At massive rally, Hizb ut-Tahrir calls for a global Muslim state
More than 80,000 Muslims gathered in a Jakarta stadium, where clerics also called for implementing sharia.
On Sunday more than 80,000 members of the Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir filled a stadium in Indonesia's capital to call for a united Muslim state that would span the entire Islamic world. Speakers, who came from around the world to Jakarta, blamed Indonesia's economic and social troubles on secularism and democracy. Hizb ut-Tahrir professes to be a peaceful group, but critics accuse it of radicalizing young people and driving them toward violence. Indonesian officials denied several foreign speakers from entering the country for the event. This latest rally has spotlighted once again conflicting views about the role of sharia, or Islamic law, in the world's most populous Muslim nation.Skip to next paragraph
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At the massive gathering a spokesman for the Hizb ut-Tahrir's Indonesian branch called for the resurrection of a Muslim caliphate that once reached from North Africa to Asia. He also argued strongly for the implementation of sharia, reports The Brunei Times.
"We are calling (for) the fight against secularism (because it is) the mother of all destruction, and for a stop to all filthy practices such as corruption, the spread of porn through the media," according to Ismail Yusanto, the spokesperson of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia. "We are also calling on the Muslims to stand up and (be) united to establish shariyah, revive the Khilafah Islamiyyah 'ala Minhajin Nubuwwah (the Islamic caliphate based on the Prophetic tradition) that will bring a blessing for the universe and restore izzul Islam was Muslimin (the dignity of Islam and Muslim.)"
People came from all over the country to attend the event. The British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) reports that Hizb ut-Tahrir has traditionally excelled at attracting and maintaining a sizable number of followers. The group has a secretive recruiting process and it can take years for prospective members to join, according to the BBC. But a number of supporters attending the event say that, member or not, they believe in the party's overall goals.
Milling around outside the stadium we found 24-year-old Akbar. He was not a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, but he said: "This conference is not just for one group. In my opinion, if you support there being sharia law in Indonesia, you've got to be here."
Yani, a student from Bogor, said she had come to show there was support for Islam, and support for a Caliphate too. Next to her, Wisnu told us she was there to increase ties with other Muslims. "Maybe I chose Hizb ut-Tahrir because it unites the masses better than other Islamic organisations," she said.
Hizb ut-Tahrir has long been a controversial organization. Some European and Middle Eastern countries have banned the group, which was founded in Jerusalem in 1953, reports The Independent, a British newspaper.
Critics say that its ideology is close to that of violent jihadist groups, and that it radicalises young Muslims who then choose a path of violence. Hizb ut-Tahrir insists that it opposes violence, and it has denounced terrorist bombings in London, Madrid and [the Indonesian island of] Bali. It has a strong presence on university campuses in Britain, some of which have banned it.