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Posts Tagged ‘tower hamlets council’

A bit of fun…I’ve just written this for the Express website. A cheery take on a very earnest proposal by Lutfurite councillors Rabina Khan and Rania Khan for a very worthy tribute to Nelson Mandela in Tower Hamlets.

nelson mandela tower hamlets

LEFTIE council bosses in London want to build a Nelson Mandela House–not in the Only Fools and Horses area of Peckham but a few miles away in Tower Hamlets.

Ruling councillors at the controversial east London authority want to name a new building after the late South African president “to ensure his legacy will always be upheld” in the area.

Councillors Rabina Khan and Rania Khan, a former member of the Socialist Workers’ Party, have proposed a motion on the idea for debate at next week’s full town hall meeting.

It is not known whether they are fans of the famous BBC sitcom, but when asked last night where Del and Rodney Trotter used to live, Cllr Rania Khan said she had no idea it was in Nelson Mandela House.

The fictional council tower block in Peckham was named by show creator John Sullivan as a mocking take on the socialist inner-city councils of the Eighties when Mandela was still in a Robben Island jail.

The motion by the two Tower Hamlets councillors makes no reference to Only Fools and Horses and is entirely serious and worthy.

They say their borough, which is frequently dogged by accusations of racism between Bengalis and whites, should learn from Mr Mandela who died last month.

They are demanding their council colleagues “name a building on the Blackwall [housing] development after Mandela”.

They urge the council “to use every relevant occasion to remind the young of the borough of the importance of both fighting for their beliefs and reconciliation”.

But in their preamble to the motion, the two councillors also try score political points by referring to the politics of the Eighties.

They write: “Despite Margaret Thatcher describing Nelson Mandela as a ‘terrorist’, and the refusal of the Tory government at the time to unite with the rest of Europe in imposing sanctions on South Africa, Nelson Mandela died perceived universally as a courage and principled politician whose example in resisting oppression and inequality inspires all those struggling for racial equality and social justice.

“In a borough where so many different races live side by side, Mandela’s determination to create racial equality and unite the black and white people of South Africa holds a particular importance.”

The two ex-Labour councillors are independent members and allied to the council’s directly elected mayor, Lutfur Rahman.

The site for the new building would be on the Blackwall Reach development, which is currently under construction by the Blackwall Tunnel.

Councils are currently expecting a deluge of request for changes in street names and other monuments in honour of Mr Mandela, but Tower Hamlets is believed to be the first to want a building in his honour.

Cllr Peter Golds, who leads the Tory opposition on the council, said his colleagues’ move was foolhardy and “singularly inappropriate”.
“I thought we had progressed from the days of Only Fools and Horses,” he said. “A statue would be a much better idea.”

Two tower blocks were used to depict Nelson Mandela House in the sitcom.

The original was in South Acton, west London, while the later shows featured Whitemead House in Bristol.

Cast members of the show were in mourning today after the death of actor Roger Lloyd-Pack who played the often dopy character Trigger.

The motion is listed here on p107 of the agenda for Wednesday’s full council meeting: 

12.11 Motion on Nelson Mandela

Proposer: Councillor Rabina Khan Seconder: Councillor Rania Khan

The Council notes:

• On the 5th December 2013, South African anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela passed away.

• Mandela served 27 years in prison after being convicted of attempting to overthrow the state while an international campaign lobbied for his release.

• After his release, Mandela joined negotiations with President FW de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections, lead the ANC into victory where he became South Africa’s first black president and won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

The Council believes:

• Despite Margaret Thatcher describing Nelson Mandela as a ‘terrorist’, and the refusal of the Tory government at the time to unite with the rest of Europe in imposing sanctions on South Africa, Nelson Mandela died perceived universally as a courage and principled politician whose example in resisting oppression and inequality inspires all those struggling for racial equality and social justice.

• In a borough where so many different races live side by side, Mandela’s determination to create racial equality and unite the black and white people of South Africa holds a particular importance.

The Council resolves:

• To remember Nelson Mandela, in particular, to use every relevant occasion to remind the young of the borough of the importance of both fighting for their beliefs and reconciliation.

• To name a building on the Blackwall redevelopment after Mandela to ensure that his legacy will always be upheld and achievements be acknowledged in Tower Hamlets.

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It’s being said the biggest problem John Biggs is going to have in beating Lutfur Rahman this May is his skin colour. Race and accusations of racism haunt Tower Hamlets politics like nowhere else.

The allegation is chucked around like confetti by politicians who really should be guarding and upholding the meaning of the word for those who are truly victims of it.

Very often those who feel so wronged are also sadly blind to the teeny-weeny possibility it’s they who might just possibly be the racist.

But are all parties institutionally racist to some degree? That’s possible as well.

anwarTake the case of Bow West councillor Anwar Khan. I wrote about him here last month when he was finally dropped as Labour candidate for the May election. I’d previously written that would have been a shame because as a successful professional in the City, he was a role model for young Bengalis.

At that time, I wasn’t aware he was in dispute with the council he represents over a parking issue. The allegation is that Anwar abused a parking  attendant, but Anwar says it was he who was abused. There’s an ongoing investigation.

Separately, there was another parking matter in which Anwar had been raising a number of member’s enquiries to argue a case for a constituent. Cllr Carlo Gibbs, Labour’s chief whip, made reference to that to the party’s selection panel, but apparently got his facts wrong. That said, there does seem to have been some concern in Labour circle about Anwar’s temper.

I’ve also been told that Anwar was involved in some smear campaign against John Biggs last year led by a former enemy of the Labour mayoral candidate. Anwar denies that as well.

