Independent on Sunday
191 Marsh Wall
11th September 2005
Re: "How militant Islamists are infiltrating Britain's top companies"
Dear Mr Davies,
I write to complain about today's article entitled "How militant Islamists are infiltrating Britain's top companies" in the Independent on Sunday.
The article makes several serious and unfounded allegations about our organisation.
The main sections of the article that concern us are:
- How militant Islamists are infiltrating Britain's top companies
- Although Hizb ut-Tahrir insists that it has never supported violence in Britain or the Middle East, security sources accuse it of being among groups which radicalise Muslims to the point where they attract the attention of terrorist recruiters.
- A former Hizb ut-Tahrir activist told the IoS that behind closed doors he was encouraged to take up boxing and self-defence classes in order to "prepare for jihad". Although he never accepted full membership, he was associated with the group for nearly a decade, and said two members had told him how they had joined the Territorial Army in order to get "real" military training. After TA rules were changed and it was no longer possible to opt out of military action if asked to take part, this stopped.
- Though Hizb denies being anti-Semitic, a leaflet first published in 1999 said: "The Jews?are a poisoned dagger thrust into the heart of the Islamic Ummah and [sic] evil cancerous gland which spreads deep within the Islamic countries." Until last year the same statement was carried on Hizb's websites.
- The June edition of Khilafah magazine that year said: "This case more than anything has shown that though the Kaffir [unbelievers] wish to seduce the Ummah away from the problems Muslims face with corrupt Western ideas such as nation statehood and the British Muslim identity, it has certainly not deterred these two young men who grew up in Britain."
- A discussion on a Hizb website about Western citizenship spoke of killing kaffirs – infidels or non-Muslims. "Their bonds, equality and freedoms are lies and false … We saw an Immigrant [muhajir] from Quraysh drawing closer to Allah by killing his kaffir relative," it said. This was removed days after the 7 July attacks in London.
As for the first point, members of Hizb ut-Tahrir are not "infiltrating Britain's top companies" as the headline sensationally alleges. The Oxford English Dictionary defines infiltration as the process of "surreptitiously and gradually entering or gaining access to an organization or place". Our members, like many in the Muslim community, work in professions such as law, accountancy, teaching and medicine, and have entered such professions openly and not surreptitiously. All of our members undertake the non-violent political work of the party openly. The author of the article, Shiv Malik, did not establish via "investigation" that members of Hizb ut-Tahrir work in "Britain's top companies" but rather met members of Hizb ut-Tahrir who openly told him of their profession and the companies they work for. How can this be deemed to be 'infiltration' on their part?
As for the second point, Hizb ut-Tahrir has a 50 year plus history of non-violent intellectual and political work. Our members in the Muslim world have been silenced, imprisoned, tortured and even killed for their beliefs. Throughout all of this and up until the current day our members have never resorted to armed struggle or violence as a way of bringing about political change. Resilience in the face of intense oppression comes from the passionate belief of our members that societies do not change through coercion or violence, but through intellectual advancement, debate and dialogue. We reject the charge made by some that the party though non-violent itself, incites others to commit violent acts or radicalises Muslims "to the point where they attract the attention of terrorist recruiters". This pre-supposes that in its opposition to western foreign policy, the party does not provide a detailed methodology to channel the inevitable anger and frustration that is generated: it quite plainly does. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Bill Rammell said, "We have yet to see convincing evidence that Hizb ut-Tahrir as an organisation advocates violence or terrorism." [Hansard 19/4/04]
The article uses the vague term "security sources" to substantiate these claims. While some neo-conservative right wing think tanks such as the US based Heritage Foundation or Nixon Centre have propagated such claims, they have not gained wide currency amongst those with knowledge of Hizb ut-Tahrir and its methodology. Indeed an article in the FT on 8th September 2005 said, "One security official believes there is no evidence that the group, which says it is non-violent, has played a role in the radicalisation of any known terrorist."
The article should have not only pointed out that "Hizb ut-Tahrir insists that it has never supported violence" but should have also pointed out that we also insist that we have not radicalised Muslims "to the point where they attract the attention of terrorist recruiters".
As for the third point, I clearly pointed out to Mr Malik when asked for comment on these allegations that Hizb ut-Tahrir had never encouraged Muslims to take up boxing or self-defence classes to "prepare for Jihad". The word I used to describe these allegations was "nonsense" ? I am surprised that on such a serious allegation, you did not quote our response. Mr Malik also rang our media office to ask about allegations that members of our organisation had joined the TA. Once again he was told that these allegations were untrue ? I am surprised that on such a serious allegation, you did not quote our response. No members of Hizb ut-Tahrir have joined the TA.
As for the fourth point, while you point out that we deny allegations of anti-Semitism you fail to point out that it is our opposition to Israeli occupation and our rejection of Zionism that has led to us being accused of anti-Semitism. We defend the right of people living under military occupation to defend their land with the proviso that they do not kill innocent civilians. To do other than this would be to side with the aggressor. Islam teaches us to respect other people's beliefs and culture and hence we envisage a Caliphate State where the rights of Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and others will be protected. We look forward to living and working side by side with Jews and others, who do not share our specific beliefs, under a stable progressive polity as was the case for hundreds of years prior to the untimely demise of the Caliphate at the beginning of the last century.
As for the fifth point, I made it clear to Mr Malik that we had issued numerous statements that made it clear that we had no link to either Omar Sharif or Asif Hanif. As I pointed out to Mr Malik, the article in question did not praise the actions of either and in fact articulated the need for Muslims to engage in non-violent political work, rather than acts of violence. This has been the position of Hizb ut-Tahrir since its inception in 1953. We work to direct the sentiments of Muslims about events in the Muslim world into non-violent politics – this channels the anger and frustration with events in the Muslim world into positive political work. Our activities including public protests, petitions, conferences, seminars and roundtable discussions have been attended by thousands of people.
As for the sixth point, the quote that is used has been completely misrepresented. The article states that "a discussion on a Hizb website about Western citizenship spoke of killing kaffirs' infidels or non-Muslims". This would lead the average reader to believe that our website was in some way promoting the killing of non-Muslims. The manner in which this is quoted by the author suggests ignorance of early Islamic history as this piece describes the relationships between the early Muslims and the tribe of Quraish, and is well documented in books of Islamic history. The failure of the author to put this in its proper context is inaccurate.
In conclusion, this article has made serious allegations about our organisation and has not clearly presented our responses to each of these allegations. In fact, on some of the most serious allegations, our response has not even been quoted.
In the light of the above, and last week's article in the Independent on Sunday, we would like to meet with you at the earliest opportunity in order to discuss these matters.
Dr Imran Waheed
Media Representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain