The British branch of a world-wide radical Islamist group, Hizb ut-Tahrir, held a conference in London on Saturday, in which speakers called for the overthrow of Muslim governments and their replacement with a single Islamic state, known as the caliphate. According to Hizb ut-Tahrir's website, "thousands" of people attended the conference.
Hizb ut-Tahrir - the Liberation Party in English - is active in dozens of countries, but has been banned in several Arab states, as well as European countries such as Germany and Russia. It is also illegal in China. In Britain, the organization is still legal, despite instances of the group's members and websites being found to promote anti-Semitic incitement to violence and calls for suicide bombings. In Australia, the organization is facing the prospect of a ban.
During a House of Commons Debate last month, Conservative Opposition leader David Cameron asked British Prime Minister Gordon Brown: "On Hizb ut Tahrir, can I ask him again: why is there still not a ban? It's not just banned in Sweden and Germany. It's banned in Egypt and Pakistan as well. The fact is two years ago, the then Prime Minister didn't say he would look into banning this group. He didn't say he would review it. He didn't say he would consider it. He said he would do it. Why can't the Prime Minister make the same pledge today?"
Brown responded by saying that "you have to have evidence" before placing a ban, adding that a number of investigations have been carried out into the group. "I hope he will agree with me that we approach these things in a sustained way and in a calm way and we do not jump to conclusions, we look at all the evidence," Brown said.
At its conference in north London on Saturday, the leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain, Jalaluddin Patel, said that the call for the establishment of a global Islamic state "holds currency on the streets of Cairo, on the streets of Karachi... and on the streets of Tripoli. And indeed in almost every city in the Muslim world."
"Brothers and sisters, ladies and gentlemen, plans are being made east and west... for this Muslim world," Patel declared.
"We from Hizb ut-Tahrir believe passionately that true liberation will come to the Muslim world when we dispense with these ruling elites and these western-inspired systems, and in their place we establish Islam through state and society," he said, adding that "Islam solves each and every problem that the Muslim world faces today."
Taji Mustafa, a high-profile Hizb ut-Tahrir member in Britain, who makes frequent media appearances, lamented the state of the Muslim world, and slammed Muslim governments for failing to "liberate Palestine."
"Why, after all these years, is Palestine still occupied? Is it because the Muslim masses do not want to liberate the land...? No. Is it because the neighboring states do not have the resources to occupy Palestine? No. It is because the rulers of the Muslim world refuse to mobilize the ummah (Islamic nation) to liberate this land. Instead, (they are) like the Saudi kingdom. Only a few days ago, Saudi Arabia decided to sit down with Israel to negotiate - the surrender process - to hand over Palestine," Mustafa said.
"Palestine remains occupied because there is no sincere Islamic leadership that would mobilize the ummah that would liberate the land," he added.
Mustafa also blamed poverty in Islamic countries on the absence of an Islamic state, saying: "Although Islam has a defined system for managing public wealth (and) public utilities for the benefit all the citizens of the caliphate, the rulers ignore that, they run to the western model, western capitalism is what they want to embrace."
"How come Iraq and Afghanistan are occupied?" Mustafa asked, blaming Pakistan and the Gulf states for assisting and hosting western military forces. "These leaders got together and invited western leaders to come. Blood is also on the hands of every Muslim ruler," he added.
'New dawn of Islam'
Abu Shaker, an activist from Hizb ut-Tahrir in Lebanon, also addressed the conference. Shaker has in the past been arrested by Lebanese security forces following a TV interview on the LBC channel.
"Next week marks the 83rd anniversary of the collapse of caliphate, that unprecedented tragedy in the history of mankind where the Islamic way of life came to a halt, a halt that we believe is only temporary one. We look forward to the rising new dawn of Islam," Shaker said.
"The kuffar (infidels) want to extinguish the light of Allah by their mouths," Abu Shaker said. Quoting the Koran, he added: "It is He who has sent his messenger with the guidance and religion of truth to make it victorious over all other religions even if the polytheists reject it."
Last week, Hizb ut-Tahrir members went on trial for terrorism charges in Kazakhstan.
In the past, Hizb Ut-Tahrir members in Denmark distributed leaflets calling on followers to kill Jews "wherever you find them," and stating: "The Jews are a people of slander...a treacherous people... they fabricate lies and twist words from their right context."