Denmark: Debate with Hizb ut-Tahrir

A Danish Muslim association called "Forum for Critical Muslims" (Forum for Kritiske Muslimer) is calling for a debate against Hizb ut-Tahrir. The association intends to work throughout 2008 to keep young Muslims away from extremist communities and at the same time help young Danish Muslims out of those communities.

According to the association's chairperson, religion sociologist and author Sherin Khankna, this is best done through open dialog. She says they will engage in critical dialog with Hizb ut-Tahrir's sympathizers and members and they will try to reach the youth through intellectual arguments. They think that Hizb ut-Tahrir manipulates an artificial chasm between Islam and democracy, and between Islam and human rights.

The Forum for Critical Muslims aligns itself with the prominent British defector from Hizb ut-Tahrir, Maajid Nawaz, who had inspired the strategy of critical dialog. Nawaz had formerly been a member of the British leadership of Hizb ut-Tahrir, but now works to minimize their attractiveness for young Muslims. On April 3-4 he will come to Denmark to deliver lectures and start off the critical debate, together with Sherin Khankan.

Several parties in the Danish parliament have called for a ban on Hizb ut-Tahrir due ot the organization's Islamic anti-democratic agenda. But the Forum for Critical Muslims doesn't think that a ban is the way to go. In stead they will fight Hizb ut-Tahrir in public. Khankan says they will discuss what Hizb ut-Tahrir wants instead of democracy and their criticism about it. They will be critical of their attitude towards history, rhetoric, language, methods and the caliphate they see as an alternative. They will nuance the debate about Islamism in Denmark, since their goal is to offer an alternative to the youth in Denmark who are attracted by political Islam.

Religion researcher Tina Magaard of Aarhus University thinks it can be difficult to talk with Hizb ut-Tahrir. She says that people who do so should be very much aware of what is the aim of the dialog. Hizb ut-Tahrir is one of the leading Islamist organization, and the Danish branch is very limited is how much it can shift in relation to the international leadership. Talking with the young Muslims who are not part of the movement but who move in the circles where Hizb ut-Tahrir recruits is less complicated,

Magaard is surprised at Khankan, she says Sherin Khankan herself had argued for a 'democratic Caliphate', and therefore it's not the issue of caliphate that differentiates the two associations, but how the caliphate would be administered. She had also expressed herself equivocally about Hizb ut-Tahrir. In her recent book she rejects criticism of holy writing and at the same time calls to 'contain' Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Source: BT (Danish)

See also: Interview with former British Hizb ut-Tahrir member

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