Hizb ut-Tahrir invited to Commons by Clare Short

Under the heading “Militants invited to Commons by Short”, the Daily Mail (1 March) condemns the former minister’s decision to host a meeting with Hizb ut-Tahrir. Predictably, the campaign in the right-wing press is aided and abetted by Peter Tatchell.

Militants invited to Commons by Short

Daily Mail, 1 March 2006

Clare Short has invited an extremist Muslim organisation into the House of Commons today. But religious groups have condemned the former Cabinet minister for giving Hizb ut-Tahrir a stage to vent its hardline views.

Tony Blair has said the militant organisation outlawed in Germany and Holland will soon be banned in Britain under anti-terror measures. Last year, the group refused to condemn the London bombers and said suicide bombers were no worse than moderate Muslims.

But Miss Short, who has met the group in her constituency, has agreed to “facilitate” an open meeting with MPs in Westminster tonight.

In a letter to colleagues, she said the organisation “explicitly rejects the use of violence”. Miss Short said: “Hizb ut-Tahrir have been approaching parliamentarians to explain who they are and what they believe.” But representatives from Britain’s Hindu, Sikh, Jewish, and student communities condemned the decision, pointing to literature from the organisation suggesting that gays and Jews are “killed”.

In a letter, they said they failed to understand “why any MP would behave in such an irresponsible manner”. Their letter said: “Hizb ut-Tahrir uses the freedoms we in the UK currently afford them to promote a world view that would deny the same privileges to those we represent. They also use rhetoric and language that incites others to perpetrate violent attacks upon our communities.”

Worse than the BNP?

Evening Standard, 1 March 2006

Labour rebel Clare Short makes perhaps her most defiant gesture to Tony Blair tonight when she hosts a meeting with a radical Islamic group in the Commons. Hizb ut-Tahrir, which has been banned from university campuses because of its views on gays and Jews, was on a blacklist under anti-terror measures announced last August.

“Parliamentarians can decide for themselves,” says Short.

Gay activist Peter Tatchell has written to Short telling it’s a misogynistic, homophobic and anti-semitic Muslim fundamentalist group which subjected him to repeated death threats when he spoke out in defence of gay and women Muslims.

“Hizb ut-Tahrir still endorses Sharia law which stipulates the death penalty for gay and lesbian Muslims, apostates and unchaste women,” says Tatchell. “Hizb ut-Tahrir is no more fit to be hosted at the Commons than the BNP.”

For Tatchell’s open letter to Clare Short, see Indymedia, 1 March 2005

Tatchell writes: “During the early to mid-1990s, Hizb ut-Tahrir distributed leaflets explicitly inciting the murder of homosexuals. Their members subjected me to repeated death threats because I spoke out in defence of gay and women Muslims who were being abused by members of their organisation. Since this thuggery was exposed, Hizb ut-Tahrir has sought to project a less extreme public image.”

On the other hand, it could just be that in the period to which Tatchell refers Omar Bakri and his supporters were still members of Hizb, before splitting in 1996 to form Al-Muhajiroun, taking the extreme nutters with them, with the result that Hizb today is a rather different organisation from what it was back then.

Tatchell urges Short to cancel the meeting with Hizb and instead “host a meeting of liberal, progressive Muslisms such as Ziauddin Sardar, Sheikh Dr Muhammad Yusuf and Munira Mirza”. Which rather overlooks the fact that Hizb is under threat of being banned under the government’s anti-terrorism legislation whereas Ziauddin Sardar, Muhammad Yusuf and Munira Mirza are not. So, according to Tatchell, Short should presumably have organised a meeting opposing the government’s threat to illegalise Hizb, but minus the organisation that is actually threatened with being illegalised.

But this is par for the course with Tatchell. A couple of weeks ago he proposed that Unite Against Fascism should hold a conference organising against the BNP’s forthcoming election camopaign, which the fascists have announced will be conducted as a referendum on Islam, but should exclude the Muslim Council of Britain – the main organisation of the communities that are the intended victims of the fascists’ anti-Islam campaign.