‘The enemy within’

Tatchell No Islamic StateSunny Hundal takes issue with Inayat Bunglawala’s statement that Hizb ut-Tahrir are “a non-violent party and have every right to spread their ideas peacefully”.

Predictably, Hundal wins the approval of that other expert in self-promotion, Peter Tatchell, who comments:

“The political goals of Hizb ut-Tahrir are the Islamist equivalent of the BNP – only much worse. Why are there no anti-fascist campaigns against Hizb ut-Tahrir, just like there are anti-fascist campaigns against the BNP?”

Comment is Free, 1 April 2007

This illustrates very clearly how Tatchell’s Islamophobia has led him to lose all contact with reality.

The British National Party is a white supremacist organisation which, according to its own constitution, is “wholly opposed to any form of racial integration between British and non-European peoples” and aims to restore “the overwhelmingly white makeup of the British population that existed in Britain prior to 1948”.

HT, by contrast, is an organisation based on a small section of the Muslim community – a minority ethno-religious community who are in fact the primary victims of the BNP’s malevolent racism.

On these grounds alone, it should be obvious that equating the BNP and HT is an absurdity, never mind declaring that HT is “much worse” than the Nazi-inspired BNP.

The criticism to be made of HT’s members is that they have drawn mistaken conclusions about how racism and imperialism are to be resisted, which has led them to abstain from mainstream politics in Britain. This is why other Muslims have sought to engage in dialogue with HT.

Sunny Hundal condemns Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain for adopting this approach. Who exactly would gain if the MCB were to accept Hundal’s demands and break all relations with HT?

It is in any case difficult to see how HT’s constitution, to which Tatchell and Hundal attach such significance, represents any danger to the public in Britain. HT’s plan to restore the caliphate is restricted to majority-Muslim countries and they explicitly reject the view that a caliphate can be established in the UK. Given that there are 1.6 million Muslims here out of a total population of 60 million, this would appear to be a realistic assessment.

The BNP, by contrast, poses a real live political threat. It has over 50 councillors across England and unless it can be rolled back over the next year looks set to win one or more seats on the London Assembly in 2008. Wherever the BNP succeeds in getting elected the confidence of racists is raised, and violence and intimidation against minority communities increases.

Violence is at the heart of fascist politics. In February this year a BNP member, John Laidlaw, was convicted of attempted murder after shooting passengers at Finsbury Park station in London. Laidlaw had told police that he wanted to “kill all black people”.

The same month we saw another BNP member, Robert Cottage, admitting to stockpiling explosives for use in a future race war (or so he claimed – some of us might suspect that he had rather more immediate objectives in mind).

Cottage was no mere paper member of the BNP. He stood as a BNP candidate for Pendle Council in Lancashire in May 2006, when he came third behind the two successful Lib Dem candidates, out-polling both the Labour and Tory parties. A fellow BNP candidate is now a councillor in Pendle, having topped the poll in another ward.

There is nothing remotely equivalent to this sort of violence in the practice of HT, and the most Tatchell can come up with is the accusation that HT members once threatened him many years ago. This example would appear to date from before Omar Bakri and his supporters were expelled from HT in 1995, which makes the case irrelevant to determining the present character of the organisation.

All this is par for the course with Tatchell, however. His anti-Muslim bigotry led him to protest against the MCB being given a platform speaker at last year’s Unite Against Fascism conference, in circumstances where the BNP were gearing up for an election campaign in which their racist propagands was primarily targeted against Muslims.

Tatchell’s position then was characterised on Islamophobia Watch as “objectively pro-Nazi“, because he was undermining the fight against fascism. His current claim that a non-violent and politically marginal Islamist organisation like HT is “much worse” than the BNP serves exactly the same purpose.