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One of the features of Lutfur Rahman’s divisive administration has been the readiness of his low-grade lieutenants to chuck around the word ‘racist’. I’ve documented this far too many times on this blog to list them again now.

It’s also been clear the past few months that this would be their strategy in the lead up to May’s mayoral election. And having grown up in the swamp, they know that mud can stick.

They’ll probably find some way to label me racist for even saying that, but I’m not.

You see, my wife and her family sometimes call themselves Bangladeshis; more frequently it’ll be Bengalis. All the time, of course, they also say they’re British. And at other times, when they’re describing someone who’s white, they’ll say they’re ‘English’.

All terms of common parlance. And they’re the most lovely, open-minded family I know (and yes, I would say that, but it’s true.)

Unlike the dimwitted muck-rakers who pretend they’re campaigning for a One Tower Hamlets, ie Lutfur’s Tower Hamlets First crew.

Lutfur was always described to me by those who knew him better as an empty vessel. It seems that vessel now poureth over with poison.

How so?

See this press release from Lutfur’s campaign manager Cllr Alibor Choudhury.

John Biggs: Dividing the East End

Labour Mayoral hopeful reported to Equalities and Human Rights Commission over inflammatory and divisive comments

Pressure was today mounting on Tower Hamlets Labour Mayoral hopeful John Biggs after he was referred to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission for remarks made on the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme

The complaint, by Cllr. Alibor Choudhury of Tower Hamlets First, refers to a statement made by Biggs on 22 September 2013.

Attempting to refute claims of institutional racism in the Labour Party, Mr Biggs said: “All of the Mayor’s Cabinet are Bangladeshi and his primary policy focus has been the concerns of one community, the Bangladeshi community.”

Cllr. Choudhury said: “First off, the makeup of the Mayor’s cabinet is a result of Labour’s policy of non-cooperation. Secondly, John might want to think of me as a foreigner, but I was born here and am as British as he is. Thirdly, policies like free homecare, bringing back EMA and building the most affordable homes in the UK benefit everyone. John’s remarks are untrue and inflammatory and are doing lasting damage to community cohesion in the East End.”

The comments reported to the Commission are the latest in a long line of racially charged comments by the Labour Mayoral hopeful. In 1998, he campaigned against the creation of Banglatown and in 2013 his dog-whistle claims on housing were picked up and gleefully used as propaganda by the EDL who marched on the borough just a couple of months later. More recently, one of his Labour colleagues accused him of having a problem with outspoken Bangladeshis.

Cllr. Choudhury added: “Biggs’ slogan is ‘Uniting the East End’ but with far-right ‘patrols’ on our streets and bomb threats to the Town Hall and East London Mosque, his remarks are doing the opposite. Residents have tried to get him to explain his comments and have been ignored, so there’s no other option but to report him to the EHRC.”

Very kindly, Alibor also sent us the letter he’s written to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

Dear Commissioners,

I have been an elected councillor in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets since 2006, and currently serve as the council’s Cabinet Member for Resources, serving alongside the directly-elected mayor, Lutfur Rahman.

I’m proud that in Lutfur, Tower Hamlets has elected Britain’s, and Europe’s, first BAME directly-elected mayor. He is standing for re-election this coming May. Sadly, however, the local Labour Party, who are currently in opposition on the council, appear to be centring their campaign to unseat Lutfur on racial grounds.

Appearing on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show on 22 September 2013, the Labour mayoral candidate said, “all of the mayor’s cabinet are Bangladeshi and primary policy focus has been the concerns of one community, the Bangladeshi community.”

This is worrying on a number of levels. First, I am one of those cabinet members. I may be ethnic-Bangladeshi but I was born and brought up in Britain, I have always lived here, and I am as British as Mr Biggs is.

Second, there is a clear appeal to racial prejudice, which is deeply irresponsible, particularly given the backdrop of tensions around the EDL march that had taken place weeks before the programme, and constant negative press coverage around the local Bangladeshi community and Muslims.

On 25 September, three days after the broadcast, the East London Mosque was the subject of a bomb threat and police were called. On 26 September, a suspicious package arrived at the Town Hall. It is very possible that these sinister incidents were the work of extremists whipped up by Mr Biggs’s outburst.

