Miranda Devine is not entirely inaccurate in her picture of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Sydney. Again The Mine gets a bit of unwelcome publicity: “Banned in Britain, Germany, Holland, Russia, and much of the Muslim world, Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) has been invited to speak at Sydney Boys High at least twice, and often addresses students at Sydney University.”
Just last month I wrote about this on Blogspot. It seems appropriate to recycle that entry here today.
The Mine and the Islamists: cause for concern?
That back link to last year is vital background to what follows. Naturally the links therein to Diary-X no longer work, but I will shortly post the relevant items on my Angelfire blog and reset the links.* The gist: the article above discusses the visit by some interesting people to my former place of work. See also another August 2005 entry, Indigo Jo Blogs Patrick Sookhdeo on moderate Islam. I have been able to correct the links on that one.
I urge you to read those articles, and also not to jump to conclusions when you read what follows. I do not feel threatened, but I do feel concerned.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, the Islamic Students Society at The Mine has made some connection with clearly Islamist groups. I have just read a Wikipedia article, currently being considered for deletion, written by some of the students themselves.
In 2005 the ISSBH enjoyed its most productive year, with a range of activities undertaken by the society to promote its newly dubbed “Annual Forum and Presentation on Islam”. Leading up to the event, several information stalls were held in order to give people a taste of multicultural food and also to promote the event. The Forum was well attended at around 310 people, with the speakers on this occasion being the world famous Sheikh Khalid Yasin, and the Sydney-based Islamic media personality Wassim Doureihi, invited to speak because of recommendations of his eloquence and sound expression. Both speakers impressed the audience present, despite campaigns run by senior students in the school to question the validity of Islamic law as a useful means by which to guide mankind’s affairs. The ISSBH was on the ABC program “the 7.30 Report” and has since concentrated on internal efforts and discussion with students at the school on a personal basis.
I have added the links in that extract.
Wassim Doureihi is spokesman for the Sydney branch of the Muslim Hizb ut-Tahrir, a thorough but unfriendly account of which you may read here. According to Wikipedia, “The party is banned in many Arab countries, but not the more liberal Sharjah, or the UAE, Lebanon and Yemen; it is also banned throughout the former Soviet Union states of Central Asia, and in Germany. It operates legally in most Western nations, and survived a ban in Australia after clearance from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. On August 5, 2005, Tony Blair announced the British government’s intention to ban the group in the United Kingdom.” Note, then, the organisation is not illegal in Australia but is still “of interest”.
A recent article on khilafah.com says:
Hizb ut-Tahrir’s aim, as summarised in their publication, is ‘to resume the Islamic way of life and to convey the Islamic da’wah (invitation) to the world. This objective means bringing Muslims back to living an Islamic way of life in Dar al-Islam and in an Islamic society such that all of life’s affairs in society are administered according to the Shari’ah rules, and the viewpoint in it is the halal and the haram under the shade of the Islamic State, i.e. Khilafah State. That state is the one in which Muslims appoint a Khalifah and give him the bay’ah to listen and obey on condition that he rules according to the Book of Allah (swt) and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saw) and on condition that he conveys Islam as a message to the world through da’wah and jihad.’…
Though Hizb ut-Tahrir is a political party [in Bangladesh], they do not accept any conventional political process. Parliamentary democracy is not acceptable in their system. Though, election as a process is acceptable, elected lawmakers formulating laws to govern a country is not acceptable in the Hizb ut-Tahrir’s final stage: ‘establishing government’. Now the obvious question arises: how then do we establish government?
‘We do not believe in violence. We have condemned all terrorist activity in the country [Bangladesh in this case] and abroad. We are presently spreading the vision of Hizb ut-Tahrir among the public. We are also engaging in dialogue with society’s opinion-making figures as they can influence a greater number of people,’ explains Mohiuddin. On the issue of taking power, he replies: ‘That is the third stage. We believe that by the time we have substantial members and a critical mass of sympathisers who agree to our cause, there will be pressure on the state machinery to follow suit. In such a scenario, the culmination of populist support and key opinion-makers on our side, we shall be take power and form a Khilafah state.’
OK, the students involved, some of whom I know, are not threatening individuals, and are all very concerned and very intelligent; the appeal to people of their age is no doubt parallel to the appeal to others of fundamentalist Christianity, or extreme left politics. It is an expression of idealism, a reaction to a world that they in their fresh vision would like to put right. Such youth movements and motivation are not new.
But there is cause for concern, don’t you think, in the current state of the world, for the students’ own welfare as much as for anything else.
Since I am at work today, I dropped in at lunchtime on the Islamic Students’ Society. They have had the occasional bit of controversy around them, as you may see above. I was interested to see what they, as intelligent teenage Muslim boys, felt about Cronulla and all that.
The gangs like the one(s) that have been causing trouble for years in Cronulla they utterly reject. “Leb arseholes.” (They mean of course those indulging in antisocial behaviour in groups in public. None of these young Muslims I spoke to today could be accused of bad manners, inconsideration, insensitivity, racism or sexism. But then they are confident, intelligent, and genuinely religious.) “Some of them are really bad people.” (That from a boy who knows the Lakemba/Campsie/Punchbowl area well.) As much to do with Islam as the Hells’ Angels are to do with Christianity. Definitely not practitioners of Islam. “They worry us as much as they worry you.”…
* Unfortunately this is not possible, as the relevant entries are casualties of the Diary-X Crash of 2006! However, I have been able to rescue one: Retreat from the Global: 11 March 2004 which tells you about “Ali”, who “was born in Pakistan — in fact he told me in Year Seven that he still spoke and read Urdu (and one or two other languages) and could still recall a three storey red house he lived in in Islamabad as a small child.” He belonged to “one of the largest ‘Islamic fundamentalist’ movements in the world, and much bigger than Al Qaeda.” I learned quite a bit that day.
Back to Miranda
Of course one must read Miranda’s column in the context of her work generally, and it is fair to say that she has gone out of her way to feed and feed off our fear of The Other in Islam. Perhaps the last word should come from her own column:
Hizb ut-Tahrir is a fringe group, rejected by most Australian Muslim leaders. But its message is alluring to the disenfranchised. Is the answer to ban it? Wassim says the more the group is attacked, the more it grows. “The more we come under pressure the more we return closer to Islam.”
Miranda probably does more than most in that respect; perhaps Hizb ut-Tahrir should employ her.