The peaceful way to finish off the West
Chadi Freigeh, media liason for Hizb ut-Tahrir.
COPENHAGEN. The Islamist party Hizb ut-Tahrir’s annual Scandinavian conference on October 14 was a resounding success this year. In front of thousands of enthusiastic onlookers in Denmark and Sweden, a clear message was conveyed:
“Our goal is for the caliphate to cover the Muslim world, including Spain,” said “sheikh” Isam Umayrah.
The main venue is Bella Center in Copenhagen, but the conference also has live satellite links to four other venues in Denmark and one in Stockholm. Proceedings are also broadcast live on the Internet.
This rainy afternoon, Bella Center is transformed into a throng of women in full-length garments and headscarves and bearded men, mostly young people. A handful of journalists stand out like sore thumbs. Men and women are kept separate throughout the convention and the women are placed in the back of the room. However, three of the journalists, myself included, happen to also be women. Should we sit in the back with the other women, or in the front row where seats have been reserved for the journalists?
After some palavering back and forth, we finally get permission to sit with the men, in the front row. Everything is handled with smiles and a soft touch. But when the first speaker – Ismail al-Wahwah, born on The West Bank but currently living in Australia – takes to the stage the friendly atmosphere evaporates.
Someone in the audience shouts the Muslim battle cry “Takbir!” and the crowd immediately responds ”Allahu akhbar!” in deafening volume, a procedure that will be repeated over and over every time a speaker says something the crowd finds extra palatable.
Ismail al-Wahwah, as well as the other speakers and representatives of the party, is very open about what they want to achieve.
“The United States of America is our enemy, but we agree on one thing.
They say we want a new world order, and they’re right. It’s time for a new leadership, and we will make sure it is Islam,” says al-Wahwah.
Secular governments cannot safeguard the interests of Muslims, he claims. And the same goes for so-called “moderate Muslims”. Leaders such as Egypt’s Muhammad Mursi and Turkey’s Abdullah Gül are taken to the cleaners – they are still ”slaves under capitalism”.
“The people who want to find a happy medium are unbelievers and we have prepared a special punishment for them,” says keynote speaker “sheikh” Isam Umayrah.
The Shia Muslims of Iran also come in for their share of serious criticism; they have it wrong, but at least they are Muslims and hopefully, with a little bit of help they can be made to see the light, Umayrah philosophizes.
“The Arab Spring is only the beginning, but a very good and encouraging beginning. And now it’s too late to stop the progression, signs that the big change is imminent are everywhere,” says Umayrah.
He assures us nothing will be done in secret. The caliphate has to be located someplace that is easy to defend – Egypt, Turkey, Syria or Pakistan would be excellent starting points.
“After that, we will try to annex the neighboring countries as soon as possible. First by means of friendly talks, then on to step two, three, fyra and so on. No Muslim state except the Caliphate will be acknowledged,” Umayrah explains.
He also advocates radical, not gradual change and even suggests gradual change is prohibited in The Quran.
“It is haram (forbidden) to obey any law but that of Islam.”
The party media liaison, the well-spoken and well-dressed Chadi Freigeh, assures Dispatch International that The West has nothing to fear from Hizb ut-Tahrir. We can co-exist, he says, but the Muslims have to follow their own ways.
“We don’t want to impose our laws on the West. Sharia should be implemented where people want it, and it’s no secret that we have different values. We have to be honest and admit that all attempts to integrate the Muslims in the West have failed. That proves we need our own rules,” says Freigeh.
The Muslims living in the West should follow Shariah as best they can, but national laws take precedence, he explains. In the long run, the Caliphate will hopefully be global, but it should be done by peaceful means. Down the line, everyone will want Shariah since it is a system that doesn’t discriminate, according to Freigeh.
DI: How do you feel about Al-Qaida?
“I don’t condone actions against civilians, but one should remember that 9/11 was a reaction to long-term oppression by the United States against the Muslim world. Oppression has consequences, and now the U.S. is using 9/11 as an excuse to occupy Afghanistan.”
DI: To what extent and in what way should you perform Jihad?
“Jihad is always presented as something dangerous and terrible in the Western media, but that is not the case. Jihad protects the Muslims against threat and oppression. The Americans’ conduct in the Middle East calls for Jihad, but we need to adhere to certain rules. We don’t want to behave like the Americans did at Guantánamo for example; it is against Islam to treat people that way.
“But if we’re threatened, we must of course have a right to defend ourselves. I’m not Gandhi.”
Hizb ut-Tahrir, “The Freedom Party”, was founded in 1953 in Jerusalem and is now represented in over 40 countries across the world – among others, Sweden, Denmark and Great Britain. Even though the party is illegal in a number of Arab countries and Germany, it has approximately one million members.
The expressed goal is to create a global Islamic state, a Caliphate, under Shariah law. Officially, the party advocates non-violent means as a way to achieve this, but several leading members have been criticized for using harsh rhetoric against Israel and the United States.*
For instance, supreme leader Ata Abu-Rishta said in 2006 that the Jews in Israel, the Hindus of Kashmir and the Russians of Chechnya should be “destroyed”.
*Islamic warfare always – always – end with extreme violence once Muslims are a majority. It may be ‘peaceful’ now but it won’t remain.