Even if there is no direct link, Mr Biggs should know that his position as a London Assembly member gives him a prominent and influential public platform and that as such, he should choose his words responsibly.

Third, that there are no white members of the mayor’s cabinet is not of his own choosing. When Lutfur stood as an independent candidate following the Labour Party’s suspension of his candidacy – on the basis of allegations that were never put to him and later proved to be false – a large number of Labour councillors supported him. Those who were ethnic-Bengali were expelled from the Labour Party, whereas those who were not were permitted to remain.

On winning the mayoral election, Lutfur wrote to all Labour councillors – white and non-white – inviting them to apply for cabinet positions. But Mr Biggs’s party colleagues ordered all Labour councillors to refuse the offer or be expelled from the Labour Party. This is the reason why there are no non BAME cabinet members.

Apart from anything else, I was hoping that Mr Biggs would have something more constructive to observe about me and my fellow cabinet members, rather than crass complaints about the colour of our skin.

I truly believe that the reason for such messaging is that the Labour Party feels it has lost the ethnic minority vote to Lutfur and therefore needs to appeal to a section of the electorate who resent Bangladeshis and Muslims’ involvement in local democracy and civil society, and who do not normally vote.

Such sentiments are fuelled by hysterical newspaper articles branding this multicultural borough ‘Taliban Tower Hamlets’ and ‘Sharia Zone’, and of course the false allegations famously made by Labour Party figures that Lutfur had been ‘brainwashed by Islamic fundamentalists’.

It would not be the first time such a strategy has been adopted: you will be all too familiar with Phil Woolas MP’s racial smears against the Liberal Democrats after he lost much of his ethnic-minority support base to that party following the Iraq war.

I trust that you will share my grave concern over these deeply unappetising and irresponsible election tactics. I write to you now because my analysis of the opposition’s approach has been reaffirmed by further developments in recent days, which have seen a Far-Right racist party, British First, mount intimidating vigilante patrols outside the East London Mosque, a serving opposition councillor accuse his party leaders and Mr Biggs of racial prejudice, and the party’s election organiser telling the public that the way to remove the mayor from office is to get more non-Bangladeshis to vote. I am happy to release the evidence of these incidents to you as you require.

My foremost concern is the community cohesion in this borough. Its sure destruction should not be a price any legitimate party is willing to pay in return for winning an election.

I very much hope that you will look into this situation carefully, and I look forward to a prompt and thorough response.

Yours sincerely,

Councillor Alibor Choudhury

Cabinet Member for Resources
Shadwell Ward

CC: The Labour Party National Executive Committee Chair Angela Eagle
The Labour Party BAME National Executive Committee Chair Kamaljeet Jandu
Greater London Authority Monitoring Officer

Well, this is a bit thick really. And remember, Alibor is the cabinet member for finance. And not only does he in private call himself Bengali/Bangladeshi (he has to me many times and never British Bangladeshi, because that goes without saying), but he also signs off grants galore for groups whose names suggest Bangladeshi-only.

Only last week, for example, he and the Mayor handed out a ‘Third Sector Award’ to the Bangladesh Football Association, which has also received tens of thousands of pounds in council funding under Lutfur and Alibor.

The Bangladeshi Youth Movement, seen in this document here, also received grants aplenty. There are many other examples.

Hey, and what’s this we see in the Tower Hamlets Strategic Plan for 2013/14, authored by the Mayor himself: an action point for the Deputy Mayor, Ohid Ahmed…”Implement action plan for improving drug and alcohol treatment recovery rates across the borough, including for younger adults, Bangladeshi women, people with disabilities and LGBT residents. (March 2014)

Well, perhaps Alibor has referred himself to the EHRC.

As for suggesting John Biggs has somehow sinisterly prompted bombs to arrive in Tower Hamlets…well, Alibor is no stranger to violence. Perhaps it’s time he can explain how he got that six inch scar on his neck.

Every time I’ve asked John Biggs about Alibor’s past experiences with the gang-ridden Ocean estate, John has always declined to say anything. You see, Alibor was once John’s protege: John mentored him onto a straighter path and helped him see the potential power of politics as a force for good.

