Alexander Verkhovsky. Is Hizb ut-Tahrir an Extremist Organization?

To start with, let me explain why the author, who is neither an expert in Islam, nor a researcher of Hizb ut-Tahrir history and activity, decided to write this article[1].

Systematic and serious persecution of this organization in Russia may be the most large-scale application of the 2002 Law on Combating Extremist Activity.

Hizb ut-Tahrir (hereinafter referred to as Hizb for short, as in its own documents) was listed as one of 15 organizations found to be terrorist by the RF Supreme Court ruling of 14 February 2003. [2]. As terrorism is part of the 2002 Law definition of extremism, Hizb alongside other organizations listed by the Court is automatically found to be extremist, i.e. banned under art. 9 of the Law. Accordingly, any activity on behalf of Hizb is banned and a criminal offence under art. 282(2) of the Criminal Code -criminalized pursuant to the same 2002 Law and punishable, as a rule, under parts 1 or 2 of the said article by imprisonment of up to four or up to two years.

Moreover, under the Law against Terrorism, Hizb activists are charged from time to time under art. 205 (1) (:involvement of others in terrorist activity;) solely for involving others in Hizb. Punishment under this article is much tougher, between four and eight years in prison[3].

Most prosecutions against Hizb members have been under the said articles, rather than for any concrete action - which means that courts fail to consider extremist and terrorist nature of Hizb activities on the merits, and only refer to the mentioned Supreme Court judgment.

But the judgment itself is hardly well-founded. It lacks reasoning behind the Court's opinion. The text of the judgment and specifically its fragment about Hizb[4] says nothing whatsoever about the group's illegal activity in Russia or any terrorist attacks committed by Hizb members or on behalf of Hizb. It is not accidental: there is no such evidence to the best of experts' knowledge, because one of the foundations of Hizb's teaching is non-violence at this stage (see details below).

Neither what the known about Hizb's activity in Russia, nor the text of the judgment meet the definition of terrorist activity contained in the effective 1998 Law against Terrorism. This fact, in and of itself, does not invalidate the Supreme Court ruling, but limits the confidence of any law-abiding citizen in its fairness.

In the absence of a well-founded court ruling, coupled with substantial judicial practice and with natural suspicions towards a radical Islamist organization, it would be appropriate to attempt an independent analysis - maybe, Hizb's propaganda, if not practice, contains something unacceptable for a democratic society - something that we would agree to define as extremist and deserving appropriate and necessary sanctions by the state.

Extremist propaganda may, in principle, consist of incitation of hatred and direct or indirect calls to violence, including a rebellion. Hizb's advocates from among Islamic leaders (such as Mufti Nafigulla Ashirov) categorically object to such assessment of the group's activity. [5]. As long as we wish to form an independent opinion, we cannot trust Hizb's critics, as they may confuse Hizb with other Islamist groups or just take for granted statements made by the Supreme Court in Russia or by President Karimov in Uzbekistan. Similarly, we should not believe Hizb's advocates, as they may have their own agendas in defending Hizb: the mentioned Mufti Ashirov, for example, has been criticized for extremism on many occasions, and hypothetically, he may be interested in defending even "more obvious extremists.;

Unfortunately, the only source of information available to us is Hizb's official documentation[6], while their unwritten propaganda remains largely unknown. But in fact, it is not so important, because organizations guided by strict ideologies tend to keep their written and oral statements fairly consistent[7].

No doubt, Hizb's official texts are based on a specific Islamic manner of interpretation of holy writings, so it would take a good knowledge of Moslem tradition for their full understanding. However, those to whom the texts are addressed do not necessarily have this knowledge; therefore most of the current and potential supporters understand Hizb's texts literally. In fact, Hizb's texts are not designed as theological studies or religious teachings, but as political messages, which can be interpreted with various degrees of depth and contextualization, but are often understood literally. Therefore, we can refer to this literal meaning as the actual :propaganda; contained in the texts.

Another important point is that Hizb's texts are very recent, written about twenty years ago or later, so they are adapted to the mentality, information and associations of our contemporaries, rather than most other religious texts used now for promotion of radical ideas (e.g. The Fundamentals of Tawheed written by Al-Wahhab in the 18-th century and banned by Savyolovsky Court in Moscow in 2004 for being extremist[8].).