When the deselection decision came through last month, Anwar said he would maintain a dignified and noble silence. He told me he’d maintain the moral high ground and wait to fight another day. He scoffed at the suggestion he might stand as a Lutfurite or help in the mayor’s campaign. He said he would make a more detailed statement in the New Year and when I asked him about the parking issue, he said he was unable to comment.

That conversation took place on December 11.

Yesterday, he sent me a press release that he’d sent out on December 18 in which he re-iterated comments he’d made that day at a press conference he’d called in Spitalfields. He forgot to invite me.

What he did say is detailed painstakingly here. This is a straight copy and paste from his press release and it’s worth reading all of it.

Labour Councillor Anwar Khan, representing Bow West in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, confirmed at a press conference in his home ward of Spitalfields that he will not be standing in the 2014 Local Government Elections.

Councillor Anwar Khan challenged John Biggs AM, City and East to provide valid reasons for his deselection and felt that the bullying that he has been subjected to has been an injustice to the community that he has served for the last four years.

Councillor Anwar Khan raised serious questions about the integrity of the selection process. Councillor Anwar Khan attached an email that went to the Labour Party selection committee from the current serving Chief Whip, Councillor Carlo Gibbs representing the St. Peters ward.

In that email, Councillor Anwar Khan confirmed that there were false accusations and lies that influenced the decision of the committee.

Councillor Anwar Khan said “there has been a false allegation made about a parking ticket incident, which is not true. I have not received a parking ticket for about 4 years”.

He continued, “Looks like John Biggs and the Labour superiors haven’t learnt from the dodgy dossiers in 2010. We have yet another set of lies and another dodgy dossier. This certainly is a déjà vu moment, one dodgy dossier is bad enough, but two goes to show the heart of Labour politics needs be more transparent and removed of the nastiness”.

Councillor Anwar Khan said “ if that wasn’t enough, Carlo Gibbs, Johns Biggs Chief Whip, hit the nail in the head with an email suggesting that he has the power to “stitch me up” if he wanted to. The exact quote from Carlo Gibbs is “if I wanted (or still did want) to stitch you up, I could easily have given them some of the emails”.

I am disgusted and horrified that John Biggs and Carlo did not allow the course of the selection process to work and this email just proves, the selection process overseen by John Biggs wasn’t whiter than white”.

Councillor Anwar Khan also questioned, it seems odd, that John decided to deselect genuine hard working Labour Councillors in favour of defected Respect activists. He said “Hard working sitting Labour councillors and activists are ditched in favour of Respect members, this doesn’t make sense”.

See attached email evidence from Carlo Gibbs – “stitch up email” and the “dodgy email” about the parking ticket.

Councillor Khan stated that on one hand, Johns Biggs AM (also proxy Leader of Labour Group) talks about, making politics in Tower Hamlets healthier and cleaner, such as the motion agreed in council on the allegations against the Mayor on paid canvassers in the last council meeting.

Councillor Anwar Khan said “it strikes me that John Biggs is accusing others of nasty politics, when he needs to get his house in order first”. The lies and false information from the Chief Whip shows that this isn’t the case and this is certainly not healthy for the good people of Tower Hamlets.

Councillor Anwar Khan said, “what was stopping John from asking me, whether I received a parking ticket or not and why did he feel the need to use Carlo to do the dirty work and write these false emails”.

Councillor Khan also confirmed that he was given an additional interview, which was one more than everyone else, which is unfair to all those who only got one.

He said, “it looks like they have been after me and simply fishing for a reason, in the additional interview, a regional officer, who was supposed to be an observer led the questioning, I think that was quite unfair, and I am concerned that he may have been subject to information that was provided by third parties, he even said that he was only an observer and won’t do any questioning”.

He went on to say “it is also surprising that others were only interviewed once, then why was I interviewed twice.”

Anwar Khan continued “in the Whips report that was prepared by Carlo Gibbs, once again there was reference to a “disciplinary matter”, that disciplinary matter, was actually me trying to do my job as a councillor to help a resident get a parking permit. If Carlo just asked me, why I have been challenging officers, I would have given him an explanation, that it was an ongoing issue for about 4 years where the resident has been misled about his car parking permit, I have tried to help the resident and the council have been unreasonable, as the resident was lied to that his new house offered a street permit, when in actual fact it was a car free zone.

Why and how that becomes a disciplinary matter is quite beyond belief, I was just doing my job to serve my constituents, what I was elected to disciplinary matter. And how can this be a disciplinary matter, they didn’t give me a chance to explain that.

All very botched up and this isn’t the reason I came into politics, I came into politics to represent people and that’s exactly what I did. I am a community councillor, not a town hall technocrat or bureaucrat”.

Councillor Anwar Khan, said, “there have been no reasons provided to me with regards to the reasons for my deselection. I have worked hard for the people of Bow, and I am confident there is not a single complaint against me from the community. I have one of the highest member’s enquiry rates”.

Member’s enquiries are a key measure of how effectively councillors are representing their constituents. He said, that the community should decide on which Councillors are hard working and which Councillors aren’t, they should review the members enquiry numbers for themselves.

Councillor Anwar Khan said “as his Shadow Cabinet Lead for Employment, I led the policy forum on economic growth and employment in Tower Hamlets.,

John talks about helping young graduates into jobs in the City and Canary Wharf, I am a local graduate working in the City and have helped many people into jobs in Canary Wharf, then why has John deselected me, it seems to me, that as soon as they fear that someone from the Bengali community is outspoken, and can challenge John’s politics, they easiest thing to do is to remove them. Why remove someone who has achieved something that you want other young people to achieve.

– ENDS – 

Notes:

1. Councillor Anwar Khan was elected in 2010 in the ward of Bow West, winning a conservative seat from Anwara Ali, a local GP.

