The international Islamist political group Hizb ut-Tahrir should be banned as a terrorist organisation, the Home Secretary said, as he branded it “antisemitic” and warned it “promotes and encourages terrorism”.
James Cleverly has moved to proscribe the group by putting an order before Parliament which would make joining the organisation illegal in the UK under terror laws, the Home Office said.
The proposal will be debated in Parliament this week and, if approved, the ban would come into force on Friday making Hizb ut-Tahrir the 80th organisation to be proscribed in the UK.
It would mean “belonging to, inviting support for and displaying articles in a public place in a way that arouses suspicion of membership or support for the group” will be a criminal offence.
I have made the decision to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir in the UK.
Their promotion and encouragement of the abhorrent attacks perpetrated by Hamas goes against everything our country stands for.
Belonging to and inviting support for this group will be a criminal offence. https://t.co/WOanBzzAy8
— James Cleverly🇬🇧 (@JamesCleverly) January 15, 2024
Founded in 1953, Hizb ut-Tahrir is a pan-Islamic fundamentalist group which has been banned in several Arab and Asian countries, including China, as well as in Germany. Austria banned symbols of the group in 2021.
With headquarters in Lebanon, the group also operates in at least 32 countries including the UK, United States, Canada and Australia, with a “long-term goal of establishing a Caliphate ruled under Islamic law”, the Home Office said.
It has organised rallies which took place on the streets of London alongside pro-Palestine marches in recent months, following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Mr Cleverly said: “Hizb ut-Tahrir is an antisemitic organisation that actively promotes and encourages terrorism, including praising and celebrating the appalling October 7 attacks.
“Proscribing this terrorist group will ensure that anyone who belongs to and invites supports for them will face consequences. It will curb Hizb ut-Tahrir’s ability to operate as it currently does.”
The group had described Hamas as “heroes” – which “constitutes promoting and encouraging terrorism” – and has a “history of praising and celebrating attacks against Israel and attacks against Jews more widely”, the Home Office said.
A Hizb ut-Tahrir member could be seen shouting “jihad” in a video from an October march, but the Metropolitan Police said no offences were identified.
The proscription order will cover the entire global organisation, as well as all regional branches, including Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain.
Hizb ut-Tahrir have encouraged and promoted terrorism. Their celebration of Hamas’s attacks on Israeli citizens is a disgrace.
— Tom Tugendhat (@TomTugendhat) January 15, 2024
Conservative MP Bob Blackman last month called for the head of the UK arm of the group Abdul Wahid – who is also reportedly a GP – to be deported, claiming in the Commons that he should have his “right to be in this country” cancelled.
Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said the group “clearly encourage and promote terrorism” adding that their “celebration of Hamas’s appalling attacks on Israel, going so far as to call the terrorists who raped and murdered Israeli citizens ‘heroes’, is disgraceful.”
“We stand firmly against antisemitism and hatred against the Jewish community in the UK”, he said.
The decision was welcomed by Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper who said there had “long been serious concerns” about the group, adding: “Those who incite violence and promote or glorify terrorism have no place on Britain’s streets and must face the full force of the law.”
Criminals convicted of proscription offences could face up to 14 years behind bars or be fined.
The resources of a proscribed organisation are considered “terrorist property” and could be seized.
Once a group is banned its ability to operate “openly in the UK will be significantly degraded”, the Home Office said.
In a statement, Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain denied it is antisemitic or encourages terrorism and said it will challenge the proposed proscription “using all available legal means”.
The announcement comes 100 days since attacks by Hamas, with more than 130 hostages still held in Gaza.
The UK Government has said it supports Israel’s right to defend itself following the October 7 attacks but has urged it to show restraint and act in accordance with international rules.
Former home secretary Suella Braverman joined thousands of people in central London “in solidarity with Israel” on Sunday, chanting “bring them home” with the crowd – referring to the remaining hostages.
Meanwhile, Lord Cameron denied saying Israel has broken international law in Gaza, as he insisted the UK is “incredibly firm” with its ally.
The Foreign Secretary also said it is “nonsense” to suggest that Israel intends to commit genocide, as it faces a challenge from South Africa at the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) over its actions in Gaza.
Later in the Commons Conservative MP Sir Julian Lewis questioned whether organisers of protests should cover part of the policing costs.
Mr Cleverly replied: “We recognise that there is legitimacy to public protests, we do also recognise that the unprecedented and unwarranted pressure that this is putting on policing around the country is having an impact on communities.
“My view is that the organisers have made their point, repeating it does not strengthen their argument.
“And unfortunately we are also seeing some deeply distasteful people weaving themselves in amongst those protesters, who are protesting on issues that they feel passionate about but whose good will is being abused by others.”