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August 10, 2006

Don't be fooled - New Civilisation magazine is a front for the rejectionist Islamist organisation Hizb ut Tahrir - warns former Hizb ut Tahrir member Shiraz Maher

Posted by Shiraz Maher

New Civilisation magazine presents itself as an:

objective forum ... where the world's thinkers can explore the prospect of alternative solutions to common political problems.
In fact New Civilisation is a front for the rejectionist Islamist organisation Hizb ut Tahrir, reveals former Hizb ut Tahrir member Shiraz Maher.

Announcing the launch of the New Civilisation Foundation, Sajjad Khan, editor of its quarterly magazine, New Civilisation, declared:

As a conflict between Islam and the West is engulfing the world in a cycle of violence, the walls between peoples are now being raised and fortified, yet the world is shrinking. I believe that New Civilisation is a unique attempt to break down the unreasonable barriers that are the tragic irony of modernity post 9/11.
The inaugural magazine suggested great promise. Essays exploring Islamic opinions on globalisation and the impending pensions crisis seemed refreshingly measured. Was New Civilisation emerging to provide a reasoned and responsible direction to the growing chorus of young, angry and disenchanted Muslims?

The magazine is certainly packaged professionally, and the foundation regularly hosts open public debates scrutinising topics from the future of capitalism to nuclear proliferation. With its events being housed in the Toynbee Hall and, more recently, at the International Institute for Strategic Studies these meetings are a world away from the caricatured image of the unkempt "mad mullah" railing against the west from his soapbox in Speaker's Corner.

As Khan suggests, the conflict between Islam and the west has never raged more fiercely, not least because of Islam's inability to accommodate the nomenclature of modernity.

And with the source of these flashpoints becoming evermore frequent - one needs only consider the outage following publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten - who would deny the need for a responsible voice to represent contemporary Islam?

It was this void that the New Civilisation Foundation hoped to fill while breaking down "unreasonable barriers". Unfortunately, closer examination of the foundation and its aims reveals that it is, in fact, anything but new.

Led by Sajjad Khan, the foundation serves as a front for the radical Islamist group Hizb ut Tahrir (HT), or Party of Liberation. Seeking to revive a puritanical Caliphate, the group currently uses the UK as a platform to facilitate the realisation of their aims. The New Civilisation Foundation is one part of this grandiose plan.

Using the pretence of a front organisation allows HT to entertain guests who would otherwise be deterred by their radical ideology. Sunny Hundal, editor of Asians in Media, recently recoiled after receiving a New Civilisation leaflet at a Fabian Society conference telling members of the left to support the return of a Caliphate. Hundal recalls:

The world is becoming a funny place to live in, I remember chuckling to myself, when people start buying this silly propaganda.
Guardian columnist Brian Whitaker was similarly duped by HT's glossy packaging of its extreme ideology. Invited to chair a New Civilisation debate on the Israeli-Lebanese conflict Whitaker initially accepted the invitation before withdrawing after discovering HT's involvement. Whitaker said:
I pulled out when I discovered the connection with Hizb ut Tahrir. The information I was originally given about the meeting turns out to have been rather deceptive.
The use of front organisations is nothing new to HT. Since the mid-1990s the party has been banned by the NUS for its extremist views although this has done little to prevent their activity on university campuses. Operating under a plethora of different aliases such as the Muslim Media Forum, Muslim Current Affairs Society and the 1924 Committee, its members continue to operate and recruit freely at scores of British universities.

Although HT doesn't want to create its Caliphate in Britain, the party's role in the west is extremely important for the realisation of its aims abroad. Using the freedoms it enjoys here the party is able to project both its recruits and ideas back into the Muslim world where it hopes to achieve power through a coup.

In the west, HT offers something that has been missing since the end of the cold war - a war of ideas. And, in this new arena of conflict, HT acts as a vanguard movement in articulating the case for political Islam. Zeyno Baran, director of Eurasian policy at the Hudson institute urges:

It is time to name this war [on terror] correctly; this is a war of ideologies, and terrorist acts are the tip of the iceberg.
This is where HT's numerous front organisations play an important role. While the party believes that its Caliphate must achieve global domination through Jihad and remains committed to the destruction of Israel, since 9/11 it has campaigned fiercely to package its vision of a Caliphate in seemingly harmless terms.