2. Councillor Anwar Khan has lived in Tower Hamlets all his life, went to Osmani Primary School, Swanlea School. He studied in Newham Sixth Form and later achieved his undergraduate degree in Cass Business School, and has a Masters in Global Politics.

3. Councillor Anwar khan, lives in Spitalfields with his family

4. Councillor Anwar Khan works in the financial services industry in the City of London

5. Councillor Anwar Khan also served in Shadow Cabinet in all years, including holding the role of Shadow Cabinet Member for Resources and is currently the Shadow Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, Regeneration and Employment.

6. Councillor Anwar Khan was the Chief Whip for the first 3 years. During his term he also served as the Chairman of the Pensions Committee.

7. Councillor Anwar Khan has been one of the longest serving Chief Whips in the Labour Group. 

A lot to take in I agree and such injustices, but I was grabbed by this line in particular:

as soon as they fear that someone from the Bengali community is outspoken, and can challenge John’s politics, they easiest thing to do is to remove them

I asked him if he genuinely believed what amounted to an allegation of racism and he said he stood by his words. He said John wanted a group he could control, people who went ‘yes sir, no sir, three bags full, sir’. He said John had reacted badly when he, Anwar, challenged John’s choice for a health scrutiny role. John would dump anyone who stood up to him, he added.

And then came the poisoned arrow.

He asked how many of the current crop of Labour Bengali councillors are unemployed or “have ever had a proper job”. He said John was encouraging young people to go to university and look for a job, yet he was picking candidates who were the very opposite of that while deselecting him and Mizan Chaudhury, a professional civil servant.

So I asked a friend of his who he had in mind. Well, said this friend, look at the following:

Cllr Abdul Mukith Chunu – unemployed, serves as board member for Spitalfields housing association 

Cllr Rajib Ahmed – mini cab driver

Cllr Abdal Ullah – unemployed/ BBPower100 consultant/ President of Stepney FC/showboating councillor who does community radio

Cllr Motin Uz Zaman – long term unemployed 

Cllr Helal Abbas – Charity Outreach worker

Cllr Siraj Islam – works part time for two days a week at East London Business Alliance

Cllr Khales Uddin Ahmed – owns a restaurant in Bexley Heath

Cllr Helal Uddin – director at Bromley by Bow centre

Sanu Miah – St Peter’s candidate – long term unemployed and unsuccessful businessman

Faruk Ahmed – Whitechapel candidate – Works for Sonali Otith football club  

Cllr Shiria Khatun – community worker 

I suggested that many of these jobs, eg Rajib working as a minicab driver, meant they were more likely to be in touch with constituents than full time City professionals like Anwar. But the friend said “at least he lives in Tower Hamlets”.

There’s a few more things I could write from my discussions but I think this is enough for now!

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Al-KalbaniRemember this photo from 2008? I wrote about it on this blog in 2010.

It shows Lutfur Rahman, then the council leader rather than his current position as executive mayor, with Sheikh Adel Al-Kalbani walking by the Tower Hamlets town hall at Mulberry Place.

Behind them are Rofique Ahmed and Shafiqul Haque. Both were then, like Lutfur, Labour councillors. They are now, according to officers who have worked with them, two of the least productive independent members of his cabinet (but they still get some £20k a year for their ‘work’).

Al Kalbani was at that time the Second Imam of Kabbah, the Grand Mosque in Mecca, considered by Muslims as the most sacred place on Earth.

He had been appointed to the position by the Saudi royal family shortly before his trip to the UK where he was attending the annual Islamic Global Peace and Unity event at the ExCeL centre (Lutfur spoke at this year’s gathering last month).

As he had some down time, according to a conversation I had with Lutfur about it a bit later, he decided to pop over to the town hall where he found Lutfur’s office door open and so they had a cup of tea. “He’s a very pious man,” Lutfur told me.

Ever so spontaneously, Al Kalbani then led prayers at the town hall’s second building, Anchorage House, for staff and councillors.

The episode was cited by Cllr Helal Abbas in his dossier of evidence to Labour’s NEC in 2010 as proof that Lutfur was taking a less than secular approach to politics.

In the months and years after his visit, Al Kalbani, a Sunni, seemed to develop some rather hardline views, arguably against Christian and Jews in Saudi Arabia, but particularly about Shia Muslims.

This five minute YouTube video of him in a broadcast interview is fascinating:

He says Shia scholars are apostates (the punishment for whom in Islam can be a bit harsh), that Shia laymen are ignorant, that there can be no such thing in Saudi Arabia as a “Christian citizen”: they can only be guests, because the guidance from the Prophet Mohammed was to drive Christians and Jews from that land.

In Britain, there is increasing concern about the Sunni/Shia divide. Counter-extremism experts believe the crisis in Syria, which on a simple level is Sunni rebels trying to topple Shia President Asad’s regime, might fuel latent dislike.

In May, Anjem Choudary’s hardline Salafi mob (Salafis follow the Sunni tradition) led a violent demonstration against Shias in Edgware Road.

It is possibly for this reason that the “very pious” Al Kalbani has been refused entry to the UK. Harry’s Place had a piece on this a couple of days ago, while I wrote this article for the Express yesterday. The Home Office refused to elaborate on why his visa was declined.

This Government is clearly taking a much harder line against potential problem preachers coming to these shores.

It means the Water Lily Centre on Mile End Road didn’t have a star guest today, and neither did the Esha’atul Islam Mosque in Whitechapel last night.

Adel-al-Kalbani-UK-tour
Here’s the piece I wrote for the Express:

ONE of the most senior Muslim clerics in Saudi Arabia has been refused entry to the UK, just as he was to embark on a speaking tour of British mosques.

Sheikh Adel Al-Kalbani, a former senior imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, was prevented from boarding his plane in Riyadh on Wednesday.

