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
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