Perhaps he’s forgotten those lessons.

Actually, I think he needs a bit of love, a nice big cuddle. When you see him knocking on your door next, give him a squeeze.

Alibor

In the meantime, here’s John Biggs’s response:

Lutfur Rahman’s smears are an insult to true victims of racism

Labour have today responded to a disgraceful press release which was issued by Lutfur Rahman supporter Cllr Alibor Choudhury unfoundedly accusing Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets of racism. The press release made sweeping and baseless accusations and stoking racial fear amongst voters.

At the same time another Rahman supporting councillor took to twitter falsely claiming that if elected John Biggs planned to use his powers to scrap the “Banglatown” ward name which is a point of significant pride in the Bangladeshi community. Cllr Choudhury was also promoting his statement on Facebook openly referring to John Biggs as John Bigot.

The attack was described by Labour as a “desperate tactic” and said that “baseless cries of racism for political gain are an insult to anyone who has actually suffered true racial abuse.”

Labour drew attention to positive nature of Biggs’ campaign including the cross community support it enjoys. They highlighted that whilst Rahman’s supporters were intent on spreading baseless smears and character attacks Biggs was focused on speaking with local people and announcing policies which will help all residents such as free school meals for all primary school pupils. Over the last two weeks Labour councillors and John Biggs have announced a multitude of policies including:

– Free school meals for all primary school children
– A 24h out of hours noise service at weekends
– Working towards building 1,000 new council homes after the current administration built only 15.
– New measures to tackle drug dealing on estates
– Creating a new private lettings agency to cut out rip off charges for private renters
– Bringing the popular borough fireworks display back to Victoria Park

Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam, said: “Let’s be clear about this, John Biggs is no racist. John Biggs has devoted his life to serving all the people of East London. This vicious character attack is nothing more than a desperate tactic from a party who know they are losing the battle of ideas.

“Whilst John Biggs is pledging to provide free school meals for all the borough’s primary school children, all Lutfur Rahman and his supporters can do is cry wolf. Their shameful and baseless cries of racism for political gain are an insult to anyone who has actually suffered true racial abuse.”

John Biggs, Labour candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets said: “I am extremely disappointed by this misleading, divisive, and inflammatory outburst from supporters of the current Mayor. I’m going to run the type of campaign Tower Hamlets deserves – one about ideas for how to make life in our borough better.”

In a joint statement MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, Rushanara Ali, MP and MP for Poplar and Limehouse Jim Fitzpatrick MP said: “We are utterly appalled by this behaviour. Tower Hamlets is, and deserves, better than these bullyboy politicians who resort to lies and character attacks. Labour have been clear from day one that we want this election to be about uniting Tower Hamlets, the policies that will improve peoples lives and the best person to serve all communities. Instead with over two months to go Lutfur Rahman is resorting to baseless, divisive smears and attacks.

“If Lutfur Rahman thinks Labour is standing against him because of his race then he needs to get real. The reason John Biggs is standing is because he passionately believes in uniting all communities in Tower Hamlets and with a strong unified Labour team he can bring the change the borough needs. The current Mayor just isn’t up to the job and is clearly more interested in his own self-promotion and wasting public money than helping the people of Tower Hamlets who will see through these inflammatory accusations for what they are: a desperate attempt to divide based on the politics of fear.”

“For over 30 John Biggs has worked tirelessly, fighting the fascist BNP and EDL and uniting communities across the borough. The diversity that runs through our party is represented by the fantastic slate of council candidates that will be standing side by side with John, as we will be, throughout the campaign and onward.”

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This is what you might call a holding post because I’m sure many more considered words and analysis will be filed by others on this subject.

This is from the Official Website of Chowdhury Mueen Uddin:

Chowdhury Mueen Uddin was Director of Muslim Spiritual Care Provision in the NHS. Since 2005, he has been advising healthcare providers on how best to provide patients spiritual care at times of need. In this capacity, he currently chairs the Multi-Faith Group for Healthcare Chaplaincy.

 He served on the Board of a number of distinguished charities. These include, among others, Board member Labo Housing Association and Gateway Housing Association; Past board member and vice chairman – As-Shahada Housing Association; Chairman and board member – Muslim Aid; Vice Chairman – East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre).