He was due to fly to London, where he had been expected to give a lecture in Whitechapel last night and another one in Wembley today.

It is not known why a visa for Al Kalbani was refused.

He has previously been allowed into the country and in 2008 he was a guest of the then leader of Tower Hamlets council in east London, Lutfur Rahman.

Mr Rahman is now the directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets.

Since 2008, the Sunni cleric has been quoted expounding potentially divisive views regarding Shia Muslims. 

There has been increasing concern among extremism experts over attempts to divide Shia and Sunni Muslims in Britain.

Followers of radical hate preacher Anjem Choudary led a demonstration in London in May against Shia Muslims.

According to the Arab News website, Al-Kalbani had performed the noon and afternoon prayers before heading to the King Khaled International Airport.

He was quoted as saying: “I was stopped at the door of the plane and told that the authorities received a message from the British Embassy saying that I was not allowed to enter Britain.”

He said he had received his visa from the British Embassy in Saudi Arabia in October, just two weeks after submitting his application.

The British Embassy apparently did not explain why he was then later refused.

He said: “I don’t really know why they denied me entry. I was in Britain about four years ago and other countries.

“I was told that other Muslim scholars have also been denied entry and had their visas cancelled. 

“My gut feeling is that they don’t want to see me interacting with the Muslim community there.”

He said he would not be appealing the decision. He said Allah “has chosen the best for me”.

Al Kalbani was the star billing on the Qibla speaking tour over the next 10 days.

He was due to talk at the Water Lily centre in Whitechapel tomorrow, then at Luton later in the day, then Swansea and Cardiff on Sunday.

He had a talk planned in Kingston, Surrey, on Monday while Muslims in Birmingham and Walsall were due to welcome him on Christmas Eve.

A Home Office spokeswoman said she was unable to comment on specific individuals, but added: “All visa applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules. 

“The onus is on the individual to ensure they provide the correct evidence when submitting an application.”

I’ll leave it for you to debate whether this sheds new light on Abbas’s warning three years ago.

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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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During an interview with Sadiq Khan last Thursday, the day before he launched a booklet he edited for the Fabian Society on policy ideas for London, I asked him about the contrasting approaches to community cohesion followed in Newham and Tower Hamlets.

As well as being Shadow Justice Secretary, the Tooting MP is also Shadow Minister for London. He ran Ed Miliband’s leadership campaign and  during 2014 we may well get strong hints (and more) that he is Ed’s favourite for Labour’s next candidate for Mayor of London.

Officially, Sadiq hasn’t declared himself, but it’s all but certain he will. In the meantime, he’ll be in charge of co-ordinating Labour’s council campaign in London for May and Tower Hamlets is top of the party’s hit list.

He’s a big fan of Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales, as are many in Labour’s top team judging from the amount of policy ideas they seem to be adopting from him.

As I disclosed here in April, Sir Robin has City Hall ambitions of his own….but but but… . Sadiq describes him as a “good friend” and he asked him to write a chapter for the booklet Our London. His piece was on the potential power of local councils to help create jobs: not in the way that Tower Hamlets has traditionally done by using public cash to create non-jobs, but by training up youngsters and encouraging businesses to hire them through a scheme called Workplace.

Since Sir Robin outlined his ambitions to me in April, he’s been fairly low key on the subject. I suspect that’s because he now sees himself as a future driving force deputy/chief of staff…to Sadiq Khan. A Labour version of Sir Edward Lister, as it were.

Sadiq is also more impressed with Sir Robin’s attitude towards community cohesion, particularly compared with the Lutfur Rahman model in Tower Hamlets. During our chat, I raised the issue of Tower Hamlets council funding free Bengali Mother Tongue classes for kids whose grasp of English isn’t often up to scratch. He was shocked. Such finite public money should be used for English lessons, he said.

He also said he was not particularly in favour of using grants for mono-ethnic projects and events: that if taxpayers’ money was to be offered, there should be some demonstration of inclusiveness to people of all backgrounds. Clearly, public money being used for things like Eid in the Square or London-wide Diwali celebrations would be exceptions.

These mirror Sir Robin’s thoughts, as he outlined on this blog here.

Anyway, all this is b way of background…and because it’s of relevance to Tower Hamlets, I thought people might be interested in reading the interview I did with Sadiq, which was published on Express Online yesterday.

I tried to explore his personal background, what shaped him…suffering racism as a kid in London in the late Seventies and early Eighties certainly had an effect, as it had on so many in Tower Hamlets.

FOR football mad youngsters growing up around Wandsworth, southwest London, the question of which team to support isn’t usually the hardest decision they’ll ever make.

But in the early Eighties, Chelsea weren’t much good. And neither were their fans the most welcoming group to teenagers of Pakistani heritage.

Which is why Tooting MP Sadiq Khan, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary and an aspiring Mayor of London, is a passionate and lifelong Liverpool fan.

One of his elder brothers did go to the Shed end at Stamford Bridge, but he and his friends were so appallingly attacked and abused, supporting Chelsea just “wasn’t an option”.

He says he feels uncomfortable talking about his experiences of racism–some of them violent–but they have clearly helped shaped him, first as a leading human rights lawyer, also as a Wandsworth councillor, then as an MP and minister, and now as a yet-to-be-confirmed challenger for London’s City Hall in 2016.

Today, he launches a fascinating pamphlet of essays that he’s edited and entitled ‘Our London – The Capital 2015’.

In some ways, the pamphlet is groundbreaking: it’s been sponsored by both the City of London and Unions Together, the political campaigning arm of 15 trade unions.

