Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Vol. 28, No. 1, April 2008
Islam in Britain and Denmark: Deterritorialized Identity and Reterritorialized Agendas
Abstract This article is based on case studies of two Muslim groups: Hizb ut-Tahrir and Muslimer i Dialog (Muslims in Dialogue). In the article, basic elements in the ideology and activities of the Islamist and fundamentalist Hizb ut-Tahrir are outlined and the Danish and British sections of the group are compared in terms of agendas, members and image. Furthermore, a comparison between the Danish section of Hizb ut-Tahrir and another and more recent Danish Muslim organization called Muslimer i Dialog is made. In the ...view middle of the document...
Rival groups have existed for short periods and other more mainstream groups have appeared on the Muslim activist scene as a more or less direct response to the political climate created by the rhetorical exchanges between Hizb ut-Tahrir and sympathizers on the one side and Danish right wing parties and sympathizers on the other. The following analysis is based partly on research of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Denmark and Britain since 20011 and interviews with members conducted in 2003 and partly on ongoing research on new activist Muslim groups in Denmark and the concepts of identity and network among members. In this article, I will discuss Hizb ut-Tahrir’s deﬁnition of the Caliphate and ummah and compare these to the underlying understanding of the ummah of a seemingly diametrically opposite organization in Denmark, namely, Muslimer i Dialog (Muslims in Dialogue). As it turns out, the understanding of the Muslim ummah has similar implications in the two groups.2
ISSN 1360-2004 print/ISSN 1469-9591 online/08/010045-8 # 2008 Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs DOI: 10.1080/13602000802011051
The Caliphate Connection Hizb ut-Tahrir (The Party of Liberation) was established in 1953 in Jerusalem. Since then, the group has set up branches in the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia. ´ The present leader Ata Abu Rashta has held the title since 1 May 2003 and is most probably residing in Jordan.3 Today, there are functioning sections in all Western European countries, the biggest are found in the UK and in Denmark.4 The purpose of the group is explained in a Party document entitled “Hizb ut-Tahrir”: Hizb ut-Tahrir is a political party whose ideology is Islam, so politics is its work and Islam is its ideology. It works within the Ummah and together with her, so that she adopts Islam as her cause and is led to restore the Khilafah and the ruling by what Allah (swt) revealed. Hizb ut-Tahrir is a political group and not a priestly one. Nor is it an academic, educational or a charity group. The Islamic thought is the soul of its body, its core and the secret of its life. (. . .)5 According to this passage, Islam is a complete system of guidelines for a way of life, including politics, faith, economy and welfare. In Hizb ut-Tahrir’s understanding, politics and religion cannot be separated. The Caliphate is seen as a system of government that has been given by Allah, and Hizb ut-Tahrir works towards the reestablishment of the Islamic Caliphate. Historically, Caliphate (the word stems from the Arabic khalifa which means substitute or deputy) refers to the system of government imposed by the Arabic tribes after the death of the Prophet Mohammed in 632. The Caliphate was continued under the Ummayade Dynasty (661 –750) centered in Damascus, the Abbaside Dynasty (750 –1517) ﬁrst centered in Baghdad, afterwards in Egypt. Between 1517 and 1924, the Ottoman Sultan had the title of Caliph until Kemal Ataturk abolished the last Caliphate as...