Two key figures behind a prominent Islamist extremist group until its ban last week sought to justify the attempted murder of Sir Salman Rushdie to their followers as the writer fought for his life in hospital.
In the aftermath of the brutal stabbing of Sir Salman in the US, Dr Wahid Shaida and Mazhar Khan, who were members of the executive committee of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain both issued online statements pointing out that insulting the prophet Mohammed - who was at the centre of Sir Salman’s work The Satanic Verses - was forbidden in Islam.
Mr Khan was filmed at a Hizb ut-Tahrir demonstration in the wake of the October 7 attacks by Hamas chanting “Jihad! Jihad! Jihad!” in response to another of the group’s prominent members at the time asking the crowd: “What is the solution to liberate people from the concentration camp called Palestine?”
He has separately repeatedly posted apparently anti-Semitic material on an account now removed from X, formerly Twitter, including a claim in October that Imran Khan, the former prime minister of Pakistan, “would have signed a deal to please his ex Jewish wife who is a supporter of the Zionist outpost”.
In response to a video of Israelis running into an airport on Oct 7, the day of the massacre of hundreds of Jews by Hamas, Mr Khan commented: “Jews fleeing back to where they came from”.
The disclosures cast fresh doubt on Hizb ut-Tahrir’s claims, before being proscribed as a terror group last week, that it did not advocate violence or engage in anti-Semitism. This weekend, following the ban, the group’s website has been removed from the internet along with several of its prominent members’ social media profiles.
The ban came months after The Telegraph revealed that prominent members of the group described the massacre of Israelis as “good news” and “egg on the face” of the Jewish state. Tom Tugendhat, the security minister, said the proscription of Hizb ut-Tahrir was “a justified response to calls for violence and disorder”.
But its former members have pledged to fight the ban in the courts, insisting that they did not advocate violence and are not anti-Semitic.
Dr Shaida is a GP at a surgery in Harrow, north London, who chaired Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain using the name Abdul Wahid.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page on Aug 12 2022, the day Sir Salman was stabbed more than a dozen times at a US book festival, Dr Shaida said of the prophet Mohammed: “The extent of the love of Muslims worldwide for Messenger of Allah cannot be explained or quantified ... I doubt you will find anyone who loves him feeling sympathy for someone who insulted him.”
The statement added: “Those Muslims who have come out and condemned the attack are presumably motivated by the many Pillars of Secularism, that they are forced to adopt to have acceptability in liberal societies.”
Mr Khan shared Dr Shaida’s statement on his own Facebook page together with the slogan “Our prophet, our honour”.
Hizb ut-Tahrir also posted a video on YouTube on Aug 13 2022, in which Mr Khan addressed the stabbing of Sir Salman the previous day. He said: “Insulting the Prophet is never something that the Muslim will ever tolerate, it is non-negotiable.
So, this is something that Muslims around the world will always defend, the honour of the prophet, his family, and his companions.”
A third prominent member of the group before it was banned last week is reported to have said of the attack on Rushdie: “We should feel zero pity for anyone who spent a lifetime mocking and insulting the prophets of Allah.”
Dr Shaida’s GP practice
The literal meaning of “jihad” is “struggle” or “effort” but it can be used to refer to holy war. The Met was criticised by ministers for saying no offences had been committed when the word was chanted by Mr Khan in October. At the time Scotland Yard said: “The word jihad has a number of meanings.”
A spokesman for NHS London, whose officials were “actively engaging” with Dr Shaida’s GP practice last year, said: “We take any issues relating to professional conduct seriously and have procedures in place to make sure that individuals are fit to work in the NHS. In response to the government’s decision to proscribe Hizb ut-Tahrir as a terrorist organisation we are ensuring our processes are followed. We are not able to comment further on any individual case at this stage.”
Dr Wahid Shaida and Mazhar Khan were contacted for comment.