Obscuring many of their more objectionable views and presenting aspects of their ideology as both mainstream and moderate through its front organisations, the party hopes to achieve a wider mandate for its ideas. In this respect they've already achieved some success making government plans to proscribe the group increasingly problematic.

Of course, in itself, there's nothing wrong with robust debate, and HT, or its front organisations, shouldn't be prevented from speaking just because they harbour distasteful views. But this is not simply a question of free speech. If it were, why would HT need to obscure its identity behind aliases?

Hizb ut Tahrir is no talking shop. In essence the party is an active revolutionary movement aspiring to achieve a Caliphate via a military coup and, has already made several attempts to grab power since its inception in 1953.

The west now serves as the frontline for the emerging war of ideas and has become a key component in HT's attempt to galvanise public opinion for the return of the Caliphate.

In HT's opinion, duping the media, think tanks and academics into believing their version of the Caliphate represents no threat to global security is an important part in the process of preparing the groundwork for its return. And this goal remains one of the primary objectives behind the New Civilisation project.

It would appear that in the war of ideas, all is not always as it might first seem. Whitaker warns:

This looks to me like another example of the insidious way Hizb ut-Tahrir operates.
Shiraz Maher is a former member of Hizb ut Tahrir who resigned as a matter of conscience. He is a freelance adviser to the BBC on Political Islam.


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Comments

So, what were the Henry Jackson Society doing organising this event? It doesn't speak well for their powers of organisation.

Posted by: Chana Berlin at August 10, 2006 11:26 PM
•••

Dialogue With Islam is not a Front for Hizb ut Tahrih

I run the organisation Dialogue with Islam.

I don't belong to HT, nor study with them nor agree with their ideas.

They are not for me a reference point of Islam.

The scholars I would refer to would be Sheikh Hassan Ali, Sheik Dawood Noibi(OBE), Tarek Dewany, Abdullah Tretvan (headmaster of Islamia School).

I have used HT and Non-HT speakers in the past because they provide me a vehicle for me to allow Western speakers to dispel myths and conspiracies within the Muslim community - and also to challenge their ideas.

I don't know what else to say - except Dialogue with islam is not a religious or political organisation rather a platform. I always get non-Muslims chair to steer the discussion to talk about issues that Muslims don't normally talk about.

There is no hidden agenda - I have very little knowledge of Islam, religion or politics.
Thanks

Shahinoor

Posted by: Shahinoor Ali at August 12, 2006 02:18 PM
•••

Shahinoor - if Dialogue with Islam then why is Dialogue with Islam repeatedly referred to as an HT front on the MPAC Forum?

Why do you invite HT / "New Civilisation" speakers to all of your meetings as one of the speakers?

Why would Shiraz Maher - an ex- HT member - accuse Dialogue with Islam of being an H T front?

Posted by: Dan at August 12, 2006 02:50 PM
•••

I think people have made a genuine mistake.
Because I have had HT as well as non-HT speakers on the forum they have come to the conclusion (understandably) that DWI must be another front.
New civilisation is HT but Dialogue with Islam is NOT.
I don't know Shiraz Maher but would like to meet him and explain what DWI is about.
I will vist MPAC forum as well and hope to dispel this misunderstanding. In the mean time please come to our events.
I need all the help and advice I can get in organising fruitful dialogue between Islam and West.
Shahinoor@dialoguewithislam.org

Posted by: Shahinoor at August 12, 2006 05:42 PM
•••

Dear Dan,

Shahinoor - if Dialogue with Islam then why is Dialogue with Islam repeatedly referred to as an HT front on the MPAC Forum?

I don't know - If you give me the link I will post a disclaimer

Why do you invite HT / "New Civilisation" speakers to all of your meetings as one of the speakers?
I have had debates with NO HT/New Civilisation Magazine speakers - Debate on Interest with Tarek Dewaney, Evan Davis and Lord Brian Griffiths
Why would Shiraz Maher - an ex- HT member - accuse Dialogue with Islam of being an H T front?

