Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘islamic forum of europe’

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.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

About this time two years ago, I wrote this:

My own view, as outlined here, is that the EDL should be banned as an organisation. I’ve seen them for myself on marches and they’re little more than a bunch of football hooligans who give both football and free speech a bad name. They go out to provoke and they glory in trying to outwit the likes of Anjem Choudary and the police when it comes to the former’s demonstrations.

So the Met’s decision yesterday to ask Theresa May to ban the EDL marching through Tower Hamlets last week is a good thing. Well done to Mayor Lutfur Rahman and all the other politicians and grass roots activists who helped persuade Scotland Yard. It was an easy win-win for Lutfur, but he grabbed the opportunity.

Plus ca change.

Pic credit: East London Advertiser

Pic credit: East London Advertiser

Credit must again go to Mayor Lutfur and his advisers for seizing yet another gift on a plate from the thickies of the EDL. How he must secretly love them.

And how his people must be laughing at Labour on this: he’s run rings around them.

Last year, Labour’s then group leader Josh Peck and many of his councillors decided to abstain from attending the counter-EDL rally. Josh’s view was that the UAF (Unite Against Fascism) was staging a demo as a precursor to a punch-up with the EDL. As it happens, he was right on that point of fact. But politically, even some of his allies think that was a mistake.

I’m told John Biggs thinks it was an error, which is why he was there in Altab Ali Park yesterday. Yet even under his leadership, Labour has allowed itself to be the object of ridicule and on the back foot. Their long-planned summer barbecue scheduled for yesterday was unfortunate timing, but how anyone failed to spot much earlier that it would be politically problematic is really quite odd.

If they are to beat Lutfur next May, they need to sharpen up their PR act big time…and quickly.

But let’s look at Lutfur’s tactics. His strategy for more than three years now has been to present himself to the Bengali community (via the press, satellite Bangladeshi TV channels and The Guardian) as the martyred Muslim victim of an evil racist plot by the Right-wing media, the institutionally racist decision-making bodies of Labour’s NEC and the anti-Muslim Peter Golds-led Tower Hamlets Tory party.

So when the English Defence League threaten to march this way, he becomes not just the martyr but also the hero leader: a modern-day Boudicca of the East End (in a Mercedes, not a chariot). He’s been telling his friendly uncritical TV channels (including the ones he now so generously helps to fund with council money) that it’s all Labour’s fault the EDL are coming.

He tells them that Andrew Gilligan’s Channel 4 Dispatches programme in March 2010 (disclosure: I appeared in it) was the main inspiration for the EDL. He says because Labour also played a part in that documentary (Jim Fitzpatrick was another interviewee), and because the accusations he was linked to Islamic fundamentalism were a big factor in his expulsion from Labour in summer 2010), Labour is thus responsible for the arrival of Stella-swigging monsters on the borough’s doorstep.

He then gleefully adds: “Look at what Labour are doing to stop them coming: they’re having a barbecue!” He has skewered them.

A classier group of politicians would then have let their actions do the talking; if you have the moral high ground, keep quiet and stay there. But Lutfur’s people can’t help themselves: they say any political leader not at yesterday’s rally cannot be in favour of Lutfur’s One Tower Hamlets mantra. The irony of this rally fascism is undoubtedly lost on them.

So where were the borough’s two MPs yesterday, they ask? Where was Peter Golds? I had a Twitter conversation about this with Lutfurite councillor Kabir Ahmed this morning.

There seemed to be some underlying implication that Peter is not as opposed to the EDL and fascism as Kabir is. Which given the sufferings of Peter’s family in the Holocaust is more than unfortunate. I then asked Kabir if he condemned the homophobic and anti-Semitic abuse that I’ve witnessed aimed at Peter by Lutfur’s supporters in the council chamber.

He was among the first Tower Hamlets councillors to sign the Hope not Hate pledge, he told me; he was a Hope not Hate champion…but repeatedly, Kabir refused to condemn those specific incidents by his own supporters. Such leadership.

There were probably other factors in the decision by some to stay away yesterday. They probably didn’t want to be associated with two of the rally’s predominant contingents: those strange bed-fellows, the Socialist Workers’ Party and the Islamic Forum of Europe.

I’m told the IFE had a 1,000 stewards out on the streets of Whitechapel yesterday. They were everywhere, even guarding the main stage in Altab Ali Park where speakers couldn’t help talking about the need not to strike Syria (the EDL would have applauded that). It was also the same stage onto which John Biggs was apparently initially declined entry.

I also saw a couple of IFE stewards standing guard opposite the Yummy Yummy sweet shop in New Road. I thought that might have been a coincidence, but it probably wasn’t. That sweet shop was no doubt highlighted as a potential EDL target…because, as I revealed earlier this year, it’s run by Anjem Choudary and his crowd.

You see, although the East London Mosque hasn’t exactly helped itself by failing to prevent homophobic and hate-fuelled sermons from the likes of Anwar al-Awlaki in the past, Anjem is the EDL’s biggest enemy. They follow him and his helpers everywhere. They’re on the same intellectual level.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see the United East End umbrella group of community groups etc etc take a stance on Anjem’s presence in the borough? Perhaps Lutfur and Kabir should organise a rally against him and his gang of terror groupies. I doubt we’d ever see the EDL again if he did that.

(And by the way, I hear that the Black Bloc anti-fascist group, many of whose members were arrested trying to attack the EDL yesterday, have started taking an interest in the Islamofascist tendencies of some Jamaat e Islami groups in the borough: that could be very interesting…).

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: