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.”
A Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman, Wassim Doureihi, said calls for the group to be banned were misplaced: the group was opposed to terrorism.
Hizb ut-Tahrir says it is non-violent but it has been proscribed in many Middle Eastern, European and central Asian countries after being deemed a threat to national security.
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.
At yesterday’s conference, there were harsh words for the West’s policies in the Middle East and their role in propping up “corrupt dictatorships” in the Muslim world.
“Muslims are the most humiliated among the earth’s peoples,” Sheik Issam Amera said.
“The West treats them like slaves and their lands as their backyard gardens.”
Indonesia’s Ismail Yusanto said an Islamic state was coming and that “Western powers will likely attack the newly formed caliphate. We must mobilise for an impending conflict,” he said.
WHAT IS HIZB UT TAHRIR?
An international movement founded in 1953 that wants the return of an Islamic caliphate based strictly on sharia law and the teachings of the Koran.
Regards Middle Eastern governments as corrupt dictatorships and the West as inherently anti-Islam. Vehemently anti-capitalist.
Believes Islamic societies that followed the death of Muhammad were idyllic.
Sees every Muslim’s sacred duty to re-establish caliphate. Officially eschews violence.