‘It is outrageous that the spiritual leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a radical Islamist group, can deliver such an inflammatory speech and publicly threaten violence with impunity’.

By Gareth Narunsky
The Australian Jewish News
September 10, 2020

AS counter-terrorism police investigate the latest hate-fuelled rant from Hizb ut-Tahrir spiritual leader Ismail al-Wahwah, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) has said that “it would be entirely appropriate” for the federal government to review the organisation’s legal status.

The speech was delivered at a rally in 2017 but only uploaded to YouTube on July 29 this year. In it, al-Wahwah railed against the US recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and threatened both Jews and moderate Arab leaders who recognise Israel.

“The very knife with which you cut Palestine is a criminal, infidel, hypocritical knife, and it will be turned against you … This knife will sever your heads from your bodies, just like you severed East Jerusalem from West Jerusalem,” he said.

“To the entity of the Jews we say: Do not rejoice … The day will come when you will cry blood. There will be no place for you in Palestine.”

He continued, “We extend to you the following words of advice: Whoever among you has any brains should take his passport, leave Palestine … Go back to where you came from as invaders, or else you shall meet your fate, and we both know what that means.”

The rant was referred by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD) to NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman, who said he was “horrified by the shocking statements of violence”.

A police spokesperson said officers from the NSW Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics unit have commenced inquiries.

It will be the first test for NSW’s new anti-incitement laws introduced in 2018, following the JBOD-led “Keep NSW Safe” campaign, which was initiated after the then-laws were inadequate to prosecute al-Wahwah for a previous speech.

In a 2015 video, al-Wahwah called all Jews corrupt and a “hidden evil”, and said “the ember of jihad against the Jews will continue to burn”. In another speech, he said, “They [Jews] will pay with blood for blood, with tears for tears, and with destruction for destruction.”

JBOD president Lesli Berger said it needs to be made clear that “there can be no tolerance for such bigotry in this country”.

“It is outrageous that the spiritual leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a radical Islamist group, can deliver such an inflammatory speech and publicly threaten violence with impunity,” he said.

NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel chair Natalie Ward MLC said she plans to denounce the “disgraceful video” in Parliament next week.

“I echo the Attorney-General’s remarks and I encourage anyone who feels threatened by the content of these shocking videos to contact the NSW Police,” she said.

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council’s director of international and community affairs Jeremy Jones said al-Wahwah “should face legal consequences for his justification for, and rationalisation of, murderous violence”.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is an Islamist political organisation that seeks the creation of an Islamic caliphate.

It has long stated that it does not advocate violence in pursuit of its ideology, but the ECAJ said this position “is plainly ludicrous when their spiritual leader speaks of the beheading of political and racial enemies and threatens the deaths of millions of Israeli Jews”.

Asked whether the federal government would consider banning the group, the Department of Home Affairs said it does comment on individual organisations, but said the issue of who should be proscribed as a terrorist organisation “remains under active review”.

“Hizb ut-Tahrir is not listed as a terrorist organisation in Australia under the Criminal Code,” a spokesperson said.

“This is consistent with the approach taken by the United Nations Security Council, and other western nations.”

Meanwhile, al-Wahwah said in an August 19, 2020 episode of his weekly podcast that was posted to Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia’s Facebook page that the Islamic nation will never accept the cancer of the “Jewish entity” in its body, and that it must be removed.