* * *

Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Islamic Liberation Party[9]) is one of several movements for the revival of "pure Islam," i.e. an ideal state dating back to the times of Prophet Mohammad and the first, :rightful; Caliphs (such movements are termed Salafiya). The party was established in 1953 and since then developed predominantly in the Arabic Middle East, where it had hoped, through its preaching, to inspire Moslems to rebuild the Caliphate; they rejected the methods of conspiracy and rebellion common in the region. Hizb's opposition to Arabic governments resulted in universal and cruel suppression - no regime in the region was prepared to tolerate radical criticism. There was no need to prove that Hizb was preparing a rebellion or engaged in crime - regimes in Arab countries suppress any attempt at oppositional Islamic movements, for they see such movements as the biggest possible threat.

Since then, Hizb has spread over the Moslem world, entering the post-Soviet Central Asia and Russian regions with important Moslem population. In Central Asia, Hizb alongside other Islamic movements was at its most visible in Uzbekistan and was subjected, as part of political opposition, to tough repression by Karimov's regime: Hizb members and suspected supporters have been arrested, sentenced to long prison terms and often tortured. Uzbek authorities blame Hizb for organizing the unrest in Andizhan in May 2005 and a series of terrorist attacks in previous years. However, it is well known that the Andizhan events were organized by a different group - Akramia[10]; there is no sound evidence of Hizb's involvement in any other terrorist attacks in Uzbekistan[11]. Nevertheless, thousands of people were persecuted and many fled to other countries, including Russia.

In Russia, promotion of Hizb ideology encountered a similar reaction of authorities, although there was much less cruelty due to obvious differences between the political regimes. After 2001 Uzbek members of Hizb were extradited to Uzbekistan, and in 2003 arrests and trials started in Russia - first against nationals of Central Asian countries, and later against local Russians. Charges against them have been under art. 282-2 and 205-1 (see above), but some include illegal possession of weapons, although in a number of cases the Memorial Human Rights Center say they have reasons to believe that weapons were planted on the suspects. Where :terrorist; charges were not brought up, most sentences have been probational, but getting tougher with time. There have been a number of reporter cases of torture of accused persons and witnesses[12].

There has been no consistency across the judicial system. For example, in June 2005 three persons were sentenced in Kazan for disseminating Hizb leaflets under art. 282-2 to 4 years and 7 months each, and a week later in Izhevsk, two persons facing the same charges were convicted each to one year of parole.

The most recent example as of this writing - on 4 August 2005 in Ufa, nine people were sentenced to prison terms between 3.5 and 8.5 years, and only one of them received a probational sentence. Three people were found guilty of possessing ammunition (Memorial believes that the ammo was planted), plus all the nine were also tried under art 210 of the Criminal Code (:organization of a criminal community;) with punishments of up to 10 years for participants and up to 15 years for organizers. The application of art. 210 is a tough measure, used earlier only once in sentencing Yussup Kasymakhunov, an Uzbek immigrant, and his wife Anna Drozdovskaya - the sentence passed on 11 November 2004 by the Moscow City Court was the first of the kind in Russia, and it was confirmed by the Supreme Court on 13 January 2005. Yu. Kasymakhunov was sentenced to 8 years, and A. Drozdovskaya to 4.5 years.

Based on the Memorial Center reports and mass media coverage, it is highly unlikely that Russian Hizb groups prepare themselves to, let alone engage in, violent acts (even if some of them held such intentions, they were far from successful), and there is no question of extreme danger to justify the unfounded ruling of the Supreme Court, torture, abuse and falsifications in the course of investigations. Under the circumstances, defending the victims of abuse is imperative - it goes without saying and does not need further discussion.

But it is normal for human rights defenders - as opposed to defense lawyers - to engage in critical and public analysis of the victim's activity, and this is what follows.

* * *

Hizb ut-Tahrir is an organization focused on promotion of its ideas (:propaganda"), so we will analyze its propaganda to determine whether it calls to violence or encourages violence. (It may be argued that some people in countries other than Russia may have been led by Hizb to use violence, but this argument is too vulnerable to be used here).

We cannot agree with those who accuse Hizb of promoting religious hatred. Hizb rejects as false all religions and ideologies except Islam[13], but this statement is within the limits of acceptable in a secular society (and we must agree with Ashirov's opinion on this).

