Warning over Muslim call not to vote

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Shahid Mursaleen of Minhaj-ul-Quran, a growing progressive movement in the UK, said Hizb Ut-Tahrir was being unislamic and that the national organisation was among those telling Muslims to choose the candidate they believed would best serve their constituency.

A member of the West Midlands Faith Forum has warned Muslims against flyers distributed outside mosques after Friday prayers urging them not to vote. Leaflets produced by Hizb-Ut-Tahrir, Britain, (HT) state that it is "haram" or forbidden for Muslims to vote in the UK parliamentary elections in May.

But Qamar Bhatti, of the Faith Forum, said HT did not represent most Muslims. He said he was speaking as an individual and the Forum was not associated with his campaign. He said British Muslims had a duty to vote in the society which protected Muslim rights. Mr Bhatti said HT had indicated flyers would be distributed outside the main mosques in Belgrave Road, Birmingham; Cheetham Hill, Manchester and Regent Street, London, in the weeks running up to the elections on 6 May. HT claims to be a global, non-violent, Islamic political party and said Muslims should not participate in British secular politics. It says voting parties in Britain's secular system would "be an endorsement of policies that clearly contradict Islam". Mr Bhatti, from the West Midlands Faith Forum, said: "For the majority of the Muslim community HT is very unrepresentative of their views. "We have a social contract with the society we live in and where the society gives us all the protections to carry out our wishes as Muslims, we are required to be model citizens. "That doesn't just mean paying taxes, but also participating in elections, being candidates and being involved in the political process." Tahir Alam, advisor for the Muslim Council of Britain, which represents more than 500 Islamic organisations in Britain, said: "Voting in the elections is not forbidden. "We do not consider it haram. We are part of this country and we think it is essential that Muslims turn out to vote in great numbers if we are going to make a difference to the political landscape." Shahid Mursaleen of Minhaj-ul-Quran, a growing progressive movement in the UK, said Hizb Ut-Tahrir was being unislamic and that the national organisation was among those telling Muslims to choose the candidate they believed would best serve their constituency.