HT Membership – To be or not to be

This is a cross-post of an article by Imaad, who spent many years as an activist with Hizb ut-Tahrir but now campaigns for liberal secular values


Today David Cameron is back-pedalling wildly over specific details of claims he made yesterday at Prime Minister’s Questions about two independent schools in North London run by the ‘Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation’ (ISF). What initially seemed to be a devastating Tory attack on Labour’s failure to prevent members of the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) from gaining control over the education of British children swiftly turned into a desperate damage-limitation effort by the Tories. Ed Balls very successfully deflected debate away from the overarching issue (that ISF has close links to Hizb ut-Tahrir, received government money in the past and continues to control the education of children attending two schools) and turned it into a discussion of details, such as which fund that money came from, whether inspection reports are available online and on which website the schools’ registration numbers could be found.

Here is the video of the Tory attack unravelling:

Newsnight added to the confusion when they revealed that one ISF-run school appears to have removed the only staff member with links to HT and the headmistress of the other one, Farah Ahmed – although she never denies being an HT member in the past – categorically states that she is not a member of HT now (4:20 in the video above).

If you accept Ahmed’s assurance on face value this seems to seal the deal.

However, what Ahmed knows but few other people know – unless like me, they were formerly involved with HT – is that being a “member” of HT is not like being a member of any other organisation.

With most groupings (be they Islamic Forum Europe, the West Yorkshire Women’s Institute or the Labour Party) if you come along to a few meetings and get involved with activities then you will be asked at some point to write your name and address in a book somewhere, hand over a few pounds for subs and you are officially a member.

Hizb ut-Tahrir does not work like that. I fully accepted their ideology, campaigned for them, manned stalls outside mosques and universities to propagandise for them, helped arrange their annual conferences and even distributed Khilafah Mag (pdf) – HT’s in-house magazine for which Farah Ahmed used to write crude propaganda pieces – but I was never officially a member. I was one of the so-called Shabab (lit. Young men) who are devoted to HT and whose activism on behalf of the party HT could not operate without. They take a full role in working towards the Khilafah state (Caliphate) and attend HT study sessions (halaqas) – after they’ve attended the halaqas for a while and completed the first three core books in HT’s programme of theo-political indoctrination they even pay a subscription to the party – but they are not, according to HT, members.

HT works on the principle of plausible deniability. Some of the people who are most important to spreading HT’s ideology are not technically HT members or even Shabab. Hamza Andreas Tzortzis of the Hittin Institute can deny being an HT member all he likes but nobody can deny the similarity between the Hittin Institute’s output (pdf) and HT’s propaganda. Of course he has made certain slips that indicate where his loyalties lie, for example emailing (pdf) the Centre for Social Cohesion back in 2008 from the address and regularly speaking at HT organised events, but officially he is not an HT member.

Complicating this further is that, even if Farah Ahmed was a full member, her resignation from Hizb ut-Tahrir may have been entirely tactical. This theory is supported by the fact that her recent statement in the press over the Cameron-ISF affair echoes HT’s response:

“This type of vilification of the Muslim community needs to stop. We are being used as part of a wider political agenda.”

The simple fact is that Farah may not consider herself to officially be a member of HT any more but, by most normal standards of what a member of a group is, she could well still be involved with HT. Rather than simply accepting her bland assurance that she is no longer an HT member, the Newsnight team should have asked her what her views are on HT’s insane totalitarian ideology. After all, there is no difference in views between HT’s supporters, activists and fully-fledged ‘members’.

The real danger here is the fact that intolerant Islamist beliefs are being passed onto very young children without their parent or wider society full knowledge. HT’s focus on who is or isn’t a ‘member’ is just part of the smokescreen by HT to disguise their attempts at infiltrating Muslim communities who have already overwhelmingly rejected them.

The only funny, yet also tragic, part of this story is that a group which seeks to galvanise the masses behind them now has to hide their name if they want to do anything with Muslims in this country. It’s a tacit acknowledgement of failure.

Good luck with world domination.

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  1. Irfan
    Posted November 26, 2009 at 11:40 PM | Permalink

    If you were with HT and not a member you should know the term for a non-member is a daris, shabbab is the collective term for members and dariseen.

    As for brother Hamza Tzortsis, he was a member of HT up until earlier this year, when he announced he had left.

    After years of manning stalls, selling tickets to confererences, distributing leaflets and attending halaqaat, what exactly made you see the light? In hindsight you refer to insanity and indoctrination, but back then you believed in it. Take responsibility and move on and stop acting out your want for revenge in cyberspace.

  2. Posted November 27, 2009 at 12:03 AM | Permalink

    Did Hamza Tzortsis “leave” the Hizb after his association with Faisal Mostafa of the Green Crescent charity (No 1099233) was disclosed? This was after it came to light after Mostafa was arrested in Bangladesh trying to leave the country after his involvement with a weapons and explosives factory was uncovered.

    Is Tzortsis a “non-member” of the Hizb in the same way that Farah Ahmed of the Shakhsiyah Foundation is a “non-member” of the Hizb?

  3. integral
    Posted November 27, 2009 at 12:49 AM | Permalink

    irfan is correct, shabab is a collective term for dariseen (plural for daris) and members. this is not a semantic issue, because even if members of hizb-ut-tahrir taught at the school or even ran it, they did so as individuals and not officially under any party duty. hizb-ut-tahrir does not completely dictate the lives of its members or dariseen (dariseen have not made an oath to islam and the party, but still are within the administrative structure). any reading of hizb-ut-tahrir literature at the most basic level (see takatul-hizbi) will show that hizb-ut-tahrir have a disdain, as a party, to engage in any charitable or educational projects, as this is not the method to the caliphate or its duty as a political islamic party (it is set up to call for islam and to re-establish it as a political entity).

    members or dariseen, beyond their official work with the party, are entitled to do whatever they want, provided it is governed withing the dictates of islamic law (other than adopted opinions, that must be followed, members are free to take their reference from any islamic school of law, including shi’a schools. dariseen, on the other hand, are not yet bound to the adopted ideas of the party, that comes after an oath is taken).

    so hizb-ut-tahrir are perfectly correct to say they don’t run these schools, and if the separisitst ideas have influenced the worried parents who send their children to these schools, as an outlet, than it the parent’s choice and you should engage with it on that basis and not whether hizb-ut-tahrir’s plan of ‘world domination’ includes lawyers, teachers and doctors, who are affiliated with the hizb, will always and by necessity be under ‘official party activity’.

    this is really childish, if you’ve left hizb-ut-tahrir, i’d advise you to do something more beneficial and that means bigger issues – world poverty, disease, water provision … in the grand scheme of things this is only relevant to people who already have a project of ‘world domination’ and you know what i mean….

    get over hizb-ut-tahrir,

  4. Irfan
    Posted November 27, 2009 at 8:00 AM | Permalink

    Hamza left before the Green Crescent charity allegations came to light. I say allegations because from what I know the orphanage in question was not involved in violence. Hamza left because he was active in the debating arena and he was veering away from HT. He is now linked with the neo-salafiyyah, Abdur Raheem Green, Yusuf Estes et al. Hamza was an afilliated member (a hizbi), he led halaqaat of the hizb. I’m not sure about Farah Ahmad, I am more than certain she was also a member but has since left, but that may have been in the last few days.

    The problem with discussions on Spittoon and similar sites is that it makes those already with the hizb hardened in their views, there are many people that I know of that are considering or close to leaving and none of the arguments advocated by Spittoon, CSC or QF do anything more than entrench their feeling that there is a conspiracy to get HT.

  5. Posted November 27, 2009 at 10:15 AM | Permalink

    ” I say allegations because from what I know the orphanage in question was not involved in violence.”

    You’re right, it wasn’t involved with violence because Faisal Mostafa and his group were apprehended before they could start using the bombs, explosives and munitions that they had been manufacturing. The Green Crescent charity obviously thought that a British charity and an orphanage was a good front for their terrorist activities.

    If Mostafa had been successful, who knows how many innocent people, *mostly Muslims*, would have been killed?

    If people on this site are “hardened in their views” towards Hizb it is because they are so quick to dismiss real evidence of terrorism and violence as “allegations”, just as you have demonstrated here. So spare us the “oppressed Muslim” act.

  6. Posted November 27, 2009 at 10:21 AM | Permalink

    the arguments advocated by Spittoon, CSC or QF do anything more than entrench their feeling that there is a conspiracy to get HT.

    I am not involved in a conspiracy to get HT. I make no secret of my desire to see them crash and burn.

    I would, for example, outrightly ban HT in the UK.

  7. The Common Humanist
    Posted November 27, 2009 at 2:29 PM | Permalink

    Faith Schools are Balkanising society.

    Islamic / Muslim Schools appear to present a particular problem and even ones which get a good OFSTED report seem to be hell bent on spreading religious hatred and sepratism.

    Unfortunately I feel the only answer is to close them and move the pupils into the mainstream school system. Sorry, but I don’t see any other way to avoid, in a decade or two a serious islamist insurgency in this country.
    If that happens the backlash against the peaceful majority of muslims will be violent and bloody.

    Of course, thats what HuT want of course, anything to push the majority into the arms of the extremists.

  8. Mikey
    Posted November 28, 2009 at 5:48 PM | Permalink

    Irfan comments:

    none of the arguments advocated by Spittoon, CSC or QF do anything more than entrench their feeling that there is a conspiracy to get HT.

    One wonders what Irfan means by the term “conspiracy” in this context. Spittoon is just a blog, and both CSC and QF are think tanks. All three of these are openly opposed to HuT and what it stands for but none of them have any power to do anything as opposed to write their views and say what they think. How can this possibly be a conspiracy?

  9. Aziz
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:59 AM | Permalink

    @Irfan, November 27, 2009 at 8:00 AM

    “Hamza was an afilliated member (a hizbi), he led halaqaat of the hizb.”

    “afilliated member”? In Hizb terminology, you are either a member or not. That’s unless they’ve introduced a ‘new category’ (for VIP’s perhaps?)!
    ….so, was he or wasn’t he (Hamza) a member? It’s like asking Galloway supporters if he (George) is a Muslim or not; you NEVER get a straight reply, which Islamically, IS a reply of sorts!
    I am bemused at the rants and ravings of apostate (in the Islamic sense) ‘x-ht’s’. This proves the point which many and myself used to make whilst MEMBERS of HuT, that Shabab and Shabat in general were deficient in Islamic theology and the zeal to recruit any Tariq, Dawood and Haroon would come back and haunt HuT.
    Anyhow, HuT in the UK was and is considered to be a ‘Milky cow’ (one of Omar Bakri’s favourite pearls of wisdom!), i.e one of the main sources of the parties finance. So, JOHN DUNCAN HARWOOD, you seem to have helped to infuse deep Capitalist concepts in the lads and ladettes after all!

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