It is emphasized that Moslems must submit to Islam as a comprehensive view of the world, rather than lend themselves to isolated ideas, including morals, science, :great deeds,; etc. - this approach is shared by all religious fundamentalists, and Hizb is definitely one of them. Hizb documents recognize three consistent, comprehensive and sufficiently global ideologies, namely Islam, socialism and capitalism. All three are understood as underlying a total and comprehensive regulation of people's lives, meaning that :capitalism; includes not only the economic system, but also a way of life characteristic of the Western world. Of course, the generalization is too broad (western countries are diverse, and the :West; does not have clear boundaries; however, these nuances are of little concern for the authors and their audience); in fact, they refer to the same broadly understood concept of liberalism as Russian anti-liberal publicists, but we will stick to Hizb's terminology, while trying to avoid religious wording which adds virtually nothing to our understanding of Hizb's texts.

Understandably, their system of choice is Islam, in its specific version professed by Hizb, i.e. without changes introduced after the :rightful caliphs; (the four who ruled after Muhammad) - and this, again, is a classical fundamentalist perception. Any association of Moslems based on ideas different from the right understanding of Islam is declared sin and even apostasy[14].

We are interested specifically in their rejection of capitalism, because Russia today, by Hizb classification, lives by capitalist ideals. Total rejection of capitalism is proposed, but especially rejection of its mail characteristics, such as secular society (where religion is fully or partially confined to the private sphere, which from Hizb perspective is contrary to the :instinct of worship; inherent in people); civil and political freedoms (often referring to immorality of capitalism, Hizb interprets it unusually as a defense mechanism). Listed separately are principles contrary to Islam: :freedom of belief, freedom of speech, freedom of ownership of capital, and personal freedom.; It is emphasized that :to call for it (democracy - A.V.) is prohibited and to take from it is prohibited under all conditions. ;

Ideally, the only rule must be Allah's will and the Shari'ah Laws - exercised through a rightly elected Caliph (who is elected by Ummah and removed by Imams in case of non-compliance with Shari'ah Laws.). The future Caliphate, as in the times of the :rightful Caliphs" will be single and all-encompassing, without national states or federations. It will be a totalitarian state ruled exclusively by Shari'ah Laws (especially impressive is the proposed economic system, where only gold and silver money will be allowed). The establishment of such Caliphate, ultimately to cover the entire world, is the goal of Hizb.

The book Hizb ut-Tahrir says:

:If the whole Ummah decides to allow... riba or monopolizing or adultery or drinking wine, its consensus will be of no value because it contradicts with the laws of Islam. If it insists on doing so, it should be fought against.;

So Hizb categorically rejects democracy and political freedoms. It believes that the use of force against them is justified. But surprisingly, the party's documents do not further develop this theme. We can assume that the reason is not to disclose their plans too early. Or an even more plausible explanation appears to be that Hizb is not a revolutionary organization and foresees the transition to a universal Caliphate as a long, multi-staged process. So they justify violence against democracy as such, but keep the violence :suspended; and in check awaiting a moment when it becomes relevant. Later we will see that it becomes relevant at the onset of jihad to be led by the Caliphate.

Hizb also denounces as apostasy any conformity to the secular world (:The Muslim is not free in his opinion. His opinion is the opinion of Islam, and it is not allowed for a Muslim to have an opinion other than that of Islam[15];). Obviously, sanctions for conformity are only possible in exceptional cases where some additional conditions are met; otherwise most Moslems would have to be punished. But nothing is said about additional conditions - so it is another :temporarily suspended; aggressive provision.

The book Hizb ut-Tahrir emphasizes that:

:Today we live within Dar al-Kufr (i.e. not a Moslem state - A.V.), because everywhere around us the rules of Kufr are applied. and in this respect society resembles Makkah at the time when the Messenger of Allah was sent by Allah (swt). Therefore, conveying the call to Islam in this situation must be performed through da'wah and political action and not by material means. This is in accordance with how the Messenger of Allah conveyed the da'wah in Makkah, where he restricted his work to the da'wah to Islam and did not resort to material means. The aim in the current situation is not to change a ruler who rules by Kufr in Dar al-Islam; the aim is rather to change the whole of Dar al-Kufr, including its thoughts and systems. Its change is achieved by changing the thoughts, emotions and systems prevailing in it, as the Messenger of Allah did in Makkah.;

With the emergence of a real Caliphate (inexistent since 1924, when the Sultan of Turkey was dethroned), the methods will change, just as it was with Mohammad in Madinah period, when :message and jihad; come together. In particular, it is imperative to fight against an apostate ruler of an Islamic state. However, from Hizb's perspective, no such state exists yet, even in historically Moslem countries, as these are not ruled by Shari'ah Law - or not exactly by Shari'ah Law[16].

