to establish an Islamic state with a military that will ultimately “carry” the Islamic system of government to the world. According to HTA’s literature “Khilafah is the absolute leadership of Muslims everywhere.” The major difference between al-Qaeda and HT is that HT’s method is political, and does not include violence to achieve its immediate goals. However, HT radicalizes people, and causes them to hate America, democratic systems, and laws that protect public safety and civil freedom. It wishes to drive a rift between Muslims and everyone else; to realize “the strategy of Islam: enhance the physical might of Muslims, weaken that of non-Muslims, strengthen morale for sacrifice among Muslims, and develop the zeal to change reality not to yield to it.”
In response to the recent stories in the U.S. media about HTA’s Khilfah conference, HT issued a press release, titled, “Hizb ut-Tahrir Refutes Extremism Charges In An Interview With CBS News Before Its Upcoming Conference.” Historically, HT attempts to modify its position and its tactics in order to portray itself as benign. However, all branches of HT worldwide adhere to the same ideology, as presented by the group’s founder Taqiudin al-Nabhani in 1952. The press release issued by HT on July 18th quotes the conference spokesperson as saying that the group does not think capitalism will fall. Rather, he believes that this conference will cause Americans to embrace the Islamic economic system as an alternative to a system that is crumbling, as shown by the recent financial crisis. In fact, HT is not exclusively concerned with the implementation of an Islamic economic system. It is using the current economic crisis as an entree into a public dialogue to promote its ideology. Its system includes recruitment in the military, and the final stage includes the installation of an Islamic government that includes an Amir of Jihad.
HT’s press release also claims that HT is not a “card-carrying organization.” Rather, it is “an intellectual organization, so anybody who carries the ideas is a member.” Again, the truth has been distorted. In fact, the process to become a member of HT is described clearly in its literature, and it involves years of study, which culminates in a pledge of unwavering loyalty to the organization.