UK government moves to ban pro-Hamas Islamist group

If the ban is approved, being a member will be a criminal offense, punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

By The Associated Press

The U.K. government said Monday that the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir is antisemitic and should be banned as a terrorist organization.

Parliament will debate this week a proposal to make joining the group illegal in the U.K. under terrorism laws, the Home Office said. If approved, the ban will take effect on Friday.

The group, which is based in Lebanon but operates in more than 30 countries, including the U.S. and Canada, has organized rallies in London alongside pro-Palestinian marches in recent weeks, following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.

Police said that one member was seen chanting “jihad,” or holy war, in a video from an October march, though officers reviewing the evidence decided at the time that no offenses were committed.

“Hizb ut-Tahrir is an antisemitic organization that actively promotes and encourages terrorism, including praising and celebrating the appalling Oct. 7 attacks,” Home Secretary James Cleverly said.

Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said the group’s celebration of Hamas’ attacks on Israel was “disgraceful.”

The group also has a “history of praising and celebrating attacks against Israel and attacks against Jews more widely,” the Home Office added.

Read  WATCH: Muslims in UK chant for Sharia law

Hizb ut-Tahrir, which seeks to unite the Muslim world under a theocratic caliphate, has been banned in several countries, including Germany, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, China, and Pakistan. Austria banned symbols of the group in 2021.

There has long been a debate in the U.K. to outlaw the group, but the government’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation wrote in 2011 that the group had not advocated violence.

Calls to review that policy have intensified since Hamas’s attacks in October.

If approved, the ban would mean that belonging to or inviting support for the group is a criminal offense, punishable by up to 14 years in prison.