Welcome to Tower Hamlets

by Esmerelda Weatherwax (September 2011)

Why I am going to Tower Hamlets on Saturday.

I am of an old East End family. We define the East End as the three old boroughs of Bethnal Green, Stepney and Poplar which since 1965 make up the current London Borough of Tower Hamlets, plus that area of Shoreditch around Shoreditch Church which since 1965 is part of the London Borough of Hackney. Although my mother was born in Hoxton (which is adjacent to, but not part of, the East End) where my grandfather had a market stall, her parents were born in Bethnal Green as were all of my father’s family. My cousins and I have traced many lines of our families back to the 18thcentury. We span 4 centuries and 10 generations in the area, at least. Welcome to my ancestoral homeland.

The East End encompassed London docks which meant that people have always arrived from all over the world and many settled nearby. Just in the relatively small circle of my own family history, through blood, marriage, kinship or family friendship I know of Irish, Welsh, Italian, Scottish, Jewish, Polish and Russian, French Huguenot, Indian, West Indian and Yorkshire. Every group that came to the East End brought their own customs. The Huguenot influence can be seen in our love of bright colours of clothing and the flowers of our little gardens, even if the only garden available was a yard or a veranda. The Jewish influence is famous and goes far beyond the food and the delicatessens (and bread). Limehouse was Chinatown for many years although it is now in Gerrard Street W1. They integrated while giving us the best of their culture. Until recent years. 

Sylheti speaking seamen from the nation now called Bangladesh came through the docks even before the Second World War. During the war a mosque opened along Whitechapel Road for their use and that of other Muslims. From the late 1960s onwards more came and brought their families. But they didn’t integrate. The East London Mosque now covers the whole block between Plumbers Row and the Whitechapel Bell Foundry to the east, New Street to the west, Whitechapel Road to the north and Fieldgate Street to the south, other than the small and valiant Great Fieldgate Street Synagogue which the mosque covets but cannot have.

It isn’t the size of the Mosque complex (they are now building upwards, nine floors and counting) which is cause for concern, however, but the nature of their speakers and preachers, the malign influence of the Islamic Forum of Europe, the corruption of local politics and the imposition of Sharia law. The Telegraph Journalist Andrew Gilligan chronicles this regularly.

The following are a few the reasons why the English Defence League will be rallying in Tower Hamlets next week. The Home Secretary Theresa May, at the request of the Metropolitan Police, acting under the orders of the notorious Lutfur Rahman, the Mayor (for elected mayor, read Islamic dictator) has banned any march for a month through 5 London boroughs, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest, Hackney and Islington. So the demonstration will be a static one, which is our democratic right from which we cannot be banned.

Imposition of a Sharia controlled Zone.


I photographed these in Ford Square and nearby Sidney Street.

The treatment of Women

The hijab is near universal. The niqab is imposed on women in greater numbers than in Bangladesh itself.

In April a pharmacy assistant, not a Muslim and married to a Christian was threatened, as was the chemist shop where she worked under Hindu management, if she did not adopt a veil and Islamic dress code. “If she keeps working here and continues to dress like that, then we will boycott you because this is a Muslim area,” the chemist’s owner was told. 

Advertising posters for swimming costumes have had burkas painted on to them. The same young man responsible for some of the anti gay stickers we spotted in October last year, about which more later, has also been convicted of criminal damage to advertising hoardings. But he is not alone. 

The niqab is imposed as compulsory school uniform on girls as young as 11 at the Madani Islamic girls school in Mrydle Street behind the East London Mosque. I witnessed a young girl tearing off the face covering as she turned the corner of the road when I was there last year. At the time I thought she was waiting until she was out of sight of the mosque; I now suspect she was hurrying out of sight of her school.

I photographed these women entering and leaving the pupil's gate of the school before the summer holiday began in July. Inset top left, the school address.

I can only conclude that this arrangement below which I photographed in Poplar in July is designed to allow the women of this ground floor flat to reach the veils and other garments just visible on the washing line at the far left above the curtains without having to don a previously laundered niqab before venturing into the sunshine.

These incidents do not stand alone. Others can be found by searching my blog articles going back to 2006.

Treatment of gays.

The most obvious example is the declaration, some months prior to the Sharia Controlled Zone, that Tower Hamlets is a “Gay Free Zone” My daughter spotted this sticker left at the Aldgate end of Whitechapel in October, and right in Sidney Street in August.

