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Calls Force Cancellation Of Chicago Islam Meeting

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ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. (AP)- Phone calls and emails warning of protests have forced a Chicago-area club to cancel a conference this weekend by an Islamic group that is banned in several countries.

The U.S. branch of the international Hizb ut-Tahrir movement still plans to hold a conference in the area on June 17, but is seeking a new venue after The Meadows Club in suburban Rolling Meadows pulled out of the event.

The owner of the club said it was deluged by calls and emails, many of them warning that there would be protests, the Daily Herald in Arlington Heights reported Wednesday.

“Phone lines were starting to get jammed,” Madan Kulkarni said. “With other events scheduled on that day and the possibility of protests, it was not the best position for us to be in. In this kind of economy, we can’t afford any picketing.”

Organizers from Hizb ut-Tahrir America were expecting 1,000 people to attend the event under the title “Revolution: Liberation by Revelation Muslims Marching Toward Victory.”

The worldwide Hizb ut-Tahrir movement says it rejects violence and seeks to unite the Muslim world under a single government following strict Islamic law. The group is banned in several countries, including Pakistan, where it advocates the government’s overthrow.

“The call is not to bring that here to this country or anything of that sort,” said Reza Iman, a Hizb ut-Tahrir America spokesman. “The message is for Muslim countries to return to Islamic values.

“Part of it is just having confidence in Islam as a way of life, and that’s a majority of what our work is, whether we discuss problems that are economic, ideological or social. It’s about how to address these problems from the Islamic viewpoint.”

Critics of the global movement say it’s not too far removed from overtly militant Islamist groups, and that its anti-West preaching paves the way for a radical mindset that eventually leads some members around the world to pick up weapons or tolerate those who do.

Hizb ut-Tahrir America had to cancel its annual conference in 2010 after a suburban Chicago hotel backed out of hosting the event.

The group held conferences in two other Chicago suburbs in 2009 and 2011.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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