London, UK, February 26 – After the government failed to make a strong case for the vague offence of "glorification" or the proscription of non-violent organisations, Prime Minister Tony Blair has been forced to defend his position in an article in today's Observer. Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain makes the following points in response to the article that contains misleading allegations about our organisation:
(1) The government proposals have been criticised by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), the Home Office's own taskforce on extremism and over 180 leading Muslim organisations and personalities. In fact, Acpo said that it knew "of no intelligence to justify a Hizb ut-Tahrir ban" as proposed by Blair as part of his "12 point plan" unveiled before he shortly embarked upon a 3 week holiday in Barbados last August.
(2) Tony Blair insinuates that Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain is guilty of "glorifying" terror and "supporting terrorism". This is despite Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain's clear condemnation of violence including the acts of 7/7 and 9/11. It seems that the government intends through this new legislation to label legitimate struggle against the occupation of one's land as terrorism and define 'glorification' as including speaking out in affirmation of people's right to resist tyranny. In this way, vast swathes of the Muslim community and dozens of Muslim organisations that work for justice in the Muslim world will be criminalised. Blair omits the fact that the draconian phraseology of 'reckless intent' will catch innocents, who speak to a 'Muslim' audience about the politics of Kashmir, Palestine and Iraq, simply because of the different styles of oratory.
(3) His belief that Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain "glorifies" terror and "supports terrorism" is an isolated one, even in government. Foreign Office Minister said, "We have yet to see convincing evidence that Hizb ut-Tahrir as an organisation advocates violence or terrorism" [Hansard, 19/4/04]. Home Office documents released under the FOI Act said that, "Hizb ut-Tahrir [HT] is an independent political party that is active in many countries across the world. HT's activities centre on intellectual reasoning, logic arguments and political lobbying. The party adheres to the Islamic Shariah law in all aspects of its work. It considers violence or armed struggle against the regime, as a method to re-establish the Islamic State, a violation of the Islamic Shariah."
(4) Shortly after his August announcement to proscribe Hizb ut-Tahrir, the New Statesman reports that Tony Blair placed pressure on the intelligence services and the Home Office to create a false legal justification to ban the party. In response, Robert Tinline, head of the UK multilateral and terrorist financing section of the counter-terrorist department, wrote, "There is no apparent case to proscribe HuT because its activities abroad include involvement in terrorism. Indeed it is not entirely clear whether they would be caught under a future criterion of "justifying or condoning violence". Much of their literature explicitly rejects the use of violence." He further notes that "those who have banned it are not known for tolerance of democratic dissent".
(5) Tony Blair insinuates that Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain would be guiltier in the eyes of the public if leaflets and statements formerly on our website (www.hizb.org.uk) remained there, even though our leaflets and statements have been extensively scrutinised by the media and reviewed by the police and the CPS. No charges have ever been brought and we have never been advised by the authorities to remove any material from our website.
(6) Hizb ut-Tahrir is not banned in Denmark as suggested in the article. Also, the ban on the party's activities, not party membership, in Germany is subject to a legal challenge. The party's activities were not banned in Germany under terrorism laws, but rather under the pretext of our view on Israeli occupation being equated with anti-Semitism.
( 7) Tony Blair makes no mention of the wider political agenda at play including his description of the Islamic Caliphate as "an evil ideology" and the lobbying by dictators in Pakistan and Uzbekistan to proscribe the party for its non-violent political work in the Muslim world.
Dr Imran Waheed, a media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, said, "Despite these allegations, Hizb ut-Tahrir has not changed its message since 1953 – we have called for the non-violent removal of dictators and the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate in the Muslim world and have exposed colonialist interference in the Muslim world including the illicit relationship between western governments and their dictators. This is the real reason why Blair wants to silence Hizb ut-Tahrir's political work and this article is evidence that he wants to use tyrannical laws in a desperate move to defeat our ideas. The article is evidence of frustration given that many Muslims and non-Muslims, including prominent politicians, thinkers and policy makers, have realised that the wider political agenda is to silence the party's political call."