The government of Tunisia has urged a military court to ban the transnational Sunni jihadi movement known as Hizb ut-Tahrir (Islamic Party of Liberation), which has been accused of “undermining public order” since it was legalized as a political party in the country back in 2012, reports Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Hizb ut-Tahrir, or HT, which is considered a threat to U.S. interests abroad, has already been reportedly outlawed in various countries throughout the Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Europe.
“A request to ban was submitted recently. We are awaiting the decision of the military investigative judge,” a Tunisian official told AFP on condition of anonymity, noting that “a total ban on the party was imminent.”
Tunisia is a Sunni Muslim majority country that has not been immune to the Islamic State-perpetrated chaos in neighboring Libya, home to a former stronghold that was once considered the largest controlled by the terrorist group outside Iraq and Syria.
In August, the Sunni radical Islamist HT party succeeded in overturning a decision by a civil judge to outlaw it, reports AFP, adding that the movement has denounced the Tunisian government’s requests to ban it as “police harassment.”
“The government… knows that its time has come and that heads and hands will be cut,” declared the party in a statement.
In response, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi told his national security council last week that HT’s “arrogance towards the state undermines its authority.”
AFP explains, “The Tunisian branch of the pan-Islamic movement appeared in the 1980s but it remained on a list of banned organisations until after the 2011 overthrow of longtime strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.”
In the wake of ISIS attacks last year that killed and wounded dozens of people, the Tunisian government moved to shut down political parties and associations that promote radical Islam, including mosques.
Thousands of Tunisians have reportedly left the country to engage in jihad in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. Tunisia is considered the country that provided more foreign fighters to ISIS than any other nation.
The Heritage Foundation notes:
Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Party of Liberation) is an emerging threat to American interests in Central and South Asia and the Middle East. It is a clandestine, cadre-operated, radical Islamist political organization that operates in 40 countries around the world, with headquarters apparently in London. Its proclaimed goal is jihad against America and the overthrow of existing political regimes and their replacement with a Caliphate (Khilafah in Arabic), a theocratic dictatorship based on the Shari’a (religious Islamic law).