The term :jihad,; of course, does not necessarily mean war, but in Hizb's texts its meaning is virtually always that of war. Here is one of many examples; the draft :constitution; of the future Caliphate says:

:Article 56: Jihad is a compulsory duty (farD) on all Muslims. Military training is therefore compulsory. Thus, every male Muslim, fifteen years and over, is obliged to undergo military training in readiness for jihad." [17]

The book Hizb ut-Tahrir says:

"...And therefore jihad is not a defensive war; it is in fact a war to raise the Word of Allah (swt), and it is compulsory originally in order to spread Islam and to carry its message even if the disbelievers did not attack us.;

This aggressive policy, however, is the responsibility of the future Caliphate. The present tense of the text should not mislead the reader: these are, as mentioned earlier, constitutional foundations, so to speak, of the state-to-be. It is possible, however, that Hizb members may hope for an early emergence of Caliphate; initially it may be just in a small area - as it was in Mohammad's times - so they only need to find a "bridgehead."

On the other hand, there is no doubt that their vision of the future shapes the current attitudes, so we should not entirely dismiss such projects as utopist. It is of special importance for us that Hizb envisions various forms of relationships between the future Caliphate and non-Moslem countries (non-Moslem by their system of governance, regardless of the number of Moslem residents); these may be peaceful, aggressive and at war. The third category of countries is, of course, fought against, while relations between the Caliphate and countries of the second category must resemble "a cold war." There is a distinction:

:Countries with which we do not have treaties or pacts include the colonial/imperialist nations like the United States, Britain and France and those countries which have intentions on Muslim lands, like Russia; these nations are considered to be in a potential war (Kafir Harbi Hukman) with the Khilafah.

like Israel, should be considered as states at war with the Khilafah, and as such the basis of all relations are as if war is engaged between us and them, irrespective of the current situation whether one of war or cease-fire. All of such state's citizens are prohibited to enter Muslim countries and the blood and property of its non-Muslim citizens have no sanctity.

A cease-fire treaty can be entered into with these warring nations only for a specified time. These treaties cannot be for an unlimited time, because this abrogates jihad. However, if any of these nations occupies Islamic lands as Israel has occupied Palestine, then legally no peace can be established with her even if the occupied territory only exceeds a square inch, because she has become an aggressor by this act.;

There is inconsistency in Hizb's concept: modern Moslem countries are not regarded as such, because they are not ruled by Shari'ah; however, the concepts of :Muslim countries; and :Islamic lands; exist, and attacks against such countries or their occupation are perceived as being at war with Ummah, so jihad against the attackers is the only possible response.

Regardless of what kind of policy the hypothetical Caliphate would pursue, should it become a reality, even now Hizb's propaganda regards countries which are at war in the :Islamic territory; as enemies. It applies, without any doubt, to Israel, and to those countries whose troops are present in Iraq[18]. It is known that Hizb disseminated leaflets in Uzbekistan, in which the military operation of the U.S. and their allies (under the auspices of the UN) in Afghanistan after September 11 was described as war on Islam[19]. It is difficult to imagine that Hizb would have had any other interpretation of the events.

Another question is whether Chechnya is included in the vague definition of Islamic lands where :not a square inch; may be given to the enemy. In other words - is Russia a country at war with Islam? The book Hizb ut-Tahrir quoted above was written in 1985, so Russia was at the time the USSR fighting in Afghanistan. Chechnya whose territory has never been part of the Caliphate as opposed to Afghanistan may not be perceived as casus belli. Besides, avoidance of confrontation with Russia is consistent with the idea of incremental, step-by-step, establishment of the Caliphate[20].

In a Hizb's document about the history of conflict between Russia and Chechnya, one reads:

"...territories of the Caucasus were discovered by Muslims since Caliph Usman ibn Affan, and most of the population in these lands adopted Islam, thus becoming part of Islamic regions, while Russians were there only for a short period[21]."

But further on, the document does not conclude that Moslems must fight for these regions. Rather, it says that :Moslem armies; should come to help Chechnya, but it is not currently taking place, because the Caliphate has not been restored yet.

Hizb, of course is on the side of the Chechen separatists (in Hizb's terminology - on the side of the Chechen people in their war against Russia and Russians); however, it deplores the known terrorist attacks against peaceful civilians and denies any involvement of Chechens and their armed allies (i.e. Khattab) in such attacks. Hizb perceives separatism as a means in the long fight for Caliphate[22].

Therefore, Hizb builds the needed theoretical foundation to declare Russia a country at war with Moslems, but stops short of such a declaration, postponing it until the time the Caliphate is restored.