As one MP joked, “that’s harmony”, but the collection contains thoughts from a number of leading London lights, including from Baroness Doreen Lawrence, the recently ennobled mother of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

Khan’s own chapter is on housing (“housing, housing, housing” should be Labour’s solution to poverty, he argues) but almost all of them tap into the theme raised by Labour leader Ed Miliband in his own foreword: the cost of living crisis.

Arguably, that crisis is greater in high cost London than anywhere else.

The pamphlet is something of a Labour vision for London: more housing, a London minimum wage, new tunnel and bridge crossings for the east of the capital, more grassroots access to the booming arts scene, greater representation of ethnic minorities in the Metropolitan

Police, and more harmonious community cohesion are just some of the ideas explored.

But who would deliver them for Labour?

MPs David Lammy and Diane Abbott are known contenders, as is Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales, but when Sadiq Khan was made Shadow Minister for London 11 months ago, it was a strong hint he was the leadership’s favoured candidate.

In fact, Sir Robin, who has written an essay for the pamphlet and whose policies have been admired by Labour HQ, might well end up as Khan’s deputy.

Does he want the job, though? Of course he does, but he won’t confirm it.

“I’m happy in the Shadow Cabinet, but if the ball comes my way, I’ll certainly play it,” he says.

But what would he be like as the capital’s most powerful man and London’s first Muslim mayor.

Unlike current incumbent Tory Boris Johnson, or his Labour predecessor Ken Livingstone, he doesn’t seem to have an ego that mirrors London’s massive scale.

Yet a more thoughtful, subtle and softer approach is perhaps just what is needed after years of division and bombast.

Now 43, he grew up the son of a bus driver in Earlsfield and has lived in the Tooting area all his life.

He is married to a fellow solicitor and has two daughters, both of whom went to the same state schools as their parents.
And the fact that they haven’t had to endure some of the racism he suffered when their age is to him a mark of how much London has changed.

“Things have definitely moved on in the sense that the sort of name calling [I experienced] would not be tolerated and schools are now far, far better at stamping it out,” he says.

“There’s much more a zero tolerance now. My big brother used to go to Stamford Bridge a few times and was given a hard time. They used to have this this thing called The Shed. And if you were a person who looked like my big brother–Asian–you weren’t welcome there.

“People we know suffered really bad racial abuse. They were beaten up and all the rest of it, so because of their experience of Chelsea, at that stage, I wanted nothing to do with Chelsea.

“Supporting them really wasn’t an option for me.”

Asked about his own experiences, he says: “I feel uncomfortable talking about these sorts of things because I don’t want younger people of ethnic origin to feel discouraged, but when I was growing up you’d often suffer racial abuse, verbal abuse name-calling, people driving past and spitting on your car.

“It didn’t happen all the time but it wasn’t unusual, so you’d be playing football in the park, and somebody would call you the P word. You’d be walking down the road or on the estate, you’d see a group coming along; the sensible thing to do would be to cross the road and just to avoid it, so you became street wise and you’d learn ways of avoiding trouble if you could.

“That said, I can look after myself. We knew how to look after ourselves if we got into a fight. I’ve got six brothers. It wasn’t an issue about being a coward and running away but it was about being sensible. Life’s hard enough as it is without looking for trouble.”

“It was part and parcel of life in those days, hearing about someone being attacked or beaten up. That’s why the murder of Stephen Lawrence had such an impact on people like us because we feel the ripples.

“There but for the grace of God that could’ve been me, it could have been my brother.”

Does he suffer racial abuse now?

“In recent times, not to my face. One of things that happens when you become middle aged and you wear nice clothes and you drive a nice car is it doesn’t happen so much, but I still know which estates to avoid and how to be streetwise.”

As mayor, he would be responsible for overseeing the Metropolitan Police Service whose struggle to recruit and retain ethnic minority officers is known to be a concern for Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe.

Khan has similar concerns. “Do we really want a London where people feel like second class citizens because of the colour of their skin?” he says generally.

While he believes abundant and genuinely affordable housing, including private rented accommodation (which he wants regulated) is the key to social mobility and poverty, community cohesion is also a key theme.

“Community cohesion is not gobbledegook,” he says. It’s vital.

He argues for more “community hubs”, places such as playgrounds, local football clubs and schools where people of all backgrounds and faiths actually mix and learn about each other.

The earlier the mingling starts in life, the better.

What he would not want is public money directed to projects that encourage a mono-ethnic identity and introspection.

In Tower Hamlets, where many young Bangladeshi children struggle with English when they first attend primary school, grant money is used to subsidise free Mother Tongue classes to teach them Bengali.

He himself is fluent in Urdu but is adamantly against such policies: “When you have finite resources, that money should be used to teach them English.”

Khan, regularly goes to Hyde Park Corner to watch the soapbox Sunday orators, is not shy of a debate.

But will he fulfil his dream for London? As one of his Labour colleague points, his 2010 election slogan in Tooting was “Yes we Khan.”

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Anjem Choudary, the brains behind the chain of Yummy Yummy sweet shops in Tower Hamlets (and a charming hate preacher to boot) is calling on his little groupies to march in Brick Lane at 2pm today.

His target is alcohol, which he apparently used to love in great quantities while Andy Choudary the student at Southampton University.

anjem-choudary-b

His message could be that if you drink loads of booze, you’ll turn out like him. And that surely would be a good warning.

But he’s not saying that. He’s saying alcohol is an abomination os Satan and if you “leave it, you can be successful”. Er, just like him.

Having had many of his predecessor groups such as Al Muhajiroun and Islam4UK banned by the Home Secretary, another website called the Shariah Project has popped up.

And that’s where we can see his latest threatening leaflet, which might well have been distributed in Brick Lane (i don’t know if it has) where the intention is to intimidate the many Bengali curry restaurant workers from selling booze. It’s the Muslim Patrol v2.

