HT speaker reinstated

The British leader of the Islamist Hizb ut-Tahrir group will speak after all at a controversial debate tackling extremism in London’s East End. It follows pressure to reinstate Dr Abdul Wahid, chairman of the UK wing of Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Tower Hamlets council leader Denise Jones said on Monday that the Cordoba Foundation had agreed to cancel its invitation to Dr Wahid. But by Wednesday, the foundation had changed its mind and reinstated him as a speaker at the debate entitled “Has Political Participation Failed British Muslims?” at the London Muslim Centre in Whitechapel next Tuesday. Cllr Jones, as a result, has ordered that public funding for the event be withdrawn.

But Tory Opposition councillor Tim Archer said it was “not good enough” and has written to the council chief executive. “I acknowledge the council has now withdrawn its public funding for this particular debate,” he said. “But I’m unhappy it is still supporting a foundation that thinks it’s sensible to invite Hizb ut-Tahrir to address our youngsters. It shows a real lack of leadership from the council who seem to want to appease a small minority. Hizb ut-Tahrir is virtually a banned organisation in this country. Gordon Brown has already said he is reviewing its current status.”

He added: “Tower Hamlets would never have anything to do with an event where the BNP was asked to speak. So why is it not distancing itself further from an event where a virtually banned organisation is due to speak? It smacks of political correctness and a real lack of courage to tackle difficult issues. The Cordoba Foundation should be told it will receive no funding if this event goes ahead, not in our name.”

East London Advertiser, 22 February 2008