British MP Harriet Harman got quite the surprise last week when members of Hizb ut-Tahrir came for a visit, taking advantage of Harman’s open-door office policy. The representatives of the violent Muslim group were there to complain about the British government’s efforts to outlaw their organization, in a story recounted by Nick Cohen in the Observer:
A few weeks ago, Harriet Harman was holding a surgery for her Peckham constituents. As always, it was an open house, and every variety of south Londoner was coming to her office. She had dealt with the usual run of complaints and appeals when the door opened and for the first time in her life Harman confronted authentic anti-democrats.
If she had been less startled, she might have seen the funny side. The members of Hizb ut-Tahrir hated democracy and all that went with it – secularism, the separation of church and state, the emancipation of women. It’s not just that they would establish a dictatorship if they came to power, the successor parties to the communists and the fascists would do that. The Islamists regarded it as sinful to stand in elections or even vote.
Yet here were totalitarians and misogynists going to a woman democratic politician and begging her to persuade Tony Blair not to take authoritarian measures against their authoritarian sect. The scene could have been bettered only if Harman had been a Jewish lesbian.
In fact, she is a courteous and patient politician. She listened politely to what they had to say and the more she heard the more despairing she became. As they were leaving, she said, ‘you’re British citizens. Shouldn’t you try to play a part in British society?’
‘We’re not a part of British society,’ they told her. ‘We stay here like guests in a hotel.’