Readers will recall that Bankstown ALP-Right Mayor Tania Mihailuk cancelled Hizb ut-Tahrir’s booking of the Bankstown Town Hall to hold their caliphate conference, citing contractual breaches and the organisation’s record in inciting racial hatred. Ironically, HT’s Greenacre headquarters are in Mihailuk’s ward.
Now her factional colleague from the next door state seat of Lakemba wants Philip Ruddock to proscribe HT using his powers under anti-terror laws. Ruddock’s refusal (backed by the PM) is certainly a slap in the face to critics of his anti-terror laws (including myself) who claimed Ruddock would misuse his powers to proscribe even harmless groups for political reasons.

The ALP clearly wants to look tougher than the government on national security. But it risks alienating much of its support base in some Muslim circles by picking on a group many Muslims regard as harmless. Certainly Muslims (including known ALP members) I spoke to at the HT conference on Sunday expressed strong reservations about HT ideology, but felt the need to attend and show their support for a group they felt was being unfairly targeted.

The Libs at this stage don’t have a candidate in Lakemba. Even if HT’s anti-democratic approach is overnight taken up by Lakemba and Bankstown Muslims, it’ll affect Iemma’s chances even less than a Hilaly-endorsed candidate.
HT’s video presentations showed shocking scenes of death and mutilated bodies in Lebanon and Iraq, all signs of the general powerlessness of what HT describes as “the Islamic world”. HT’s solution is revival of an international caliphate. Yet as speaker Ashraf Dureihi acknowledged, classical Islamic jurists provide no guidance on how a caliphate is to be re-established once dismantled.

This is where all the radical rhetoric of jihad, civil wars and military coups falls flat. HT’s formula for re-establishing caliphate has been challenged by virtually any and all Muslim jurists outside its organisation. Further, whilst distancing itself from non-“Islamic” methods of statehood, HT uses those very methods in its rhetoric.

Dureihi’s six-point plan for reaching the caliphate was so light on details and so full of hot air that even the MC (ironically his brother) couldn’t help but remark Dureihi’s speech “raised more questions than answers”.
Ruddock says ASIO continues to monitor HT. After attending Sunday’s conference, my assessment hasn’t changed. The government is obviously alert, so we needn’t be alarmed.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey