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Posts Tagged ‘muslim council of britain’

Here’s an interesting insight into the mindset of Mayor Lutfur Rahman.

On December 7, Giles Broadbent, the editor of The Wharf newspaper, wrote a strongly worded opinion column detailing his exasperation with Lutfur’s refusal to answer questions from either members of the public or councillors at full council meetings.

At the previous meeting, opposition councillors fired a whole series of allegations his way, questioning whether council resources had been misused to help his re-election campaign. The council also voted to launch an investigation into claims by the Love Wapping blog that people purporting to work for Tower Hamlets Homes were canvassing for Lutfur during the day.

On each of these questions, Lutfur, though visibly reddening and seething, remained silent. Instead, he exercised his “right” to delegate the answers to his cabinet councillors who then stumbled and mumbled their way through the explanations.

Giles quite rightly thought this shameful.

Here’s part of what he wrote:

And what did the man himself have to say about all this at a recent council meeting when challenged? Furious denial? Tearful apology? The mayor said nothing. Being made to answer to the people “is contrary to his human rights”.

To the rest of the world, this continuing policy of silence is a joke, a punchline to a risible tale of East End lunacy. To the residents of Tower Hamlets, it is a serious and barbarous insult that damages their prosperity.

Compare Tower Hamlets to Newham. Both struck by terrible social and structural problems. Yet Newham – far from perfect – is at least outward looking and positive. It has embraced the Olympics and the Docks in order to share the dividends of growth.

Mr Rahman’s Tower Hamlets is backward, self-indulgent and dim. It is ripped apart by factionalism and stymied by cronyism. And the mayor, who sits atop this stinking pile, has nothing to offer but a sulk – truly a slap in the face for the residents who crave a future, not a
fiefdom.

It is to be hoped in the 2014 election the man who has tried so hard to undermine the principle of democratic accountability will feel the potency of its sting.

Lutfur took this rather badly and feeling the sting of The Wharf’s right to free speech in an opinion column based on the events of a full council meeting, Lutfur penned a letter of reply, which has been added to the original article. Here it is:

“Your column, ‘Spiral Notebook’; ‘Rahman’s insult to Tower Hamlets’, contains a series of gross inaccuracies and unfair innuendoes.

Surely, The Wharf has a responsibility to report and comment fairly? On the basis of this particular column it would appear that neither you nor your newspaper intends to do so in the run up to the Mayoral and local government elections in May.

You made no attempt to contact this council’s communications department or me, before publishing what amounts to a series of gross inaccuracies and innuendoes.

You have made direct allegations relating to the use of branded letters.

Such allegations are very serious and potentially imply a breach of electoral law.
The actual complaint relates to unbranded, council acknowledgement letters sent pursuant to casework.

The allegations that bogus representatives from the social housing company were using their access to residents in Wapping to flog [my] re-election bid are also completely untrue.

Cllr Alibor Choudhury categorically refuted these allegations, also made by the local Labour Party, in Full Council on 27 November. I also categorically refuted these claims in Cabinet on Wednesday 4 December. My rebuttal and that of Councillor Choudhury were carried in the East London Advertiser on Monday 2 December.

How, in these circumstances, you could run with these heavily contested and baseless allegations, let alone print them without putting them to me, is beyond me.

Similar claims have been made before, and the resulting police investigations have consistently found them to be baseless and a waste of police time.

Your comparisons between Tower Hamlets and Newham are insulting and inane. You may be interested to learn that not a single question has been asked of Mayor Sir Robin Wales, in any meeting of full council in the past seven months. In Tower Hamlets most of the political parties are represented. In Newham, all sixty councillors are from Sir Robin Wales’ party.

Perhaps The Wharf prefers a ‘one party borough’ solution?

I have never claimed that answering questions would ‘breach my human rights’ as you claim. I simply delegate the business of council to lead councillors, as is common-place in other local authorities.

I attend hundreds of public meetings where I am directly accountable to electors (rather than to opposition parties who were roundly rejected at the last election but by mere virtue of the electoral cycle continue to boast a majority in the chamber) and hold frequent press conferences where you and other journalists are welcome to hold me to account.

As a regular contributor to The Wharf, I had come to expect a whole lot better from your newspaper. I do hope that normal service may be resumed shortly.

Some who have read that last paragraph believe it’s an implied threat to withdraw his frequent offers of editorial magic. I’m not so sure it is, but if so…how the editors of the Bengali press must quake…

And as for his statement he holds frequent press conferences, does he? I don’t think I’ve ever been invited to one.

Anyway, let’s all applaud Lutfur’s determination to hold himself to account and also his championing of free speech.

I mean, free speech without intimidation and threats is a good thing right?

So what was Lutfur’s response to Anjem Choudary’s trip down Brick Lane last Friday when his Shariah Project groupies handed out mock-legal leaflets warning Bengali restaurateurs they faced hellfire or 40 lashes (take your pick!) for selling booze?

The East London Advertiser reports him saying:

We strongly believe in the right to free speech and association, and I am pleased that, with the police’s support, this group were able to exercise that right whilst upholding respect for our communities, which is the hallmark of our ‘No Place for Hate’ pledge.

He has to be kidding, right? Exactly what respect was Anjem showing to those he wants burnt in hell? Let’s remember that included in Amjem’s band of supporters are those convicted or terror and hate-related offences.

Only nine days ago, Anjem was reported in the Standard as saying the Muslim Patrol thugs who were convicted this month for abusing and attacking non-Muslims in Tower Hamlets deserved a “pat on the back”.

So isn’t Lutfur effectively saying, ‘You’re welcome to come back to protest and intimidate in Tower Hamlets any time you like?’

Which is a bit different to the message he rightly sends to that other fascist group, the English Defence League, which also claimed it merely wanted to exercise free speech.

I wonder if Lutfur, with this potential ‘one rule for one’ mentality secretly wants to provoke another visit by the EDL before next May.

By way of contrast, here are the thoughts of Labour group leader Sirajul Islam and the Muslim Council of Britain on Anjem’s visit:

Cllr Sirajul Islam, leader of the Labour group, said: “While Muslims may choose to abstain from alcohol, it is not right to forcefully push one view upon others.”

He added: “Provocative attempts to push a radical Sharia agenda will serve only to widen the divide between our communities, especially in light of the recent challenges we have faced from the EDL and so called ‘Muslim patrols’.”

Salman Farsi from the London Muslim Centre said: “While Islam may prohibit the consumption and sale of alcohol for Muslims, it is not for any particular groups to impose those views on others, nor bully other communities.”

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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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