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Hizb ut-Tahrir Takes a Rest During Game Time

25/06/2011

Please welcome ICSR’s newest blogger, Madeleine Gruen, previously with the Counter Terrorism Blog 

For each of the last five years HT has outdone itself, holding bigger, ever-grander public demonstrations and conferences that, by design, put the organisation and its ideas at the center of heated public and political debate. Now, it looks as though all that forward momentum is slowing down.

HT could be at the peak of the wave as the Arab Spring rolls on, yet it appears only to be banging the drum quietly on the sidelines. If ever, this would be HT’s moment to shine, as revolution may defeat tyrants and pave the way for the re-birth of the Khalifate.

Even Hizb ut-Tahrir America (HTA), which enjoyed big headlines when it burst out of the gate into the public eye two years ago, seems to have hit a wall. HTA’s annual Khilafah conference was announced for Sunday June 26th, yet, as of Friday the 24th the group has not released a specific conference agenda or a roster of speakers. It has not even announced the venue. This is may be because HTA cannot actually find a host in Chicagoland willing to supply a platform for the group’s anti-American, pro-violent jihad message.

HTA made its presence in the U.S. known to the public in 2009 with the announcement of its first major Khilafah conference. While HTA had been active in the U.S. for almost 20 years, 2009 was the first year it held any event without using a cover name. HTA announced the conference more than six weeks in advance, and booked the Grand Ballroom at a Chicago-area Hilton Hotel. For weeks, the mainstream media was all over HTA. Headlines blared that a “terrorist group” was holding a conference in Chicago. U.S. activist groups swung into full action, initiating a campaign to overwhelm the Hilton with protest calls against the decision to allow HTA to use its facilities. On the day of the conference, protesters with signs, flags, and bullhorns lined the street outside the Hilton. The police also lined the streets to ensure peace between the protesters and the approximately 500 conference attendees. To HTA the conference was likely viewed as a huge success, however, Chicago did not desire a repeat performance in its backyard.

In 2010, within days of the announcement of the second public Khilafah conference, the venue selected by HTA, a Chicago-area Marriott, backed out. No hotel in Chicagoland agreed to pick up the event, and HTA was forced to cancel.

Perhaps HTA’s inability to get traction for its Khilafah conference is a sign of the rumored malcontent within the HT global organisation, which Shiraz Maher, an ICSR senior research fellow, exposed in his article “Hizb-ut-Tahrir Implodes.”Maher’s article suggests some major defections by executive members of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain may be as a result of lack of involvement by HT’s global emir, who has been in hiding somewhere in the Middle East for years.

Over the past year, HT has staged far fewer large-scale demonstrations than in years past. There are fewer signs of life on social media sites, and fewer innovative campaigns to grab attention. HT members are driven by hope, and after decades of building the party apparatus, spreading the concept of revolution to overthrow corrupt regimes, and painting the picture of a perfect system of governance guided by the tenets of Islamic law, dedicated HT members must wonder why their emir is not leading the charge down, what could be, the home stretch.