There's a been quite a bit in the news lately regarding Hizb al-Tahrir (Party of Liberation), of the group who has made Islam into a political slogan. Not much is known about the Hizb, their background and historical origins and how they operate in the United Kingdom. One example of this is a recent article in the Independent, suggesting that the Hizb act as a 'conveyor belt' for more violent groups. Further, in the wake of the London bombings, Blair has said that the Party should be banned. In light of this there are two good sources worth reading:
- I came across a paper on the web entitled "Hizb ut-Tahrir -- the Next Al-Qaida, Really?" by Jean-François Mayer of the Geneva Institute of International Studies. Meyer challenges the idea that the Party are a 'conveyor belt' for al-Qa'ida. However, this does not mean, he says, that they do not pose a challenge to ideas such as democracy in Muslim countries; nor does it mean they do not have the use of violence as an aim in spreading their ideological beliefs (but then which ideology doesn't acknowledge the use of violence?).
- A Fundamental Quest: Hizb al-Tahrir and the Search for the Islamic Caliphate by Suha Taji-Farouki (published by Grey Seal, London, 1996) is a detailed study of the Party, which outlines their policies and historical origins by an expert in Islamic modernities at University of Exeter.
Of course, people are welcome to read their many websites. There was also a news report by Newsnight in 2003 which went undercover with Hizb party members. Imran Waheed, head of the Hizb in the UK, also appeared with Tim Sebastian on BBC NEws 24's HARDTalk (I would bother to examine Waheed's statements, except that I've heard enough Hizb rhetoric to last me a life time, should God give me such a lengthy life).
My point here is not to defend Hizb al-Tahrir nor suggest that they are navel gazing innocents. It wouldn't surprise me that Party members in the UK might even be pleased to gain acknowledgement from the media -- the ban will only allow give them crediblity by claiming that are being silenced in Blair's self-declared 'war on ideas'. Anyone who knows me in person, knows where I stand with respect to this organisation and it is definitely not on their side. And I think anyone who has half read this blog understand where I am in relation to 'political Islam'. Nonetheless, I am a firm believer in the idea that to perform a critique, one that is effective, one must appreciate the internal logic and truth claims of groups, peoples and beliefs. Resorting to fallacious and misleading arguments can only harm my aims in this respect: the 'conveyor belt' claim is not wholly accurate. Further, banning them does not really achieve anything (they will probably just operate under a different name). It is worth remembering that "the most perfidious manner of injuring a cause is to vindicate it intentionally with fallacious arguments" [Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science].