He served as the Secretary General of the Council of Mosques UK and Eire for 2 terms (1984 – 1988) and was involved – along with many others – in setting up the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).

He was formerly Deputy Director of the Islamic Foundation, Markfield, Leicestershire (1995 – 2005) and, prior to that, worked for a leading Housing Association in London.

Chowdhury Mueen Uddin is married and lives in London. He was born in Bangladesh and read Literature at the University of Dhaka. He began his career as a journalist, filing moving accounts of the Great 1970 Cyclone and interviewing the burgeoning independence leader of that country, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

And today the BBC reports this about him:

A UK Muslim leader and a US citizen have been sentenced to death over crimes committed during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence.

UK-Bangladeshi Muslim community leader Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khanwas were being tried in absentia by a special tribunal in Bangladesh.

They were found guilty on 11 charges relating to the abduction and killing of 18 independence supporters.

Verdicts in similar cases have sparked violent reactions in Bangladesh.

The proceedings of the International Crimes Tribunal have come under criticism from several rights groups, including the New York-based Human Rights Watch, which has described the trials as flawed.

The online news service BD24 has more detail:

Al Badr leaders Ashrafuzzaman Khan and Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin have been sentenced to death for killing top Bengali intellectuals in the last days of the 1971 Liberation War.

The two have been found guilty of torture and murder of 18 intellectuals including nine Dhaka University teachers, six journalists and three doctors during the war.

Justice Obaidul Hassan-led International Crimes Tribunal-2 said the prosecution had proven all the 11 charges against the two ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.

The ICT-2 Chairman started the proceedings with his initial remarks at around 11am.

A total 41 pages of the 154-page verdict were read out.

Justice Shahinur Islam read out the first part of the 41-page summary verdict and Justice Mujibur Rahman Mia read the second part.

Justice Mia said the involvement of Ashrafuzzman and Mueen-Uddin with the killings of 18 intellectuals had been proven conclusively.

At times, they carried out the murders, sometimes they instigated and encouraged them, said the judge.

The two had complete control over the Al Badr during the Liberation War, said the verdict.

The tribunal in its verdict said Ashrafuzzaman and Mueen-Uddin will be ‘hanged until death’ for their war-time atrocities.

Other two judges — Justice Md Mujibur Rahman Mia and Judge Shahinur Islam — read out parts of the verdict.

Sunday’s verdict described how the former leaders of the Islami Chhatra Sangha, Jamaat’s student affiliate in 1971, had abducted and killed the intellectuals between Dec 11 and Dec 15 in 1971.

Ashrafuzzaman was the ‘chief planner’ and Mueen-Uddin was the ‘operation in-charge’ of the massacre.

A diary recovered from Ashrafuzzaman’s Nakhalparha residence in Dhaka after independence contained the plan for the massacre and a list of targets.

Freedom fighters waiting outside the court and the Ganajagaran Mancha supporters hailed the sentence.

 Hundreds turned out on the streets in Gopalganj and Feni — home districts of the two convicts — to celebrate the verdict.

They demanded its swift execution.

 The prosecution also expressed satisfaction.

It is the ninth verdict of the ongoing war crimes trials involving the two tribunals.

So far, six former and current Jamaat leaders and two BNP leaders have been convicted.

Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin was born in November, 1948 at Chanpur in Feni’s Dagonbhuiyan to Delowar Hossain.

He was a student of Bangla department at Dhaka University during the Liberation War and worked as a staff correspondent of Dainik Purbadesh.

According to case details, Mueen-Uddin was a central leader of Jamaat’s student front and member of the notorious militia outfit Al Badr.

He was given ‘important’ position in Al Badr and he spearheaded the execution of the Bengali intelligentsia towards the end of the Liberation War.

Mueen-Uddin’s family, too, had come out strongly in support of Pakistan, according to the prosecution.

He fled to Pakistan and to the UK from there, after Bangladesh gained independence. He has been residing in London since.

Apart from discharging important duties of Jamaat-affiliated ‘Dawatul Islam’ in London, he is also the executive editor of weekly Dawat.

He is one of the directors of National Health Services, a trustee of the Muslim Aid and chairman of Tottenham mosque’s executive committee.

On his website, the former Al Badr leader has admitted to his war-time role for a ‘unified Pakistan’.

In an interview to Al-Jazeera’s Jonah Hull for the program ‘Talk to Al-jazeera’ in July, he said the tribunal was a ‘joke’.

For the record, Mueen-Uddin, whom I met on the doorstep of his north London home in 2008, a couple of hours before I was sent a threatening legal letter by libel lawyers Carter Ruck, strongly denies the charges.

(And there’s not a cat in hell’s chance of him being extradited, largely due to Bangladesh’s use of the death penalty, but also because of serious concerns over the way these tribunals were conducted. If the Bangladesh National Party/Jamaat e Islami alliance win back power in the New Year, as many expect, these verdicts will be quashed anyway.)

Although he lives in Enfield, he has very strong links to Tower Hamlets, and not just through his work with the East London Mosque, the London Muslim Centre and the Royal London Hospital.

Note the name Dawatul Islam in the article above. He founded it.

It has received well in excess of £100,000–perhaps way more–over the years, both from Labour dominated Grants Panels and more recently from Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s vote buying fund grant pot.

As recently as August, Lutfur announced another £40,000 for it for a “Girl’s Talk” project. It’s aimed at preventing girls getting involved in gangs, which is kind of ironic given the history of some of Lutfur’s chief supporters..

The detail is here.

Just saying…

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He is a reader of this blog (I’m told), so I don’t know if it was my last post on Lutfur’s declaration of love for the Islamic Forum of Europe that prompted today’s decision, but the EDL’s Tommy Robinson claims he’s had enough.

Thanks to a tip from the Quilliam Foundation, I broke the story on Twitter this morning then on the Express website a bit later. The full piece is here.

It includes some interesting comments from the Reverend Alan Green, the rector at St John on Bethnal Green and the chair of the Tower Hamlets Interfaith Forum.

alan_green_edl_tower_hamlets

Alan is one of the main organisers of the anti-EDL rallies in the borough. I asked him for his thoughts on Tommy Robinson’s decision and whether he (and the East London Mosque through the faith forum) would be prepared to meet him.

Here’s the extract from the Express piece:

The Reverend Alan Green chairs the Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum, which has been at the forefront of organising protests against the EDL’s marches in the borough.

Its members include the East London Mosque, which has been a main target in Robinson’s speeches.

Mr Green said today that while he welcomed Robinson’s decision he wanted to know more about “what is going on”.

He said: “On the face of it, it seems a real victory for places like Tower Hamlets for the way we have represented our diverse communities in the face of what amounted to extremism with a covering of respectability.

“If that extremism has now been stripped away, then that’s a really good victory for us.

“He now needs to show he is clearly separating himself from not only the violence of the extreme members of the EDL but also from the level of rhetoric that he himself has espoused.

“If he is learning that you can’t just accuse all Muslims of the extremism that he has accused them of, then that’s a real step forward.

“It’s not just bout physical violence, it’s about physical abuse as well.

Asked if he and the East London Mosque would meet Robinson as part of the Inter Faith Forum, he said: “There could be a time when we could do that, but I would want to see far more progress from him than just the statement today.

“As a Christian minister, I’m always happy to meet anyone but I would not want to fragment the unity we have here in Tower Hamlets, so we’d need to see further steps first.”

 With some justification, Mayor Lutfur Rahman can rightly say he has helped defeat the EDL. He’s led well in this regard, especially from a political perspective.

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Tower Hamlets has a brand new political party to vote for.

Lucky us. It’s called Tower Hamlets First.

electoral commission
As opposed to Tower Hamlets Last, which is the usual strategy of the people behind this new venture….the dear Mayor of Tower Hamlets and his group.

It was registered with the Electoral Commission on September 19, with Lutfur Rahman as party leader (missed that party election vote), and Cllr Alibor Choudhury nominated as Treasurer and nominating officer.

They’ve also registered a few catchy tag lines to use alongside Tower Hamlets First.

