Tonight's Panorama, entitled "How I became a Muslim extremist", promises to be no more enlightening than Ed Husain's The Islamist, Maajid Nawaz's Newsnight performance or Hassan Butt's repentance at the altar of the BBC. Fortunately, most of us will be praying taraweeh when it is on.
According to Panorama, a former member of HT, Shiraz Maher, tells his story exclusively to Panorama. Obviously the good chaps at Panorama are a little quick to claim an "exclusive", given that I have read Maher's account numerous times over the last two years including in the Times and the New Statesman. I have also seen him on several occasions on Channel 4, More 4 and Newsnight. So this is hardly an exclusive!
Maher is obviously seriously unhappy on missing out on all the biryani at family weddings - the Panorama website notes that after joining HT Maher refused "to go to family weddings because the women were not segregated".
Judging from the allegations from Panorama's website and the HT response on the Panorama website, it seems to be the same old stuff that has been going around for at least a decade i.e. HT don't believe in democracy, HT is a 'conveyor belt' to terrorism (although Husain, Maher and Nawaz jumped off at the BBC?), HT want to destroy the state of Israel, HT want Shariah all over the world, Omar Sharif was linked to HT, HT has threatened former members, HT hates Britain, etc, etc.
From the clip on this morning's BBC Breakfast, we will hear from Maher's friend Thom Dyke, who alleges, shock horror, that when Maher became involved with HT he deleted all the phone numbers of girls he knew from his phone - Nawaz made a similar revelation on Newsnight when he said that when he joined HT he had to leave the "girls".
In an earlier thread, I wrote, "We cannot underestimate the actions that the Government are taking with respect to the Muslim community. Is it that surprising that some Muslims will be used to infiltrate Islamic groups, not only to provide intelligence, but to leave at an opportune moment amidst a blaze of publicity? Of course, many Muslims leave one Islamic group or another, but generally they rarely decide to sell their story to the highest bidder or seek to divide the Muslim community. Those who have become disillusioned with the 'Islamic scene' tend to just fade away and those who have genuine disagreements tend to move on to pastures new."
The journalist Radhieka Pandeya has contrasted Maher's old views with his new views. It appears that his change in views brings new meaning to the word U-turn. While Maher now accuses HT of violence, Maher previously wrote that, "The Hizb has never engaged in violence against any regime. Rather our struggle is intellectual and political." He also wrote, "Despite vain attempts to slander the Hizb and associate her name with terrorism the German government much like the Uzbek, Jordanian, Syrian, Egyptian administrations has failed to show demonstrate any such link." About Iraq, Maher previously wrote, "In the month of Ramadhan - the month of victory - May Allah (swt) punish the disbelieving soldiers, May He (swt) make Iraq a graveyard for them and their colonialist plans and may He (swt) punish them by our hands and heal the hearts of the believers."
Others have rightly asked why Maher did not inform the authorities if he had concerns about Bilal Abdullah and Kafeel Ahmed who are alleged to have undertaken a terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport. Given that Maher left HT immediately after 7/7, why is it that he waited two years before stating his concerns?
There are also inconsistencies in Maher's new position. In an article in the Sunday Times, Maher writes that it was when studying for a doctorate in Cambridge that he began to question HT's philosophy. Maher writes of his admiration for Abul Kalam Azad,
"When independence came in 1947, Azad resisted the creation of Pakistan. Forming an exclusionary political identity in this way was against the essence of Islam."Maher does not mention Azad's well documented views on the institution of the Caliphate and the relationship between religion and politics. Delivering the presidential address at the Calcutta meeting of the Bengal Provincial Khilafat Conference in 1920, Maulana Azad declared that he had no doubt that “without an Imam, their lives were un-Islamic and that they would be damned after death”. Maulana Azad published a book in 1920 called Masla-e-Khilafat (The Issue of the Caliphate), in which he wrote that: “Without the Caliphate the existence of Islam is not possible, the Muslims of India with all their effort and power need to work for this”.
Following an article by Maher in the New Statesman, a previous personal acquaintance of his, Sajid W, felt compelled to address some of Maher's inaccuracies. Sajid writes,
Brother Shiraz why are you dishonest over the one matter you should know best.
I note that in this article you have tried to avoid the lies in your previous accounts of your "recruitment". You have now admitted that when you moved to Leeds you "already knew about Hizb ut-Tahrir".
However that is not what you wrote in the Times Higher Education Supplement [3 February 2006] when you said that you first met HT at Leeds University where you were "recruited".
Did we not attend HT study circles in Birmingham Central Mosque together for several years when you were at Solihull School and I was at King Edward's?
You had first approached members of HT many years previously when you lived with your grandfather in Harborne in 1994. I remember that you asked to join HT at that time, but rather than ‘recruit’ you , HT merely explained its thoughts to you, and did not make any efforts to meet you again.
Many years later you again actively approached members of the party at a mosque in Leeds. In the article last year in THES you alleged that you had been approached at university - I am glad that you have now admitted in this article that your previous account was inaccurate.
With so much dishonesty why should anyone now believe your account?