“I’m not presenting the Islamic system as one of the alternatives – or an alternative. This is a defeatist and apologetic approach. The Islamic system is the only alternative for mankind.” – A speaker at the Hizb ut Tahrir Khalifa Conference in Wembley Arena, London, 1994
Right on the heels of Independence Day comes a rather less patriotic celebration later this month*, with the grand but nebulous title “Khilafah Conference 2010: Emerging World Order – How the Khilafah Will Shape the World.” It’s put on in Chicago by an Islamist organization called Hizb ut Tahrir (“the party of liberation”) or sometimes HT. The event is a call to action – a call to participate in the impending Islamic conquest of democracy and capitalism.
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A year ago the group felt bold enough to hold their first open conference in the United States, hosted by the Hilton Hotel in a suburb of Chicago – coincidentally (?) the political home town of the current leader of the Free World. Its title – “The Fall of Capitalism and the Rise of Islam,” more direct and apocalyptic than this year’s – raised a few eyebrows, but as usual where the presence of Islamist extremists on our shores is concerned, generated little media attention.
Hizb ut Tahrir is a self-described Islamic political movement active in well over forty countries, driven to conform the thoughts, emotions, and relationships of society in accordance with Islamic thoughts, emotions, and relationships, so that all of life’s affairs are governed by sharia law. Its goal is to destroy the corrupt Western capitalist culture which has ravaged and enslaved the Ummah, the worldwide Muslim community, and has propped up secular Arab regimes that stand in the way of re-establishing the Caliphate, a state guided by true Muslim values.
This is not quite the stealth jihad that such Cassandras as Robert Spencer, Brigitte Gabriel, and Bruce Bawer warn us about. HT is not the elusive, shadowy Muslim Brotherhood, another worldwide Islamist organization (and one HT considers too moderate), which operates under the radar in America via front groups like the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim Students Association (MSA), and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). HT openly advocates the elimination of capitalism and democracy and their replacement with sharia law, and is openly recruiting Muslims to fight back against the new Crusaders’ war on Islam. At a time when the Obama administration has redacted all references to The Religion of Peace™ from discussions of national security, Hizb ut Tahrir has no such reservations about announcing its jihadist aims and motivation.
Though they claim to reject the use of violence, HT, like all Islamist groups, nonetheless “rides the backs of terrorists,” as the brilliant Andrew C. McCarthy puts it. Turkish-American scholar Zeyno Baran calls HT a “conveyor belt” for radicalism and terrorism. Such al Qaeda luminaries as Khaled Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are among HT’s alumni.
It is outlawed in some Western countries like France and Germany, and in Arab countries with non-theocratic regimes that fear HT’s revolutionary fervor. But not in the U.S., Australia, or the doomed UK, who have decided that violence is the dividing line between extremists and moderates – even though the elimination of Western civilization is their shared goal.
Hizb ut Tahrir isn’t waging your granddaddy’s jihad. It “effectively combines Marxist-Leninist methodology and Western slogans with reactionary Islamic ideology,” says Zeyno Baran, and consists largely of energized, uncompromising, and aggressively intellectual (if irrational) young people who know how to exploit pop culture and modern technology. As Madeleine Gruen writes for the Jamestown Foundation:
The younger generation’s pioneering spirit has made HT one of the most innovative extremist groups in terms of its use of new media as a means of marketing its ideology. Some of their marketing schemes have included hip hop fashion boutiques, hip hop bands, use of online social networks, use of video sharing networks, chat forums and blogs.
But don’t confuse their tech-savvy hipness for forward thinking. HT seeks to restore the Ummah’s “previous might and glory” through a return to the most fundamentalist precepts of Islam. The group unapologetically advocates the death penalty for apostates, for example, and adamantly rejects any suggestion of reforming Islam: “The concept of reform is a concept unknown to Muslims,” says their pamphlet Islamic Reformation: Exposing the Battle for Hearts and Minds. “It never existed throughout the history of the Islamic civilisation.” They urge an aggressive defense of Islam in the face of the infidel plot to modernize, Westernize, and mold Muslims into democratic partners. Hence the name of their Sydney conference, held this last July 4th weekend: “The Struggle for Islam in the West.”
For a sobering, insider’s exposé of HT’s modus operandi, check out the unsettling 2007 book The Islamist by former British HT member Ed Husein, He reveals that “as people who played politics with Islam, we knew how to deploy religion to manipulate the emotions of its followers.” Skilled debaters, they also “knew how to deny, lie, and deflect,” because “our enemies were kafir [unbelievers], not deserving of our honesty and integrity.”
“The values of democracy, tolerance, respect, compromise, and pluralism had no meaning for” Husein and his arrogant HT compatriots, who had contempt even for less committed fellow Muslims:
We, as activists for Hizb, were an altogether superior sort of Muslim. It was we who called for the resumption of Islamism as a way of life rather than a mere religion, and for that way of life to be enshrined in the power of a state.
A state that would be a launching point for jihad, which they define as “war against anybody who opposes the Islamist call.” As for replacing the corrupt, imperialist system of capitalism, Husein reports how Hizb planned to share the wealth of the oil-rich Arab states, which they believe belongs to all Muslims: “We will first redistribute this wealth to poorer Muslims in Africa and then invite other non-Muslim nations to Islam. If they accept, we will alleviate their poverty too.” Islamist philanthropy in action.
Redistribution of wealth – sound familiar? But if you think a mutually socialist aim makes them bedfellows with President Obama, think again. Despite Obama’s ongoing chimerical campaign to woo the Muslim world, HT is no more enamored of The One than al Qaeda is; both see him as no different from George W. Bush in Obama’s (astoundingly misperceived) support for Israel and aggression toward the Muslim world.
Homeland Security may be busy lately keeping tabs on disgruntled Army vets and rabidly violent Tea Partiers, but Hizb ut Tahrir is as subversive, seditious and ideologically dangerous a group as exists among Islamic fundamentalists. Their dream of a worldwide Muslim government under the rule of a caliph, however, can be disarming to Americans, to whom such aims of global domination sound like a loony fantasy, more suitable to Austin Powers‘ Dr. Evil.
Unfortunately, what we kafirs think is irrelevant. What matters is that the zealots of Hizb ut Tahrir believe in the inevitability of their sharia utopia as unwaveringly as we believe the sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning – and they are acting on it with more passionate conviction than most complacent, blasé Western youth of today are capable of generating. HT sees Western capitalism, especially under Obama, as verging on implosion, and Western culture as hopelessly weak and decadent. And that leaves the Islamist true believers poised to emerge triumphant. As the conference promo proclaims; “The time is ripe. The Ummah is ready. Khilafah is on the horizon.”
We may dismiss their dream as irrational, and their U.S. presence as insignificant, but future generations may wish we had taken Hizb ut Tahrir more seriously – or the ideas of freedom, democracy, and human rights that we take for granted may one day seem just as distant a dream to our descendants as a resurgent caliphate seems to us now.
*As of this writing, the conference’s originally scheduled date of July 11th, has been postponed to either July 18th or July 25th, with the location currently unspecified.