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Analysis: Hizb ut-Tahrir Propaganda Exploits Hindutva Riots in Leicester, England
The international Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir sought to exploit the September Hindu nationalist riots in Leicester, England, to recruit more people to their cause and radicalize potential Muslim supporters in the United Kingdom.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is a well-established pan-Islamist movement, founded in 1953 in Jerusalem by a Sheikh named Taqi al-Din al-Nabhani. Their stated aim is to “establish Islam and carry the message of Islam to humankind, via the re-establishment of the Khilafah.” Their central aims are to unite existing Muslim lands under a single Caliphate and then expand into non-Muslim lands via invitation or Jihad.
The group posted an image on Twitter and Instagram to provide followers with advice and warnings that fell into two sections: opportunities and traps.
On the left side of the image in green, Hizb ut-Tahrir provides a numbered list of opportunities. The first opportunity listed is to expose the media for covering up the Hindutva riots, presenting them as a reaction to a cricket match. They call on followers to expose and emphasize the alleged bias that British media has against Muslims. The second “opportunity” on the list is to expose the racism inside the right-wing Hindu nationalist (Hindutva) movement, which the author(s) of the post present as a paramilitary organization that attacks Muslims and other minorities. The third opportunity is in exposing the UK government and police’s alleged stances against Muslims, who are accused of simultaneously turning a blind eye towards the activities of Hindu nationalists. In contrast to the preferential treatment of Hindus in the UK, they assert, Muslims get labeled and prosecuted for their crimes.
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The fourth opportunity is quite interesting since Hizb ut-Tahrir challenges the notion of nation-states. According to the group, this concept has its origins in nationalism—a negative thing for Hizb ut-Tahrir outside of pan-Islamism. According to Hizb ut-Tahrir, base nationalism gives rise to racist ideologies like Zionism and the Hindutva movement. They state that these ideologies were created to cause death and destruction to Muslims.
The fifth opportunity presents Islam as an alternative system against the Hindutva and the British government. The group mentions that, unlike the latter, Islam does not use minorities as scapegoats. Rather, they bring peace and harmony to all races and faiths.
On the right side in red letters, Hizb ut-Tahrir presents the “traps”. The first is that of identifying ordinary Hindus with the Hindutva. They underscore the fact that the Muslim and Hindu communities have lived together peacefully for decades. The next trap is that of provocation. Should Muslims provoke the Hindutva, British media will present them as irrational, extreme, and violent. Muslims will face charges for violence, while the Hindutva will not. Therefore, the group calls for avoiding violence. The third trap, according to Hizb ut-Tahrir, is that Muslims, by gathering from all over the country to demonstrate, run the risk of giving more oxygen to the Hindutva movement on the streets of the UK. A fourth trap lies in geopolitics: the British government does not want to damage its relationship with the government of Narendra Modi—India being a key international partner of the UK and of course a former colony. Therefore, the post alleges that London will be sympathetic to the Hindutva, while the Muslim community will be left high and dry if not singled out. The fifth trap listed asserts that if Muslims come into open conflict with Hindu nationalists, the British government will introduce more legislation restricting the rights of the Muslim community. On the other hand, there is no legislation for Hindutva or Zionist extremism, according to the post.
It remains to be seen how Muslims—particularly in the UK—will respond to the video, and to what extent it will be viewed at all. The message is likely to resonate with those it does reach, though it is possible that persuasions to avoid direct conflict might upset more reactionary members of the Muslim community who feel the bipolar pressures of unchecked Hindu nationalism that is particularly hostile towards Muslims, and credible claims that the British government and law enforcement spend a proportionally greater amount of energy and resources monitoring their community than they do movements such as the Hindutva, themselves possessing a demonstrable history of militancy.