They purport to be “legal notices from the Department of Regulation at Tower Hamlets Council”. But they’re clearly fake because any fool knows Tower Hamlets council doesn’t do regulation.

Anjem letter

Department ofBusiness Regulation

Tower Hamlets

RE: YOUR LICENCE TO SELL ALCOHOL HAS BEEN REVOKED – DO NOT IGNORE THIS LETTER

Dear Business Owner

This letter is legal notice that you have no legal permission to sell, serve or stock alcohol atyour premises. If you are still stocking, serving or selling any alcoholic products beverages, you must cease immediately.

Failure to comply with this notice to cease trading in alcoholic products is illegal and you will be liable to severe penalties as will be explained in this letter. Please note that you have noright to appeal this decision and you cannot apply for any further licences to serve alcohol on these premises or any other businesses you are associated with.

You have been formally warned that you are breaking the Prohibition of the sale of alcohol law chapter 4, sect. 90 of the Quran, which states: “Alcohol, gambling, divination of arrowsare only abominations of satan, so leave it so that you can be successful.” And in thetradition of Muhammad recorded in Abu Dawood v.4 p.207, “Whenever Allah has prohibiteda thing, it is prohibited to benefit from it or its outcome.” And in Musnad Ahmed, “Verily if Allah has prohibited for people the consumption of a thing, He also has prohibited its sale.” And in Tirmidhi No.2776, Anas ibn Malik narrated that “Allah’s Messenger cursed ten peoplein connection with alcohol: the presser, the one who has it pressed, the one who drinks it,the one who conveys it, the one to whom it is conveyed, the one who serves it, the one whosells it, the one who benefits from the price paid for it, the one who buys it, and the one forwhom it is bought.”

The penalty for failing to cease drinking, serving or selling alcohol includes the curse of Allah, punishment by hellfire in the afterlife and if found guilty in a shariah court following theestablishment of the upcoming Islamic state you could be liable to forty lashes publically. 

DO NOT IGNORE THIS LETTER

If you have any questions regarding this notice or if you would like more information aboutwhat to do next, please visit http://www.iqaamah.co.uk/legalnotice/ or you can contact us by phone on 07956041034. For further information in Bengali contact 07939349760

The thing is, I agree with him. I think anyone buying booze from Brick Lane’s curry houses deserves to go to hell fire. I mean,you never know what they’re serving. Remember this?

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With the fluid movements between the various parties over the years, Tower Hamlets politics has always been a bit of an incestuous affair, but the Labour’s new slate of 45 candidates for the May 2014 council elections has taken it to a new level.

We seem to have couples, mums and sons and brothers at war everywhere. It’s like Dallas and Dynasty combined. John Biggs, the Labour puppet-master, has become JR.

The candidates were announced last night. As mentioned before, Judith Gardner has stepped down; Bill Turner has moved to Barking and Dagenham where he’s secured a candidacy for that council; Kosru Uddin and Ahmed Omer are departing; Mizan Chowdhury has been axed, as has Anwar Khan, who is in dispute with the council over an alleged fracas with a parking attendant…something he denies.

So there are many fresh and young faces, which in part reflects a determination to bring in a new generation. Robbie Scott will be interesting to watch: I don’t think he’ll shy away from confrontation.

And I’m told Amina Ali, a BBC journalist selected in Bow East, might well be a star of the future. If she’s elected of course.

Standing with her in Bow East are Cllr Marc Francis and his wife Rachel Blake.

Anwar Khan’s place in Bow West is taken by his sister-in-law, Asma Begum, who is married to Anwar’s brother, Tarik Khan, who is a lovely placid chap.

Raju Rahman, who has been selected in the new ward of Island Gardens, is also said to be a bright rising star; he’s the son of Cllr Zenith Rahman, who is married to ex-Councillor Helal Rahman.

Cllr Carlo Gibbs and Cllr Amy Whitelock Gibbs were married earlier this year.

Cllr Rachael Saunders is married to Tower Hamlets Labour chair Chris Weavers, while Cllr David Edgar is married to Lib Dem Cllr Stephanie Eaton.

It’s not just Labour, of course. Among Lutfur’s camp, Cllr Aminur Khan is married to Cllr Rabina Khan, while Cllr Rania Khan is the daughter of Cllr Lutfa Begum.

The latter two were in Respect, as was ex-Cllr Mamun Rashid, who has been selected for Labour to stand in Shadwell, where he has a big following. (Rashid and Lutfur, by the way, have past links…I was once handed a tape recording transcript of Lutfur, when he was fighting to become the Labour parliamentary candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow in 2007, calling on Allah to bless Mamun and another Respect colleague for helping him fight the eventual victor, Rushanara Ali. I must dig it out).

If you want to see all the pictures of Labour’s candidates see here, here and here.

I’ll try to find time to do some substantial analysis of the slate; if anyone has any inside info, do please email me.

In the meantime, here’s a list (Y/N signifies sitting councillor or not).

