Western media outlets tend to mirror their respective government’s positions when debating a possible ban on HT. Both Reuters and the Associated Press have covered some HT activity, including a November 2012 incident in which Russian authorities charged nine HT members with plotting terrorist attacks.Thomas Grove, “Russia charges nine with membership of banned Islamist group,” Reuters, November 16, 2012, http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/16/russia-islam-charged-idUSL5E8MG1TP20121116; “Russia charges 9 Islamic radicals with terrorism,” Associated Press, November 16, 2012, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/russia-charges-9-islamic-radicals-terrorism. Over the years, the New York Times has provided more extensive coverage of the group’s global activities. In its coverage, the Times has frequently depicted the group as a radical Islamist organization.
In early June 2005, Uzbek President Islam A. Karimov blamed HT for instigating an uprising in the city of Andijon. HT denied involvement.C.J. Chivers, “Israel Evacuates Staff From Uzbekistan as Instability Worsens,” New York Times, June 4, 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/04/world/asia/israel-evacuates-staff-from-uzbekistan-as-instability-worsens.html. In its coverage, the New York Times repeated various Uzbek government accusations, typically referring to HT as a group seeking “to create governments ruled by its view of Islamic tradition.”C.J. Chivers, “Israel Evacuates Staff From Uzbekistan as Instability Worsens,” New York Times, June 4, 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/04/world/asia/israel-evacuates-staff-from-uzbekistan-as-instability-worsens.html. In May 2006, the Times reiterated German allegations of HT’s involvement in a failed bomb plot aboard German trains involving two Lebanese men.Mark Landler and Souad Mekhennet, “Wider Network May Be Linked to Bomb Plot, Germans Say,” New York Times, August 23, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/23/world/europe/23german.html.
The New York Times has also covered links between HT and the jihadist foreign fighter phenomenon in Iraq and Syria. In a March 2015 piece, NYT cited renowned counter extremist activist Maajid Nawaz, who recalled his own radicalization and membership in HT.Maajid Nawaz, “The Education of ‘Jihadi John,’” New York Times, March 3, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/03/opinion/the-education-of-jihadi-john.html. Author and journalist Mary Anne Weaver explored Britain’s foreign fighter phenomenon and campus radicalization in an April 2015 piece for the Times.Mary Anne Weaver, “Her Majesty’s Jihadists,” New York Times, April 14, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/19/magazine/her-majestys-jihadists.html.
New York Times columnists have also debated whether HT’s activities fall within the limits of free speech or constitute a wider threat. Richard Bernstein questioned whether Germany banned HT because of the country’s embarrassment over the discovery of a Hamburg cell that aided the 9/11 hijackers,Richard Bernstein, “THE WORLD; What Is Free Speech, And What Is Terrorism?,” New York Times, August 14, 2005, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A03E0D6153EF937A2575BC0A9639C8B63. though the more common explanation is that HT’s anti-Semitic literature ran afoul of Germany’s hate-speech laws.Acacia Shields, Creating Enemies of the State: Religious Persecution in Uzbekistan (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2004), 51, http://www.worldcat.org/title/creating-enemies-of-the-state-religious-persecution-in-uzbekistan/oclc/249317228.
None of the above outlets provided coverage of HT’s activities within the United States.
Of the three outlets, only Reuters provided original coverage of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s February 2015 announcement that his government may ban HT.Matt Siegel, “Australian PM Abbott announces fresh security crackdown,” Reuters, February 23, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/23/us-australia-security-idUSKBN0LR03H20150223. British and Australian media outlets have provided a platform for debate on the possible policy change.
While HT calls for replacing existing regimes in Muslim countries with an Islamic caliphate, the Guardian’s senior reporter, Sandra Laville, noted in 2005 that HT maintains that it is dedicated to non-violence.Sandra Laville, “Banned groups with roots in the UK appeal to disaffected Muslim youth,” Guardian (London), August 5, 2005, http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2005/aug/06/uk.terrorism3. The Guardian has also given a voice to HT in the debate. Uthman Badar, HT’s spokesman in Australia, argued in a February 2015 Guardian op-ed that numerous Australians investigations into HT have yielded nothing incriminating. He defended HT as a “political activist group that adopts exclusively intellectual and political means to propagate its ideas, which oppose unjust domestic and foreign policies that target Islam and Muslims.”Uthman Badar, “Hizb ut-Tahrir: is it an offence to oppose government policy? If so, let it be plainly said,” Guardian (London), February 22, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/23/hizb-ut-tahrir-is-it-now-an-offence-to-oppose-government-policy-if-so-let-it-be-said-plainly.