In 15 years the number of gay pubs in the borough has declined from flourishing to three. They have been targeted for harrassment and intimidation.

Even at council meeting supporters of the aforementioned Lutfur Rahman hurled homophobic abuse at opposition councillors, one openly gay, the other Jewish. 

The Islamic Forum of Europe regularly hosts preachers whose preaching includes such teaching aids as the “Spot the Fag” contest.

A Gay Pride march against the Gay Free Zone campaign did not take place as proposed. The excuse given was alleged links by one of the organisers to the EDL. 

Treatment of Jews

There are very few Jews left in the East End; most have moved into the general East End diaspora in Essex. As I said above a Jewish councillor is regularly abused, even during council meetings. The East London Mosque would love to get its hands on the land occupied by the Great Fieldgate Street Synagogue .

In 2008 Jewish tourists on a walking tour of the historic East End were pelted with stones and abuse by ‘Asian Youths’ with a ‘narrow religious view’. This made the national press but I gather that it was not an isolated incident.

In 2005 the then MP, black and Jewish Oona King was attending a memorial service to commemorate 60 years since the Hughes Mansions Disaster in Bethnal Green, when 134 people, almost all Jewish, were killed by the last V2 missile to land on London. ‘Youths’ pelted her and mourners with eggs and rotten vegetables. 

To quote one of the ‘youth’ “We all hate her. She comes here with her Jewish friends who are killing our people and then they come to our back yards. It is out of order. What do they expect?”

The ‘youth’ were believed at the time to be supporters of George Galloway who was later elected MP for the constituency, saying after the election that he owes more(of his election) to the Islamic Forum of Europe ‘than it would be wise to admit’.

In 2009 following Israeli action in Gaza a petrol bomb was hurled at Starbucks in Whitechapel and Tesco’s stores and delivery vans were attacked. “Kill Jews” was daubed on a children’s playground at the Chicksand estate.

Treatment of Christians and Christianity

Attempted Murder of English Christian RE Teacher

Gary Smith, Head of Religious Studies at my cousin’s old school, Central Foundation Girls' School in Bow, was attacked by four Muslim men, (already under surveillance suspected of a terrorism plot) because 'He's mocking Islam and he’s putting doubts in people's minds…How can somebody take a job to teach Islam when they’re not even a Muslim themselves? . . . This is the dog we want to hit, to strike, to kill.’

Attacks on historic churches, Christian clergy and congregations.

In 2008 Canon Ainsworth of St Georges in the East Shadwell was beaten seriously enough to merit time in hospital after he asked some ‘Asian youth’ to behave.

The church had previously been targeted when a brick smashed a window during a service. Allan Ramanoop, a member of the parochial church council, said: “On one occasion, youths shouted: ‘This should not be a church, this should be a mosque, you should not be here. The youths are anti-Christian. It’s terrible what they have done to Canon Ainsworth’. 

The boy convicted walked free 

This summer ‘youths’ put parents and children in fear at a toddlers sports day at the Montessori nursery at St George’s. 

St George’s in the East is a 17thcentury Hawksmoor (pupil and colleague of Sir Christopher Wren) church. When we visited in August all was peaceful at midday during Ramadan; just one elderly Asian man having a quiet smoke between the gravestones. But there was graffiti.




Also in 2008 the Rector of St Matthew’s in Bethnal Green was assaulted by three youths he had asked not to bend the churchyard Cross out of shape and use it as a basketball hoop. This was not the first time they had abused him and he described a history of religious and racist taunts.

St Dunstan’s Stepney above is much older. You will know it as one of the churches of Oranges and Lemons. The visible fabric is mediaeval but the foundation dates back to the time of St Dunstan himself when he was Bishop of London in the 10thcentury. The church suffers vandalism regularly. This is video footage shot by a local man showing some of it. At the time of my visit in July a cleaning programme was coming to an end and most of it had been scrubbed off.

One door remained (above) showing the 'tag' of the culprits – the 'Stepney Massive'. Massive what I don't know, massive ignorance I fear. Either this wouldn't come off, or this door was the next task.

