Protesters Expect Terrorism Plans at Muslim Conference

Spokesman says accusations are "without merit"

About 75 protesters gathered outside the Oak Lawn Hilton on Sunday afternoon to voice their concern about a conference held by the Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir -- a political party whose goal is to combine all Muslim countries in a single Islamic state.

The estimated 800 attending the conference discussed issues related to the global capitalist economic system and Islamic alternatives to that system, said spokesman Mohammad Malkawi.

But, opinions about Hizb ut-Tahrir varied widely. Outside the hotel, protesters said the organization is simply another terrorist group.

"I want to know why the FBI has a terrorist watch list and why this group is not on that list?" asked Richard Gast, 60, of Oak Lawn.

Malkawi responded firmly to questions about the group's beliefs.

"Hizb ut-Tahrir was not born out of a military struggle," Malkawi said. "We have never aligned ourselves with militant groups. The accusations are baseless and without merit."

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