Illinois hotel backs out of hosting Muslim group conference

A Muslim group canceled its annual U.S. conference after the Marriott hotel in Oak Brook, a suburb of Chicago, backed out of hosting the event.

American members of Hizb ut-Tahrir planned to hold their annual conference on Sunday, but according to the Chicago Tribune, the hotel sent a cancellation notice and refund to the group organizers about two weeks ago. The one-day event has drawn protesters in the past.

Conference organizer Ayman Hamed says about 1,000 people were expected. He said to the Tribune:

“We’re purely an intellectual political group,” said Hamed, who declined to discuss why he thought the hotel canceled. “We were very open when we approached the Marriott.”

According to Hamed, the group signed a contract with Marriott in May which stated that the hotel wouldn’t cancel unless there was a “catastrophic event or that conference participates were to engage in illegal activity.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir declares itself a political organization and advocates the establishment of an Islamic jurisdiction. While not on the terrorist group list in the U.S., the group is banned in Turkey and several Muslim countries.

Last year, the group held its U.S. conference at a hotel in Oak Lawn, another Chicago suburb. According to the Times, about 800 people attended the open-to-the-public event, titled “Fall of Capitalism and Rise of Islam”, but it was also heavily guarded by police and drew a handful of protesters who alleged the group was tied to terrorism.

Readers: What do you think? Was the hotel right to cancel the conference at the last minute?