But, of course, Hizb leaders who determine which countries are at war with Moslems can change their opinion any time. We need to understand that even now, Hizb leaders believe that they must fight against such countries, even though they do not call upon Hizb members to do so. In the recent decades, there have not been any classical wars except short-term campaigns in the Middle East, so the focus is on guerilla or terrorist activity. Hizb does not use this terminology, because for them any use of force against the enemy is simply war.

This is the spirit permeating Hizb's resolution on hijacking airplanes, dated 1988 and titled The Islamic Rule on Hijacking Aeroplanes[23]. According to this document, it is not allowed to hijack a plane which belongs to an Islamic state or to a state :with whom there is no direct war with Muslims; (it says :war with Muslims," not :with a Muslim country;). However, :if the plane belongs to a country at war with the Muslims, like Israel, it is allowed to hijack it; - even if it is a civilian plane - and to kill passengers, :for there is no sanctity for Israel nor for the Jews in it and their property and we should treat them as being at war with us.;

Therefore, Hizb regards actions which are almost unanimously described as terrorism, as legitimate guerilla actions while being at war. No distinction is made between peaceful civilians and combatants on the enemy side. Apparently, it is due to a perception that the entire population of enemy countries is involved in supporting a war against Moslems. It is not surprising that Hizb has also approved the current suicide attacks of Palestinian terrorists[24]. Religious justification and approval amount to appeals for action in the texts of any fundamentalist organization; however, Hizb avoids direct calls to action addressed to its members (probably, in an attempt to save them for promoting Hizb's ideas).

Nevertheless, we have all reasons to believe (without going deeper into debates concerning a definition of terrorism) that any justification of hijacking planes and suicide blast attacks are forms of supporting terrorism. We should emphasize that Hizb's texts are worded very clearly and leave no room for confusion between direct justification and encouragement of terrorism vs. references to poverty of the Third World countries and similar "reasons" leading to terrorism (this kind of rationale cannot justify terrorism from the legal perspective, although it may count as a moral argument).

The text discussed above was removed from Hizb's English language website a few years ago, but Hizb has made no attempt to disavow the statements, so we can assume that the text was removed out of secrecy considerations, which did not mean a change of attitude.

We can ask ourselves whether Hizb may be preparing a rebellion or a coup d'etat. It is unclear from Hizb documents how a Caliphate can emerge in the territories of contemporary states. Hizb rejects parliamentary methods of achieving a change of regime, and parliamentary methods are not possible in many countries anyway. So a coup d'etat is the only option left. Alternatively, a Caliphate may be established by some other forces, which are not so consistently non-violent. For example, a fairly recent text contains a message for armies of Islamic countries:

"Allah (swt) has obliged you to remove these thrones (of these rulers) who conspire with the enemies of Allah against the blood of the Muslims. Allah has obliged you to help your brothers who are seeking your help in Palestine. [25];.

Whether Hizb is preparing a coup in reality, we are not sure. [26]. We can only say that the party's documents mention historically Moslem countries and their unworthy rulers who conspire with non-Muslims. A Caliphate is first to be restored in the Islamic world, so Russia should not be the first target of such a coup, if any.

It is stated directly in an anonymous interview: :The Islamic world is not understood to include Russia, Europe, China or America, but the Arab countries and countries with predominantly Muslim population. [27]".

The interview goes on to say that Hizb only promotes its teaching in Russia: :Hizb ut-Tahrir members while in Russia, explain Islam without even a remote thought of changing the current [political] system in this country. ; This is not entirely true: in the distant future, the Caliphate is supposed to spread over the entire world. But we can easily believe that in a country so far from Shari'ah as Russia Hizb is more interested in preservation of certain civil liberties, allowing it to promote its ideas.

Therefore, Hizb, in the observable future, will not seek to overthrow Russia's constitutional system and in this sense it should be tolerated.

Going back to the question of weather Hizb promotes religious, ethnic, or racial hatred, to repeat, it is not about theological statements about the wrongs of other religions. In the meaning of art. 282 of the Criminal Code, it is about incitation of hatred against people based on their religious or ethnic identity.

And indeed, Hizb is not entirely innocent in this respect. There is only one target of their hatred - but a really prominent one - the Jews.