Thus we have ‘Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s Team’, ‘Lutfur Rahman’s Team’, Lutfur Rahman’s Progressive Alliance’, ‘The Mayor’s Team’, “Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s Independents’, ‘Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s Community Alliance’ [note the use of the word ‘community’], and ‘East End Independents’.

I’m not sure he’ll be able to use the word Mayor in any official tag line during an election, but let’s see.

But what’s also interesting about this is that he’s now on an official footing as as far as declaring donations go. Until now, there’s been no trace of how he’s been funded, or who his backers have been.

For example, I asked his people who funded his huge iftar party to celebrate Eid in August, but answer there came none. Ditto the various leaflets and newsletters he sends out en masse.

I suppose the truth is that ever since he was elected that dark night in October 2010, he’s been gearing up for re-election. And why not?

We’ve already seen his (ab)use of the Localism Act to dish out grants to friends at the borough’s many mosques and monocultural community groups. Today, another £242,000  was handed out. It includes another £18,000 to the Osmani Trust.

The Osmani Trust is a major “youth” organisation in Whitechapel with links to the IFE. And it was a large group of mainly excitable young men from that organisation who turned up at the town hall for the last full council meeting in September when they spent the evening whooping, hollering and hurling insults in Bengali at Labour and Tory councillors.

That was also the same evening Tory councillor Gloria Thienel was insulted as “Susan Boyle” by an angry, glaring man sitting next to me.

And it was also the same meeting that at long last the cameras were allowed to roll during the debate.

You can watch it all for free here. At 50 minutes in you can even watch the single time the Mayor spoke throughout the entire three hour meeting.

Momentously forgettable.

Lutfur

But was memorable was the laying on the table of Lutfur’s IFE card. (The Islamic Forum of Europe is based at the East London Mosque and is considered a Jamaat e Islami group which favours an Islamic Republic of Bangladesh. It was this group which was the focus of the Channel 4 Dispatches programme in 2010 when accusations were made by Jim Fitzpatrick and others – I appeared in to substantiate claims made to me to this effectby serving councillors – that they had infiltrated the council and the Labour party. Ultimately these claims led Lutfur’s expulsion from Labour.)

At 1hr 25mins in, you’ll see during a motion on the recent trip to the Tower Hamlets border by the English Defence League, Lutfur’s main man Alibor rise to speak.

Alibor

He proposes an amendment to the main motion, thus:

I propose that we accept the IFE as a progressive organisation that we will aim to engage.

Well, Labour weren’t expecting that.

Deputy Mayor Ohid Ahmed then spoke:

We praise the East London Mosque stewards and we know that their organisation is the IFE.

Labour’s Rachael Saunders is a little taken aback. She can see the elephant-trap, so she says she has “no idea whether the IFE is progressive” (when she clearly believes they’re not).

Lutfurite Kabir Ahmed adds his tuppence, saying “it’s important that we thank the IFE”. He then blames Jim Fitzpatrick for portraying them as anti-Tower Hamlets Islamists. He adds:

The EDL have picked up on this and they repeatedly reference it so it’s important to state such messages were incorrect and the council hasn’t been taken over and infiltrated.

Hmm. Let’s rewind.

In 2009, I interviewed Habibur Rahman, the then president of the IFE. He confirmed Alibor was an IFE member/activist.

But Alibor failed to mention or declare that when setting out his amendment. You see, the IFE already have a man at the top of the council. We now have conformation that Dispatches and JIm were right. thanks, guys.

And then at 1hour 35mins, the wonderfully colourful Lutfa Begum (another Lutfurite) jumps out of her seat to give us more revelations:

IFE do lots of jobs for Tower Hamlets local people. They are working with local GPs, local NHS, local schools. They are working with teachers.

Working with Tower Hamlets school teachers, are they?

Remind yourself of what Andrew Gilligan wrote after his Channel 4 Dispatches:

In fact, our reporters found, the IFE is a secretive, fundamentalist political network, dedicated, in its own words, to changing the “very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed … from ignorance to Islam.”

Back to Alibor. A bit later on, after some goading from Labour, he also said the SWP and Unite Against Fascism were “progressive organisations that we should aim to engage”.

Respect to him. He’s come out and said what we all knew.