 

Amy Whitelock Gibbs  Bethnal Green Y Married to
Carlo Gibbs
Abdirashid Gulaid  Bethnal Green N
Sirajul Islam  Bethnal Green Y
David Chesterton  Blackwall &
Cubitt Town
N
Iqbal Hossain  Blackwall &
Cubitt Town
N
Candida Ronald  Blackwall &
Cubitt Town
N
Rachel Blake  Bow East N Married
to Marc Francis
Marc Francis  Bow East Y Married
to Rachel Blake
Amina Ali  Bow
East
N
Asma Begum  Bow
West
N Brother-in-law
of Cllr Anwar Khan/Married to Tarik Khan
Joshua Peck  Bow
West
Y
Zenith Rahman  Bromley North Y Mother
of Raju Rahman
Khales Uddin Ahmed  Bromley
North
Y
Danny Hassell  Bromley South N
Helal Uddin  Bromley South Y
Shahaveer Hussain  Canary Wharf N
Debbie Simone  Canary Wharf N
Raju Rahman  Island Gardens N Son
of Zenith Rahman
Andy Cregan  Island Gardens N
Rajib Ahmed  Lansbury Y
Shiria Khatun  Lansbury Y
Dave Smith  Lansbury N
Catherine Overton  Limehouse N
Rachael Saunders  Mile End Y  Married to TH Labour chair Chris Weavers
David Edgar  Mile
End
Y Married
to Stepanie Eaton
Motin Uz-Zaman  Mile End Y
Kahar Chowdhury  Poplar N
Mohammed Mamun Rashid  Shadwell N Was
‘married’ to George Galloway
Farhana Zaman  Shadwell N
Helal Uddin Abbas  Spitalfields &
Banglatown
Y
Tarik Khan  Spitalfields &
Banglatown
N Brother
of Cllr Anwar Khan/Married to Asma Begum
Mohammed Ayas Miah  St. Dunstan’s N
Abdal Ullah  St.
Dunstan’s
Y
Denise Jones  St. Katharine’s
& Wapping
Y
Robbie Scott  St. Katharine’s
& Wapping
N
Clare Harrisson  St. Peter’s N
Sanu Miah  St. Peter’s N
Carlo Gibbs  St.
Peter’s
Y Married
to Amy Whitelock
Victoria Obaze  Stepney Green N
Sabina Akhtar  Stepney
Green
N
Abdul Mukit  Weavers Y
John Pierce  Weavers Y
Faruque Ahmed  Whitechapel N
Jamalur Rahman  Whitechapel N
Robert Robinson  Whitechapel N

 

 

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Nigel McCollumTower Hamlets police have launched an investigation into a homophobic smear campaign against former Lib Dem councillor Nigel McCollum.

Posters appeared in bus shelters near his home in the Old Ford Road area of Bow late on Wednesday night, Thursday morning and again today. In total, about 10 have been found.

The posters, which include a recently taken photograph at him at an event in Bow attended by the Duchess of Gloucester, label him a ‘paedophile’. They gave his address and phone numbers.

They also went into more details which I’m not publishing. All are false.

He is openly gay and delivered a petition on behalf of other residents in Bow at Wednesday’s council meeting, which also heard a series of people and youngsters condemning homophobia in the borough.

Although a former Lib Dem, as regular readers of this blog will know, he is now a supporter and good friend of Mayor Lutfur Rahman.

The mayor has just posted comments about the incident on his blog today. That he failed to condemn the homophobic rants against Tory Peter Golds at previous council meetings in no way detracts from the gravity of his words.

Here’s what Lutfur says:

I have been appalled to learn of the quite shocking and potentially criminal actions that have directly followed the public intervention of one of our borough’s prominent and respected residents, former Lib Dem councillor, Nigel McCollum, in the full council meeting in the Town Hall on Wednesday night.

I understand the police have launched an immediate investigation in to who is behind the posting of deeply offensive leaflets, picturing Nigel McCollum, and claiming that he is a ‘paedophile’. These posters have been posted in and around public areas near to where Nigel lives.

Fortunately, Nigel was alerted by concerned neighbours and friends upon waking on Thursday morning.

He had raised what he believes to have been the scandalous role of some local Labour councillors in wasting £1.6 million on developments in the Roman Road the previous evening at a meeting of the full council.

Both Lib Dem leader, Councillor Stephanie Eaton and I are urging the police to mount a full and thorough investigation. Both Stephanie and I wish to condemn what Nigel and ourselves believe to be a serious homophobic attack, and one that may well be politically charged. I have spoken to Nigel and offered him both our sympathy and our full support.

There can be no place for homophobia and hate in Tower Hamlets. Those who attempt to promulgate it must know that there will be consequences to their actions.

And here’s what Lib Dem councillor Stephanie Eaton says in the press release she’s just issued:

Former Liberal Democrat Councillor Nigel McCollum has been the subject of anonymous smears and lies following his presentation of a petition to full council on Wednesday night. On Thursday morning, a number of posters were found in Bow making untrue and homophobic accusations against Mr McCollum. The police have launched an immediate investigation in to the production of the posters, which included a recent photograph of Nigel McCollum and his contact details. The posters were posted in public areas near to where Mr McCollum lives.

Liberal Democrat Councillor, Dr Stephanie Eaton said: “I am appalled to learn of the shocking and potentially criminal actions that have directly followed the public intervention of one of our borough’s respected residents, Nigel McCollum, in the full council meeting in the Town Hall on Wednesday night. Nigel McCollum had raised what he believes to have been the scandalous role of some local Labour councillors in wasting £1.6 million on developments in the Roman Road the previous evening at a meeting of the full council.

Nigel and I believe this to be a serious homophobic attack, and one that is aimed at stopping him from continuing his political activities. To post anonymous homophobic attacks about a resident and former councillor simply because he has raised legitimate questions about public spending is cowardly and unacceptable. It is an attack on all people involved in local politics, and one which has the potential to deter LGBT people from public service.

There can be no place for homophobia in Tower Hamlets and in Tower Hamlets politics.”  

Notes for Editors

Nigel McCollum was a Tower Hamlets Councillor from 2002-2006 representing the ward of Bow East. He is a gay man in a long term relationship with his partner.

In 2005/2006 Nigel McCollum was subjected to anonymous hate mail making similar homophobic accusations. At the same time anonymous defamatory statements were also circulated to the Police, media and local politicians. The intimidation and harassment was a key reason in Nigel’s decision not to stand for re-election in 2006. As soon as this decision was announced, the harassment stopped.