Similarly to many other Muslim organizations, Hizb's anti-Semitism is targeted against Israel. In (and outside) the Islamic world, political isolation of Israel - ranging from criticism of its actions to complete denial of its right to existence - is easily extrapolated to Jews who live in Israel or at least support or sympathize with the country. Hizb perceives Israel's war against some of its neighbors as a cruel colonial war against the Moslem Ummah in general, so attitudes to Israel and to anyone who sympathizes with it are about the same as attitudes in the USSR to the Nazi Germany in the years of WWII - in fact, comparing Israel to the Nazi Germany and Zionism to Nazism is commonplace throughout Moslem anti-Israeli propaganda.

Hizb's anti-Semitism has caused the party some problems in Western Europe (the party is banned in Germany). Apparently, this is the reason why some documents have been removed from their websites, although never denounced or disowned. Therefore, we can assume that Hizb leaders hold on to their views. Moreover the documents were removed from the websites just a few years ago.

This is an example of such text dating back to 1999:

:The American people do not like the Jews nor do the Europeans, because the Jews by their very nature do not like anyone else. Rather they look at other people as wild animals which have to be tamed to serve them. So, how can we imagine it being possible for any Arab or Muslim to like the Jews whose character is such?

Know that the Jews and their usurping state in Palestine will, by the Help and Mercy of Allah (swt), be destroyed '..until the stones and trees will say: O Muslim, O Slave of Allah. Here is a Jew behind me so come and kill him'. The signs indicate that this time is about to come. In the forthcoming days the Muslims will conquer Rome and the dominion of the Ummah of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) will reach the whole world...

The dissemination of a later text, in 2002, caused a Hizb activist to be convicted in Denmark, and subsequently the text titled :And kill them wherever you find them" was also removed from Hizb's English language website[29], but remained on the Russian website[30].

This text is even more radical (in general, it condemns the Arab leaders who are not prepared to commit all their efforts to uncompromising elimination of Israel). This text written in the form of an appeal condemns Jews for a multitude of sins, from lies to killings. The text praises suicide terrorists in Israel as shaheeds, calls to :destroy the monstrous Jewish entity,; ending in an overall call to jihad against Jews and :against all those who help them in their aggression;, which may be broadly interpreted[31].

By "Jews" they understand not only the Jews living in Israel - Hizb documents make a clear distinction between these concepts. According to a proponent of Hizb, :the Quran does not mention Zionists, it mentions Jews. [32];.

The following is published on Hizb's Russian language website:

"Muslims must not limit themselves to rejecting normalization of relations with Jews and opposing it, but they must also fight the Jewish aggressors, wherever they are, until they are driven away from Muslim lands.

The relationship that must now exist between Muslims and Jews is that of war, not of normalization and peace with them, until we eliminate them together with their state from Muslim lands. [33]

This type of anti-Semitist propaganda - and also anti-Israeli in its format and context - is undoubtedly incitation of hatred in its most radical form.

If we accept that the above documents downloaded from Hizb's websites reflect its actual position, we also should not doubt that Hizb by these documents calls for violent and even terrorist activity (such as hijacking planes). It is irrelevant that they mention :aggressors;: any calls for terrorism fall under the definition of :extremist activity; in the meaning of the 2002 Law, because terrorism, by art. 1, is a form of extremism, and any call to extremist action, under the same law, is extremist action in and of itself. But even with a critical approach to the wording used in the 2002 Law, any document containing such an explicit and imperative call to violence as illustrated above, should clearly be found illegal.

However, such appeals are not terrorist activity in the meaning of the 1998 Law against Terrorism, because the said law defines terrorism as actual terrorist attacks or encouragement of such attacks - while in the Russian law the term :encouragement; means a direct instruction to commit a certain action, rather than general appeals. Therefore, we can say that by current Russian laws[34], Hizb should not be found a terrorist organization, and the relevant Supreme Court ruling on Hizb was unlawful, as was the application of art. 205-1 of the Criminal Code to its members convicted for :involving others in Hizb.;

So we find Hizb to be an extremist, rather than terrorist, group, i.e. a group which explicitly calls to violence and hatred.

How relevant it is to the Russian situation is a different matter. In Russia, Hizb cannot call to an overthrow of government, the way it can do (see above) in Arab countries. Theoretically, we can assume that due to perceived :deal; between Russia and the U.S. [35] they may regard Russia as a military opponent legitimizing the use of force against it, but we do not know of any Hizb's statements to this effect. [36]. Nor do we know of any documents where Hizb's anti-Semitism extends to Russia, rather than the Middle East. Therefore, we can assume that as of today, Hizb does not call to violence or incite hatred in Russia or with regard to Russia.

