Archive for September 7th, 2011

EDL: a victory for the IFE

Could the EDL prove to be as hopelessly hapless as it is vile? I wrote here that by turning up they handed  Mayor Lutfur Rahman a political victory and now his allies in the Islamic Forum of Europe are cashing in.

The East London Advertiser reports:

Hundreds of Muslim youths could be trained as stewards after success of anti EDL protest

By Nadia Sam-Daliri 
Wednesday, September 7, 2011 
9:58 AM

Hundreds of Muslim youths could be trained to steward volatile events following the good work of a peace-keeping team deployed on Saturday.

About 300 volunteers – most of them aged 18 to 25 – patrolled the streets around Whitechapel dispersing large groups of youths to prevent trouble breaking out over the English Defence League demonstration at Aldgate.

Volunteers and youth workers played a “vital role” in keeping young people calm, police said.

A Met spokeswoman added: “The stewards who worked on Saturday were well trained and effective.”

Wearing high visibility jackets, the stewards were joined by an extra 500 informal volunteers, meaning their numbers were not far from rivalling the 1,000 or so far right activists being held on the borders of Tower Hamlets by police.

While there were scuffles and arrests in the EDL camp, little trouble was reported in the areas around Aldgate East where a 1,500-strong crowd had gathered for a counter protest.

The London Muslim Centre and Islamic Forum of Europe, which jointly trained the volunteers, now wants to build up a bigger taskforce.

Dilowar Khan, LMC’s executive director, said: “We need to continue to strengthen our unity because the EDL issue is not going to go away.We need more trained stewards – the more we have the better.”

Stewards even stepped in and helped a female EDL member who fell out of the rogue coach that made its way through Whitechapel.

The woman was assaulted by a passerby after scuffles broke out close to the East London Mosque.

Azad Ali, IFE’s head of community engagement, said: “The volunteers escorted her back to where her coach was. They clearly have ideological differences but these Muslims were willing to protect EDL members from harm.”

Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman said: “If they weren’t there working with police things could have erupted.”

The teams met several times in the run-up to the static demonstrations and agreed tactics with officers.

Stewards are not a new thing at the mosque and LMC.

Many were provided in the anti war demonstrations against the Iraq conflict in 2003.

I congratulated the stewards in my last post but I fail to see the need for a mini-army of marshalls patrolling the East London Mosque. Are the IFE and the mosque hyping up the threat?

The EDL has given the IFE a golden recruiting tool to use on the large numbers of bored Tower Hamlets youths. “Come and join us, help protect the community from these Nazis, we’ll give you a purpose,” seems to be the message.

No doubt the next steps will be: “Hey, we’re training all these people, we’re providing all these hi-vis jackets, can’t you see we need some funding… .”

Let’s keep an eye on those grant applications.

(Photo by Fokrul Hoque.)

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