But they’ve now shown their election strategy. This is what they are saying repeatedly to the Bengali press and TV channels: Labour and Jim Fitzpatrick brought the EDL to Tower Hamlets and it is only the Mayor Lutfur the Martyr who is standing up to them, with much thanks to the dear IFE.

They are trying to shift the goalposts and make the IFE appear mainstream.

And it’s a strategy that’s currently working among the Bengali population.

Labour, which managed to water down the amendment to thank all groups who helped block the EDL (including the police: in Lutfur’s version they weren’t mentioned – it was if they believed the IFE stewards were the police) and John Biggs need to shape up.

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It is surely a coincidence of almighty proportions that within months of bagging a £10,000 grant from the “Mayor’s Community Chest” fund, the Tower Hamlets Council of Mosques has been able to produce its first ever newsletter in which praise and thanks are offered to our Great and Dear Leader.

[A warning: what you’re about to read will never be reported in the Bangladeshi press because they’re also the lucky prize-winners from the Mayor’s pot of monopoly money (the London Bangla Press Club has been given a £9,000 prize to produce a “business plan”).]

The Council of Mosques has a website here and for some reason it seems to have permission from the town hall to use the Tower Hamlets Council logo. This isn’t surprising: they’re very close.

Screen shot 2013-08-04 at 20.35.33They’re also very grateful to Lutfur Rahman.

Here’s the newsletter:

p1

p1

p2

p2

p3

p3

p4

p4

Two quotes in particular on p1 stand out:

“I am extremely pleased to announce that 24 mosques and Islamic centres have benefitted from the first round of the Mayor’s Faith Building Fund. I’m sure all faith organisations appreciate the hard work of Mayor Lutfur Rahman in securing the funding for this scheme that will improve the facilities which serve tens of thousands of residents.”

“..special funding is given to the recent funding boost from Tower Hamlets council through the Mayor’s Funding scheme to support faith institutions.”

 The second quote is from Hira Islam, secretary general of the Council of Mosques.

Sound familiar? Well, Hira is, as I disclosed here a few years ago, also a heavy-hitter in the Islamic Forum of Europe.

The IFE, you’ll recall, featured heavily in Andrew Gilligan’s Channel 4 Dispatches documentary three years ago when the principal claim was that the group was trying to infiltrate Tower Hamlets Council and to influence Lutfur Rahman into directing town hall grants to its pet projects.

And Hira Islam was the “Mr A” mentioned in that Dispatches documentary, the serving council officer said to be a key figure in Lutfur’s mayoral campaign.

Both claims were mocked by the borough’s large flock of ostriches.

Yet, yet, yet…
It seems Hira and his friends in the IFE have been pretty successful at lobbying Lutfur.

As I detailed here in June, 24 mosques have been given £383,000 out of a total of £600,000 awarded in the first round of the Mayor’s three-year £3million programme to renovate faith buildings with taxpayers’ money. The wealthy East London Mosque has been given £10,000, none of which is going to the needy among its worshippers but instead to polish its sign and to repaint its dome and minaret.

The IFE and the CoM were instrumental in this, holding a large meeting in March to discuss how the funds could be distributed. Helpfully, the Mayor was on hand to explain the process. All above board. See here:

mayor1

Here are some more of their photos showing how the men at the Council of Mosques decide things:

Did you spot any women in any of those photos? (Maybe that’s why Tower Hamlets Borough Commander Dave Stringer policeman looked a bit miffed in one of those pictures.)

Here’s the Equalities Impact carried out by the council before the awarded the grants:

Community Faith Buildings Support Scheme 2012-2015 - Round 1

A “neutral” effect on gender in the borough apparently.

And here are the two councillors appointed by Lutfur to his Corporate Grants Programme Board, the body which “advises” which groups receive the money.

Lutfurites Alibor Choudhury and Maium Miah.

Seems they don’t much trust women when it comes to making decisions about money for religious buildings.

Surely if Lutfur truly was committed to equality (as he says he is), he’d have made it a strict condition of these grants that more women have to be involved in running the buildings?

Has he even raised these concerns during his regular meetings of the Council of the Mosques? Maybe he’s not even noticed the lack of women there.

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