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L’Infâme: Hizb ut-Tahrir
Banning Unpleasant Muslims

Islam's Universal Studios

The United States doesn’t ban neo-Nazi parties anymore than it bans the Ku Klux Klan or—the bigoted fashion of the moment—anti-immigration groups like the Minuteman Project and its equally turdishly scented copycats. Nor should it. Groups that thrive on hate and bigotry are necessary mirrors of what lurks among us. Banning them won’t eliminate them. It’ll just drive them underground where, out of the sunshine and like vermin, they’re likelier to thrive and multiply than stay where they can be checked (and where they can serve as reminders of the regressions that require eternal vigilance). To be banned in the United States, a group has to be elevated to the status of a terrorist organization.—a political enough designation since today’s terrorist can be yesterday’s media darling and vice versa: the Bush administration pours hundreds of millions (if not a few billion) dollars on “allies” and friends who have very little to distinguish them from so-called terrorists: Northern Alliance fanatics who are often the spitting image of the Taliban, the Pakistani military and internal police, who have been enabling al-Qaeda’s survival, Saudi Arabia House of Saud, the chief financial officer of all things Islamic and extreme, and so on. And we haven’t yet touched on Israeli and Palestinian aid, which defies all attempts at consistency. But what about Hizb ut-Tahrir? It’s a self-styled pan-Islamic organization, a non-terrorist al-Qaeda whose aim is a Muslim caliphate where Islamic law (Sharia) reigns supreme. Like all fundamentalist organizations fanaticism is the motherboard, but it’s not as if the party’s premises are necessarily wrong: It considers Mideastern governments corrupt and tyrannical, and the West expressly anti-Muslim. Nothing new there. It calls for the overthrow of governments, although it condemns terrorist acts—meaning violent acts that target civilians, including the Sept. 11 attacks. In that sense, Hizb ut-Tahrir is consistently fundamentalist: It abides by the Quran’s edicts against doing violence to the innocent even as it calls for jihad for the establishment of universal Islamic law. The group is banned in three dozen countries, including Germany and most Arab countries, but not Lebanon or Britain. The debate over Hizb ut-Tahrir’s fate has reached Australia. From the Sydney Morning herald:

An unlikely alliance of radical Muslims and the Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, has rejected Morris Iemma's call to ban the Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir. The call, which included a claim by the Premier that Hizb ut-Tahrir was declaring war on Australia, came as the group held a conference on how to established a pan-national Islamic state under sharia law. Speakers at the conference yesterday warned there would be a call to arms to establish and defend a caliphate but they made it clear they did not see Australia as part of their fundamentalist society. The distinction was lost on Mr Iemma, the MP for Lakemba where the conference was held, and where he is facing a challenge by Muslim candidates in the state election. "This is an organisation that is basically saying that it wants to declare war on Australia, our values and our people," the Premier said. "That's the big difference and that's why I believe that they are just beyond the pale. Enough is enough, and it's time for the Commonwealth to review this organisation's status and take the lead from other countries and ban them."

So there it is: a politician is facing a touch challenge from Muslim candidates. How best to defeat them if not by banning the organization that supports them. Hizb ut-Tahrir, as often as not, is a scapegoat.

Mr Ruddock said Hizb ut-Tahrir had been closely monitored by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation but had been found to have done nothing in Australia to warrant it being banned. He said the NSW Government should stop playing politics and if it had any evidence helpful to the security agencies, it should give it to them. Concerns about terrorism, violent crime and integration have prompted a bidding war between NSW Labor and the Opposition about who can sound tougher on Muslims, a theme that is expected to continue until poll day on March 24.

As if we needed more proof that Muslims are the Soviets of the day, and the war on Islam the 21 st century’s Cold War, with one significant distinction: it ain’t so cold in some places. It doesn’t help that Islam’s fanatics, Hizb ut-Tahrir among them, have as little to recommend them as their fanatical critics.

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