Of course, finding documents or other evidence to the contrary is the responsibility of investigators. Should these be found and accepted by court and the public, we could then describe the Russian Hizb ut-Tahrir as an extremist organization, including a relevant finding under the 2002 Law. In particular, it would be interesting to find out how common is anti-Semitist propaganda in the Russian Hizb, and whether Hizb offers any kind of support to actual terrorist groups.

How we should treat the Russian Hizb in the absence of such evidence is a challenging question. Firstly, the Russian Hizb groups are part of an international extremist organization. Secondly, it is obvious that Hizb's propaganda is dangerous for society, because it can contribute to hate crime while the party or some of its activists may potentially engage in direct promotion of violence and hatred in the future. However, a potential danger does not automatically warrant sanctions. (For example, the obviously unconstitutional goal of establishing a Caliphate in the world does not, in and of itself, justify prosecution - in the same way as ideas of restoration of the monarchy or of the proletariat dictatorship).

The modern democratic society has not invented (and appears to be unable to invent) a recipe for limiting or eliminating any influence of radical anti-democratic propaganda. But there is hardly a need to invent a special recipe to counter Hizb's influence - by far, it is not the most important or unusual anti-democratic force in Russia. The current legislation can be successfully used to keep Hizb activity within certain boundaries.

Eradicating Hizb is an utopist idea doomed to failure - just as any ideology, it cannot be eradicated. Moreover, excessive and unfair repression is counterproductive and can actually increase the number of Hizb followers[37]. So the first thing to do is to repeal the Supreme Court ruling of 14 February 2003 in its part concerning Hizb.

It will not legitimize the party or its activities; should Hizb supporters wish to register their organization, they must be instructed under the 2002 Law to remove anti-Constitutional provisions from their official papers. With due supervision of the Justice Ministry, it can lead either to denial of Hizb's registration or to modification of its official documents (such as disavowing certain statements), which would be a positive development in the relationships between society at large and this radical group.

Of course, this potentially dangerous organization and its followers will have to be continuously monitored; increased attention by the law enforcement is well-justified and legitimate in this case.

Rather than broad arrests, targeted administrative sanctions and criminal prosecutions in cases of oral or written calls to violence and/or hatred will be more effective. Should such offences become massive, rather than sporadic, the justice department or the prosecutor's office should appeal to court asking to close Hizb as an extremist group - based on sound reasons, acceptable and convincing for the public.


[1] This article was originally written in early September 2005. The original version was translated into English in February 2006 without changes, except for some footnotes.

[2] The full text of this ruling was not publicly accessible for a long while and for some reason was not even made available to NGOs in response to their enquiries. Currently it can be accessed from the Memorial HR Center website at [].

[3] A longer sentence if committed by someone in official capacity - hardly applicable to Russian Hizb followers.

[4] Here is the entire passage:

:The Party of Islamic Liberation (Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami) is an organization with the goal of eliminating non-Islamic governments and establishing an Islamic rule worldwide through a restoration of :the Universal Islamic Caliphate; - initially in predominantly Moslem regions, including Russia and CIS countries.

Its main forms of activity include militant Islamic propaganda, combined with intolerance for other religions; proactive recruitment of supporters, and targeted efforts to split the society (primarily through propaganda with strong financial support).

Illegal in a number of countries of the Middle East and CIS (Uzbekistan).

[5] Sheikh Nafigulla Ashirov. DUM AChR Conclusion on Hizb ut-Tahrir brochures // Islamnews.Ru. 2005. 6 June (

DUM AChR stands for the Spiritual Board of Moslems in Asian Russia. Sheikh Ashirov is also a co-chairman of the Russian Council of Muftis.

[6] All but a few texts quoted in the original Russian article are published on the Russian pages of Hizb's main website ( The same texts quoted in the English translation of the article are published on the English pages of [] or translated from Russian where no English language version is available.

[7] As confirmed by Vitaly Ponomaryov, a human rights defender and an expert in Central Asia, who has had numerous contacts with Hizb activists in Russia, Uzbekistan and London.

[8] Sergey Sedelnikov. Savyolofiya // Gazeta.Ru. 2004. 20 April (

[9] Therefore, the full name should have been Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami, as indicated in the Supreme Court ruling, but Hizb uses the name Hizb ut-Tahrir in its Russian documents, so we also use this name. We use the Uzbek :ut;, rather than the Arabic :at; in its name.

[10] The events in Andizhan have received extensive coverage - see, e.g. the OSCE Report on events in Andizhan (Uzbekistan). Warsaw: OSCE-ODIHR, 2005. 20 June.

