After British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced last week that his government would deport foreigners found to be "fostering hatred" and ban a Muslim radical group called Hizb ut-Tahrir, the London Evening Standard reported that officials in Blair's Home Office were "stunned."
"Home Office officials had advised against the move just a few weeks before," the paper reported, "and the department's own study of Muslim youth found the group was nonviolent."
The Financial Times said, "Home Office officials have since confirmed that Hizb ut-Tahrir is not a terrorist group."
The London Daily Telegraph sought the reaction of Sheikh Muhammad Umar, who last weekend chaired England's first-ever Muslim unity convention, held in Manchester. "The youngsters of this country follow (Hizb ut-Tahrir) and listen to them," the sheikh advised. "If we start banning them, caging them, and putting them in prison and isolate them, we are not going to get anywhere."
So, what exactly is Hizb ut-Tahrir? And why would it inspire a liberal like Tony Blair to ban it in Britain -- a move that may require government actions that in the United States would violate constitutional protections for freedom of speech and religion?
The group, whose name means "Party of Liberation," was founded in the 1950s in Jerusalem. Today, wrote Ariel Cohen in a 2003 study for the Heritage Foundation, Hizb "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)."
Hizb says on its website it hopes to bring the Islamic nation "to her rightful place as the first state in the world, as she was in the past, when she governs the world according to the laws of Islam."
This is Islamist globaloney: Instead of a one-world socialist state run by an atheist dictator, Hizb seeks a one-world Islamic state run by an Islamist dictator.
In a pamphlet on its website titled "The American Campaign to Suppress Islam," Hizb argues that Islam is in a life-and-death struggle with the United States and other Western nations.
"On the one side, the side of Falsehood -- are America, the Kaafir (unbelieving) West, and your rulers and their supporters, which includes the politicians, thinkers, economists, people of the media, and others allured by capitalism and seduced by its way of life, together with those who call for democracy, pluralism, human rights and free market policies," says the pamphlet. "And on the other side, the side of Truth -- are the aware and sincere carriers of the Islamic Da'wah (invitation) and those who follow them from among the Muslim Ummah (nation) who adhere to their Deen (faith). Your destiny is determined by this battle. After this battle, there is either dignity in this life and the hereafter, or death and the disgrace of both this life and the hereafter ..."
The group rejects the very freedom of religion and expression Tony Blair's Britain may now deny it. "It is not allowed for a Muslim to embrace any other creed, whether it is based on an originally revealed religion, such as Judaism and Christianity, or another ideology's creed, such as capitalism and socialism, or any creed from any way of life, or any thought other than the creed of Islam," says its anti-American pamphlet. "Thus it is evident that the Muslim is prohibited to accept the freedom of religion which capitalists call for."
"(I)t is not allowed for a Muslim to express any opinion that contradicts Islam," says the pamphlet. "Therefore, it is not allowed for Muslims to adopt the freedom of opinion which the capitalists call for."
But if Hizb ut-Tahrir is not a terrorist group, as the British Home Office insists, why is it a threat? "When a critical mass of cells is achieved, according to its doctrine, Hizb may move to take over a country in preparation for establishment of the caliphate," wrote Ariel Cohen for the Heritage Foundation. "Such a takeover would likely be bloody and violent. Moreover, its strategy and tactics show that, while the party is currently circumspect in preaching violence, it will justify its use -- just as Lenin and the Bolsheviks did -- when a critical mass is achieved."
Such a radical ideology may never attract more than a few followers within free nations. Yet, it only took a few Islamist radicals to blow up London's subway trains. "(C)oming to Britain is not a right," Blair declared last week. True enough. But his real problem, he evidently believes, are those who may already be there.