I don't know who Shiraz Maher is.
Thanks
Shahinoor
shahinoor@dialoguewithislam.org

Posted by: Shahinoor Ali at August 12, 2006 09:35 PM
•••

Shahinoor Ali states:

I have very little knowledge of Islam, religion or politics.
Then what exactly is he doing running an organisation called "Dialogue with Islam"?

Posted by: Jon at August 13, 2006 02:27 PM
•••

The above comments - referring to Dialogue with Islam - discuss an earlier version of this article.

Dialogue with Islam's organiser, Shahinoor Ali, insists that Dialogue with Islam is not a Hizb ut Tahrir front:

I don't belong to HT, nor study with them nor agree with their ideas.
New Civilisation - as Shahinoor Ali acknowledges - is however undoubtedly a Hizb ut Tahrir front.

Posted by: Social Affairs Unit at August 13, 2006 03:10 PM
•••

"what exactly is he doing running an organisation called "Dialogue with Islam"?

Are people generally this rude in this forum?

Shahinoor
(shahinoor@dialoguewithislam.org)

Posted by: Shahinoor at August 13, 2006 07:05 PM
•••

Shahinoor Ali - the organiser of Dialogue with Islam - states that Dialogue with Islam has nothing to do with Hizb ut Tahrir.

The debate organised by Dialogue with Islam for 18th August 2006 at Toynbee Hall (The War on Terror - Does it make sense) and advertised on the Dialogue with Islam website (www.dialoguewithislam.org) is now claimed on the New Civilisation magazine website (www.newcivilisation.com) to have been an event of New Civilisation magazine.

Perhaps, Mr Shahinoor Ali may care to explain why this has happened - especially as he states above that:

Because I have had HT as well as non-HT speakers on the forum they have come to the conclusion (understandably) that DWI must be another front.
New civilisation is HT but Dialogue with Islam is NOT.
Why would Mr Shahinoor Ali organse a meeting with an organisation he himself says is a Hizb ut Tahrir front?

Posted by: Social Affairs Unit at August 23, 2006 04:19 PM
•••

I think what Mr Shahinoor is doing with DWI is is excellent

Fist of all I would like to Thank Mr Shahinoor for this superb Idea DWI. I have been to one of the conference and found it enlighten and has really cleared many misconception of Islam, Honestly I used to think Muslims were blood thirst and ready to strike you, If you questioned any of there article of belief. Mr Shahinur has opened a very convincing DWI. And regarding Hizb-ot-Tehrer or New Civilisation very out spoken and Articulated, I must say I was very impressed with problem solving & Islamic views. I think you should avoid in you debated speakers who are not open to real debate.

Thank you, and good luck with DWI.

Alex Minly

Posted by: Alex at November 3, 2006 08:03 PM
•••

The work of HT is in the public domain, its ideas expressed in arebooks and many other publications available for anyone to read. The aim of the party is to re-estsablish the caliphate. The calipahte is the Islamic model of governance derived form the sharia law, the law all muslism would like to live under. Today the muslim world is riddled with despots and dictators, Karimov of Uzbekistan, Musharraf of Pakistan etc all of whom oppose any political opposiation and brutually quell any form of rebllion, as evident by the nature of the poloitcal prisoners in the jails of such countries or the banning of political movements. HT aims to hand back soverignty to the masses. It is not uncommom for those who believe in a value system to desire to live under it. In the west people want securalrism so they choose to live under it. the muslims want to live under the calipahte so they should also be free to determine they model of government in their own lands.

Posted by: shabna at February 18, 2007 03:02 AM
•••

Whilst the content of New Civ may have been well packaged the standard of the articles were definitely suspicious at times. I know because as a 3rd year undergrad I was approached by one of the marketing team to write one for them. What the article hasn't mentioned is that HT also tried to launch Salaam magazine as a lifestyle magazine style front. It folded when the ban was mentioned and they decided to pour their resources into NewCiv.

Posted by: Ex-Shab at October 6, 2007 12:43 AM
•••
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