Little has been made about yesterday's "The Fall of Capitalism and the Rise of Islam" conference that was held at the Hilton Hotel Grand Ballroom in Oak Lawn, IL. The conference was held by the group Hizb Ut Tahrir; a group that has been banned in Germany, Russia, Pakistan and several other Middle Eastern countries. Yet most mainstream media organizations in the United States didn't even bother to mention the event.
Indeed. Although the story did appear in Chicago's suburban Southtown Star, the paper's sister publication, the Chicago Sun Times penned it as an "ecomonic session" and homogenized the coverage as follows.
The estimated 800 attending the conference discussed issues related to the global capitalist economic system and Islamic alternatives to that system, said spokesman Mohammad Malkawi. Opinions about Hizb ut-Tahrir varied widely. Outside the hotel, protesters said the organization is simply another terrorist group. - Chicago Sun Times, Muslim group's economic session draws opponents
You have to dig pretty deep into the book of varied reality to classify this event as an economic session. The video accompanying this article is a direct promotional video for the event. If the video alone doesn't convince you of the group's aim then perhaps the reasons other countries have banned the group will.
Compare the Sun Times version of events with that of its sister publication that actually had a reporter at the event.
Yet organizers and speakers at the conference, hosted by Hizb-ut Tahrir America, spoke mostly of capitalism's evils and the need for Muslims to return to the Caliphate, a form of rule based on the Islamic religion.
Capitalism, keynote speaker Abu Talha said, is responsible for much of the world's poverty, hunger and war.
"It is time to deliver the world to Islam, an idea whose time has come," he said.
Still think it was an "economic session?"
The Southtown Star also took note of the intimidation tactics by conference attendees that took pictures of the protesters.
Led by Jeffrey Imm, founder of Responsible for Equality and Liberty (REAL), protesters waved American flags and shouted at arriving conventioneers.
Some attendees aimed digital cameras at the protesters, who aimed their cameras right back.
Even though the Sun Times led the mainstream media by example others have covered the group in the past.
Two months ago the UK Telegraph released a report that explained why the group had been banned in the UK for the past four years.
Dr Imran Waheed, told followers of Hizb ut-Tahrir that there could be "no peace" with Israel and urged them to "fight in the way of Allah".
A leaflet distributed by the international wing of the organisation also called for Muslim countries to "eliminate the state of the Jews".
According to UPI, loyalists of the same group in Pakistan called for a coup a month ago to establish an Islamic caliphate; by force if necessary.
In 2003 the BBC news program Newsnight profiled the group and found that the groups very own website "promotes racism and anti-Semitic hatred, calls suicide bombers martyrs, and urges Muslims to kill Jewish people". (12 minute video footage here - requires Real Player)
Hizb Ut Tahrir aims to bring about a Muslim state, the Khilafah, through, it says, non violent means. The party has expressed support of suicide bombings in Israel. It denounces Western governments and what it sees as their lackey regimes in the Middle East. And Hizb Ut Tahrir is calling on Muslims in Britain to decide whether their loyalty lies with this country or with God.
Yet the Sun Times calls this "varied". Leave it up to reporters like Mary Houlihan of Chicago's liberal publication of record to find a whole new set of contextually misleading characterizations for a convention calling for a return of the caliphate and the downfall of capitalism.
We went to Denmark, where Hizb Ut Tahrir has come to the attention of the police and the courts because of its anti-Semitic views. In March and April 2002, Hizb Ut Tahrir handed out leaflets in a square in Copenhagen, and at a mosque. The leaflet, which also appeared on the Danish groups internet site, makes threats against Jews, using a quote from the Koran urging Muslims to 'kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have been turned you out.' The leaflet also said, 'The Jews are a people of slander...a treacherous people... they fabricate lies and twist words from their right context.' And the leaflet describes suicide bombings in Israel as "legitimate" acts of "Martyrdom".
The absence of mainstream media coverage of a pretty significant Islamic conference promoting the end of Western civilization as it occurred in Barack Obama's back yard appears to be somewhat of a pattern. It is every bit the same as the media's lack of curiosity about a presidential hopefuls days in the pews of a church that espoused much of the same. (Of course we were racist for pointing this out way back then.) We wouldn't expect anything more.
Update: Note that the video shows the conference as being held in Bridgeview. For some unexplained reason the event was moved to Oak Lawn. The YouTube page notes the change of venue.
Terry Trippany is The Watcher at Watcher of Weasels