Whether it was politically motivated or just some evil idiot with another grudge should be easy to prove. Plenty of CCTV in the area in question.

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The firs part of this article is a cross-post from Mark Baynes’s Love Wapping blog.

[For a bit of context, my opinion of Ohid Ahmed hardened in August 2008 at a big screen showing in Victoria Park of the Beijing Olympics closing ceremony. Only some 100 residents turned up and they all sat around on the grass mingling with each other. In the middle of all this, the council had erected a small marquee with a fenced off garden specially for ‘VIPs’. With free food and drink of course. In that marquee were three councillors, two of whom are now Lutfurites, Rofique Ahmed and Ohid Ahmed. Not once throughout the entire event did any of them set foot outside to talk to residents. For them, it was just about prestige and freebies. It was mentioned in a report for the East London Advertiser at the time.]ELA Aug 2008

Here is Mark Baynes’s piece.

Deputy Mayor Cllr. Ohid Ahmed health scare update

I am sure that residents of Wapping take a great interest in the health and general wellbeing of our elected representatives.

So it is with great relief that I can report that Tower Hamlets Deputy Mayor Cllr Ohid Ahmed has got over his recent bout of flu.

“What flu?” I hear you asking.

The flu that prevented the Deputy Mayor from turning up to the St Katharine’s and Wapping Community Safety Walkabout on Friday 22 November at 4pm.

Cllr. Ohid Ahmed was on the list of attending officers but after a slight delay we were told that he had flu / was feeling unwell so the walk went ahead without him.

And very interesting it was too.

No need for concern

Since then the state of the Deputy Mayor’s health has been of some concern to us here at Love Wapping so it was great to discover via the wonders of Facebook that Cllr. Ohid Ahmed was looking fit and well only a few hours later that very same day!

A fit and well Cllr. Ohid Ahmed at a dinner on the evening of Friday 22 Nov 2013

A fit and well Cllr. Ohid Ahmed at a dinner on the evening of Friday 22 Nov 2013

In fact he had recovered from his flu so quickly that he was pictured enjoying dinner with friends at the Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London. (For those of you not on Facebook we borrowed the pic, but we are sure no one will mind given the circumstances.)

Trees are good

Oddly enough this dinner was for Trees for Change, a campaign to plant 30,000 trees in Africa. Great idea.

Wapping Woods has quite a few trees too so let’s hope that next time there is a Community Safety Walkabout in Wapping the Deputy Mayor is fit enough to attend.

UPDATE:

I’ve now had a look at Ohid’s Facebook page and see that this meal at the Marriott in the West End was a “pre-GPU meal”.

Ohid GPU

The GPU is the Islamic Global Peace and Unity event that’s been taking place at the ExCeL centre this weekend. Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has condemned those, including Boris Johnson, who have sent messages of support for it because its list of speakers contains the names of seven “extremist clerics”.

By way of example he picks out one:

The Sheikh claims the toleration of homosexuality is a sign of social regression:
 
“For those who have been around for a little bit longer than those who are eighteen or nineteen, look at how this own society and culture has evolved in the way it looks at homosexuals. In our own time, I remember as a kid in the eighties, which gives you an idea how old I was, growing up in the eighties I grew up, OK? I remember how homosexuals were looked down upon and the names that were given to these people, and how disgusted the average masses were with that segment of society. Now look, now look at how we have regressed, not progressed.”
 
http://tifrib.com/yasir-qadhi/
 
He says Jews control Islamic studies and want to destroy Muslims:
 
“You go to America, you find that 95% of the Islamic Studies professors are Jews, you know that? 95% of Islamic Studies [sic] are Jews. And 0% of Judaic Studies [sic] are Muslims. I am not advising any Muslim to waste his time studying Judaism but I’m saying, why are Jews studying Islam? There is a reason, not that they want to help us, they want to destroy us […] they want to bring about doubts, look at the doubts that exist, look at the divisions, the discord, look at the disunity, look at all these ideologies that are being spread (4). Know that the Yahood [Jews] and the Kuffar [Infidels] like this type of thing.”

Also on the list of speakers (the first name on the list, in fact) is Lutfur Rahman (who is not an extremist cleric). Actually, Lutfur was given star billing at the end of the conference, speaking this evening just after a Saudi princess.

So you can understand just why it was so important for his deputy, Ohid Ahmed, to drag himself off his deathbed and head to the West End hotel (by cab, I wonder…)

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This will be submitted by the Labour group to the full meeting of Tower Hamlets council on November 27:

Motion on Centenary of WW1

Proposer: Cllr Sirajul Islam

Seconder: Cllr Rachael Saunders

This Council Notes:

–       That 2014 will mark the centenary of World War One.

–       As time passes the personal memory of this event diminishes.

–       This was the first major conflict of the modern era in which civillain communities were attacked and this included Londoners.

–       Remembrance Sunday represents a unique and important point each year where we commemorate all of those who have and continue to fight for our country, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

–       We should also note the sacrifice and suffering of civilian communities.

This Council Believes:

–       It is important to our sense of community and legacy that the memory and knowledge of those events is never lost.

–       It is an important part of our cultural heritage to remember and share in the great history of our country and the contribution of East Enders.

–       That an appreciation of the decisions of the past gives us a better understanding of the world.

–       That the centenary presents an opportunity to share in collective commemoration of the role of East End communities.

This Council resolves:

–       To note the contribution and sacrifice of East Enders, both as civilians and as members of our and our allies Armed Forces.

–       To call upon the Speaker of the Council to work with the Head of Paid Service to organise a high profile commemorative event for next year’s World War One centenary.

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