Conference season starts a bit early for Islamists hoping to make Britain part of the Islamic caliphate (Khilafah), and Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain's national Conference, "The Struggle for ISLAM and the call for Khilafah" in London today will certainly be one of the less tedious get-togethers this year (although less chance of a boozy one-night-stand, admittedly).
You may have heard of the group. They were built up by sponging radical cleric Omar Bakri Muhammad, who once called the 9/11 hijackers "magnificent" and spouted the cause of jihad against the West while scrounging £250,000 off the British taxpayer. Hizb have come close to being banned for their support of Islamic extremism, but our weak, enfeebled government, desperate not to upset anyone, worried it might drive them underground. Well, they sound like they're really inside the big tent right now:
The conference was opened by Dr Abdul Wahid, Chairman of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain's Executive Committee, who addressed the increasing anti-Islamic propaganda in the West and globally. Using the issue of terrorism and extremism Western governments have embarked on a campaign to prevent the Muslim world establishing an Islamic government, the Caliphate that will free the Muslim world from the terror and hegemony that has been brought upon it by the West. On a daily basis, Muslims are subjected to insults and attacks in the media on their Aqeeda, the hijab, Shariah and Khilafah. He argued that, in this critical time, Muslims needed to hold onto Islamic values living in the West, and resist the attempts to reform Islam, and to support the call for the Islamic Khilafah in the Muslim world -- to end decades of oppression, colonisation and dependency.
The conference highlighted how the method to re-establish the Khilafah is based on the Life (Seerah) of the Prophet Muhammad (saw), which clearly laid out a non-violent intellectual and political struggle to bring about change. Hizb ut-Tahrir has continued with this method for over 50 years and calls Muslims all over the world to this path for change.
The conference concluded by emphasizing the key role the Muslim community in the West plays in terms of supporting the call for Khilafah in the Muslim world and carrying the Message of Islam to the wider non-muslim society, breaking the stereotypes and presenting Islam with sound argument and good example.
Right, so you want to support the establishment of a worldwide Islamic dictatorship, and at the same time "break the stereotypes" of Muslims.
There's an argument that a group such as this, with its thinly veiled respectability, is more dangerous than an obvious barking mad organisation like al-Qaeda. Former member Ed Husain said: "Britain remains vital to the Hizb, for it gives the group access to the global media and provides a fertile recruiting ground at mosques and universities".
There was a time when Hizb could have been laughed off, but the larger Britain's Muslim population gets the more harshly we have to deal with people who talk about the caliphate, for the sake of British Muslims who prefer Christian Democracy as much as anyone.
A representative of the group once told the BBC: "I think Muslims in this country need to take a long, hard look at themselves and decide what is their identity. Are they British or are they Muslim? I am a Muslim. Where I live is irrelevant." In that case, get out, for all our sakes, because anyone attending this conference or who is in sympathy with this group has no place in our country.
By Ed West