A conference sponsored by a radical Islamic group Hizb-ut-Tahrir, the Islamic Liberation Party, in Birmingham on Sunday stirred up passion and thereby, an emotive controversy in the Muslim community again. Over 7000 delegates were estimated to have attended it to discuss the theme "British or Muslim".
The group, founded in Jerusalem in 1953 with the aim of creating a single Islamic state ruled by sharia, was banned in much of the Middle East and Central Asia after an attempted coup in Egypt in 1974.
The only Muslim MP in Birmingham has likened the group to the British National Party and said he feared young people were being misled. The MP, Khalid Mahmood, said the group should be "treated in the same way as BNP as fringe element."
It is significant that coinciding with the conference, a poster celebrating the terrorists who carried out the September 11 attacks in the US has been produced in Birmingham. The Al-Muhajiroun group reportedly said that it intended to paste the poster in British cities to advertise a meeting they wanted to hold on the aniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
The poster has on it, "Islamic Conference - Sep 11th 2003" at the top. It further says, "the magnificent 19 that divided the world on September 11th . " ... they were youth who believed in their Lord and we increased them in guidance."
A spokesman said that the meeting's venue would be kept secret until the day to avoid being closed down. This group, too, campaigns for a worldwide Islamic government including turning Britain into an Islamic state. But it has denied recruiting Muslim youth for terrorism.