Saturday, July 23, 2005

Radical Islamist Groups at Auckland University?

One News had a news item about radical Islamist groups allegedly preaching at Auckland University. The groups concerned are "Hizb ut Tahrir, a group banned in Britain and Germany" and the "Saudi charity organisation Al-Haramain shut down last year for funding Al Queda". The information is slightly incorrect. Hizb et Tahrir is not banned in the UK; it is however significantly objectionable that the Guardian has just sacked one of their trainee journalists for belonging to it. From the Guardian news-release:
Hizb ut-Tahrir is a legal organisation in this country, though banned in others. It is described in an internal Home Office briefing note as a "radical, but to date non-violent Islamist group."

The note says of the organisation that it is "an independent political party that is active in many countries across the world. HT's activities centre on intellectual reasoning, logic arguments and political lobbying. The party adheres to the Islamic sharia law in all aspects of its work."

The note adds: "It probably has a few hundred members in the UK. Its ultimate aim is the establishment of an Islamic state (Caliphate), according to HT via non-violent means. It holds anti-semitic, anti-western and homophobic views."

Different countries and organisations take varying views of the Hizb ut-Tahrir. It is banned in Russia, Germany and Holland. In this country the National Union of Students has barred Hizb ut-Tahrir from its unions, claiming the group is "responsible for supporting terrorism and publishing material that incites racial hatred".

The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) is reported by the Home Office to hold the view that "although not a serious threat at present would be naive to think that if we leave them alone, they will go away. They are an organised minority group who are determined to make themselves and their albeit unrepresentative voices heard."
This group is so extreme that they even made death threats against George Galloway(!) for encouraging Muslims to vote.

Al-Haramain is less of a concern to me because not only is it now defunct, the problem was poor financial controls over where the money ended up. In other words, while most people within the chairity as well as those that donated to them flet the charity was raising money for the poor, terrorist sympathizers and useful tools within the charity were diverting funds towards Al-Qaida. Hence that an Al-Haramain representative spoke on campus is not as disturbing as the possibility that a Hizb ut-Tahrir representative might have done so.

So how does the Auckland University Islamic Association explain the allegations? From One News:
But the Auckland University Islamic Association rejects Soltanian's comments and says the allegations may have their origin in student politics rather than the politics of global terror.

Current president Ran Mahmoud says Soltanian fell out with the association three years ago. Mahmoud was in the audience for one of the lectures Soltanian claims was inciting violence.

"It was just normal Islamic teachings - prayer, being a good Muslim, being a good positive contributing member of society...he said nothing violent or radical," says Mahmoud.
Is Mahmoud actually admitting there were visits by Hizb ut-Tahrir and Al-Haramain?