OAK BROOK MARIOTT Hotel cancels Islamic terror-linked organization's conference

Hizb ut-Tahrir, a Muslim group committed to establishing an international Islamic empire and reportedly linked to Al Qaeda has been bounced from the Marriott in Oak Brook, where organizers were set to host the group’s second annual conference this Sunday.

Critics believe the conference, dedicated to reviving the prevailing system of rule that immediately followed the death of the Prophet Muhammad, is an effort to turn American Muslims against the U.S. government.

“We’re not attacking or bringing anybody down or humiliating,” said Ayman Hamed, a conference organizer who lives in Chicago Ridge. “It’s just not about that. We’re talking about Islam the way it should be understood.”

But a Washington-based interest group called Responsible for Equality and Liberty, or REAL, said that although Hizb ut-Tahrir explicitly condemns violence, its ideology suggests otherwise. Speakers at previous conferences have denounced democracy and condoned the death penalty for people who leave Islam, said the interest group’s founder, Jeffrey Imm. He said he contacted the Marriott corporation last month when he saw the conference on the Oak Brook hotel’s calendar.

“I wanted to educate (the Marriott) about (Hizb ut-Tahrir’s) anti-democracy position,” Imm said. “I wanted them to be aware of who they are so they could have the appropriate security. These hotels have a right to know when there are groups that have been involved with or threaten violence against other people.”

Hamed said the group signed a contract with the hotel in mid-May that explicitly stated the hotel could not cancel unless there was a catastrophic event or it was discovered that conference participants would engage in illegal or criminal activity. A month later, Hamed said he received an e-mail telling him the conference could not be held at the hotel. He later received a letter and refund check in the mail, he said.

Hamed acknowledges the group’s message could be controversial. Founded in 1953 by a Palestinian judge, Hizb ut-Tahrir calls for an end to Israel and an end to Western intervention in the Middle East.

He argues that the group’s intentions are widely misunderstood. The group has no interest in overthrowing the U.S. government, he said. In fact, Hizb ut-Tahrir is banned in some Western countries as well as Muslim countries because those are the very governments they want to replace with an Islamic republic or caliphate, the first system of governance established in Islam. Chicago Tribune