[11] See Vitaly Ponomaryov. Islam Karimov against Hizb ut-Tahrir. M.: Memorial HR Center, 1999; Ibid. Introduction // People arrested and convicted for political and religious reasons in Uzbekistan (December 1997 - December 2003). M.: Memorial HR Center, 2004.

[12] For an overview of persecutions against Hizb in Russia before autumn 2004 see: V. Ponomaryov, Security services against the Islamic party Hizb ut-Tahrir // SOVA Center, Religion in a secular society. 2005. 8 February (/religion/publications/2005/02/d3504/). For recent evidence of persecutions, search SOVA Center: [/religion/]

[13] Detailed explanations are provided in key texts (also published as brochures). The Islamic Personality (; translated from Russian.) etc. Authorship is never indicated.

[14] Starting from here, our analysis is based mostly on the Hizb ut-Tahrir book ( Hizb has published many more key texts in Russian explaining its message (see their website at, but they add little to our research and contain many reiterations.

[15] Hizb ut-Tahrir.

[16] We can hardly imagine the required degree of compliance with Shari'ah Law. The current regime in Saudi Arabia and the regime in Iran under Khomeini are not considered Islamic enough, from Hizb's perspective.

[17] The System of Islam brochure // Hizb ut-Tahrir website (

[18] See: Hizb ut-Tahrir. The Viayat of Kuwait. The despicable submission of the rulers before the open American aggression // Hizb ut-Tahrir website 2003. 29 January (

[19] Dina Malysheva. The Moslem Component of International Policies. // Pro et Contra. 2002. № 4.

[20] Incremental only in the geographic sense; ideologically, a transition to the Caliphate must be total, whereas any reformism is rejected in principle: Can Muslims agree with the idea of :gradual implementation; of Islam? //Al-Nahda website ( As of this writing, Al-Nahda website does not have an English version. The text is translated from Russian.

[21] Chechnya is victim of a deal between Russia and America // Ibid. 1999. 24 November (

[22] Examples of Grozny and Chechens // Ibid. (

[23] The text of the resolution was found posted to a private blog: Hizb ut Tahrir: The Islamic Rule on Hijacking Aeroplanes // Harry's Place. 2005. August 19 (

The text itself (in English) is absent from Hizb's websites, but it was found by the author of the said blog in web archives, by now also closed (a copy is available to the author of this article).

[24] Dina Malysheva. Op. cit.

[25] 'And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out' // Hizb ut-Tahrir website 2002. 31 March ( English text was taken from: [].

[26] The moment of Caliphate establishment is the vaguest part of the generally very clear texts of Hizb. See, in particular, an interesting article by Whine Michael: The Mode of Operation of Hizb ut Tahrir in an Open Society // International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism Website. 2004. February 20 (

[27] This text was published in 2005 and available now in: A report by Isin Aziz about Hizb ut-Tahrir party at the seminar "Theory and practice of preventing manifestations of religious extremism in Tyumen Oblast." // Portal Credo. 2005. 26 December (

[28] The Muslim Ummah will never submit to the Jews // Saved in a web archive (

[29] This information was posted to the blog mentioned above.

[30] "And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out'

[31] :And kill them wherever you find them; // The text itself (in English) is absent from Hizb's websites, but it was found by the author in Google search archives (a copy is available to the author of this article).

[32] Statement by an unnamed Hizb ut Tahrir speaker speaking in a college of London University, quoted from: The Mode of Operation of Hizb ut Tahrir in an Open Society.

[33] Hizb ut-Tahrir. The Vilayat of Jordan. The Prime Minister of Jordan threatens those opposing normalisation with the Jews // Hizb ut-Tahrir website 2000. 5 September ( This document was removed from English web-site.

[34] We do not know what will be written in the new law against terrorism now under discussion in the government. It is possible that the new law will equate appeals of general nature with direct encouragement of a terrorist attack.

[35] See, for example, Chechnya is victim of a deal between Russia and America.

[36] Russia is apparently seen by Hizb as increasingly merging with the :crusader; West, as we can see from the document :Hizb ut-Tahrir Appeal to the Islamic Ummah and especially those with power within it; received by email subscription as this article was completed, on 2 September 2005; however, the appeal does not go as far as call for a war against Russia.

[37] According to OSCE expert on freedom of expression Roman Podoprigora, this is what happened to Hizb in Kazakhstan.

English translation by Irina Savelieva.