January 23, 2024 | Sensemaker

The UK government bans Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir

ISD’s Resident Senior Fellow Rashad Ali is a guest on Tortoise Media’s Sensemaker podcast, discussing the UK government’s recent decision to designate the Islamist group Hizb-ut Tahrir (Hu-T) as a terrorist organisation.

In this episode, he spoke about his own experience with this group: “When I was 15, I joined Hizb-ut Tahrir, and I ended leaving the organisation after being in its national leadership.”

The group became a priority in his life. “It’s more important than your career. It’s more important than your university education. It’s more important than your family. So in that sense, it is very cult-like.”

The group had been involved in several coup attempts but adopted a strict non-violent stance in the late 80’s. Even so, they continued to believe and encourage the overthrow of governments around the world.

“They don’t believe in the legitimacy of any country,” Rashad explained. “They believe that no diplomatic relations can happen with any Muslim country. You can only take them by force, which means coups and warfare. And they will say things like even if millions of Muslims are killed, they are happy to do so. You realise the other side of this is dark, and the other side of this is totalitarian.”

The UK government had been trying to ban the group for almost 20 years but was legally advised against doing so due to the group’s non-violent stance. However, the Palestinian branch of H-uT’s recent statements welcoming Hamas’ terrorist attack against Israel on October 7 gave the British government an avenue forward. It could now argue that the group was inciting and glorifying terrorism. Although, this may not be final. The UK branch is planning to challenge the ban in court, likely arguing it’s a separate from the Palestinian group.

Rashad explains how proscribing the group may lead to individual members regrouping under different names in the same way they did in Germany, a country where the group has been banned.

In Germany “they do do activities but just not under the name of Hizb-ut Tahrir, and they have all sorts of other front names as so we may end up in a sort of whack-a-mole banning different front groups, that’s a possibility.”

The episode is available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

An Explainer on Hizb-ut Tahrir is available on our website.