The damage suffered by churches led the East London Advertiser to start a campaign to protect them saying, “Too often, religious leaders said last week, vandalism against churches was treated as just that, 'vandalism', but similar graffiti on mosque properties is treated as 'faith hate crime'. There is a feeling among many that the authorities treat churches with less importance.”

Unfortunately the campaign went quiet very quickly although to their credit the reporters continue to report incidents like that against the Montessori.

Whatever happens outside this still remains as powerful as ever inside St Dunstans. The original east window was destroyed in the blitz. This window was put up in the 1950s and depicts at the foot of the cross what Stepney outside looked like after the destruction.

One of the legends about St Dunstan is that he was taunted by Satan, who he sent packing by tweaking his nose with the blacksmiths tongs he was using at the time. A saint who could do that isn't going to be fazed in the long run by a bunch of fake (c)rappers on pushbikes. 

The arson at the Gurdwara Sikh Sanget

The person or persons responsible for an attack on a Sikh temple in 2009 have never been apprehended and I cannot find any record of the exact content of the ‘racist graffiti’ that appeared on the temple in the weeks before the attack. Witnesses described a stranger they saw moments before the fire as being ‘black or mixed race’. Had he been white, or had the graffiti been attributable to an English group, I am sure we would have heard much more about it. There is no proof that it was an islamically motivated attack like those on the churches or against Jews but I suspect that is the case.

The Gurdwara Sikh Sangat in Bow was originally a Christian chapel which then became a Synagogue. Its use as a Sikh temple was the next task in its history of worshiping the Almighty.

The London Evening Standard reported thus:-

Witnesses today said a man had been run into the temple during a women-only prayer session then escaped just before flames were first seen. Having spotted the intruder, the 10 women quickly discovered the fire, which had taken hold in one of the holiest parts of the temple. They tried to put it out but were beaten back by the flames.

Witnesses described the suspected arsonist as being black or mixed-race. Most of the temple's roof collapsed and worshippers fear all but one of its eight holy books were destroyed.

Thankfully nobody was killed but their Holy and sacred Scripture is very important to Sikhs and its destruction was a heavy blow to the congregation.

A small selection of attacks on individuals

2009 – Fieldgate Street. A  gang of Asian youth beat and racially abused four black men who had challenged them about breaking into parked cars, including their own.

2007 Central Criminal Court Old Bailey

Sodrul Islam, 23, Delwar Hussain, 21, and Mamoon Hussain, 20, were found guilty of attempted murder for an attack on John Payne, 33. Up to 30 Asians set upon the victim and his friends for drinking in a pub on the Clichy estate in Stepney, which the gang considered to be their turf. They shouted insults including “white honkies” at the five people who dared to walk through.  

Mr Payne was then felled with a machete and the gang repeatedly punched and kicked him as he lay helpless on the ground. The gang continued as Mr Payne's sobbing girlfriend tried to shield him. He suffered a severe fracture of his head and bone fragments penetrated his brain.

Those attackers caught and convicted were sentenced to 18 years imprisonment. There were up to 30 men in the gang; the rest are still at large.  Mr Payne now suffers from epilepsy. 

Kill the Brits – ‘hostile and horrible’vandalism of memorial to civilian dead of the Blitz.

Reported in the Daily Mail two weeks ago. The memorial, of a dove of peace, is by a local artist who has herself been threatened.

‘Anyone walking along the path in front of the park would have noticed that the front of the memorial was covered in Asian names and what appeared to be the tags of Asian gangs,’ the resident said. ‘This part of London is a multi-racial area so in a way you would expect that. You would think it was just the work of local kids. But what passers-by didn’t see was the vandalism and the graffiti on the side facing the river. Some people felt it was clearly racist – and it did include phrases such as “Kill the Brits”

I took the picture above in June last year before the damage took hold. The War Memorial in St Dunstan’s churchyard has to be similarly protected.

Consolidation of Islamic territory.

Once territory is held by Islam it is considered forever the property of Islam. Hence the desire to reclaim the Balkans and Andalusia. To show how the East End is being claimed to be Islamic forever a picture says 1000 words.

Street signs and public notices are permanently in Bengali; the words in Latin alphabet bottom left are Somali. I have no idea what they mean, but the sign is not meant for such as I.

As my daughter said about the Shapla school gates (left), they are cute, friendly and cheerful and the water lily, national flower of Bengal, is beautiful. But how will they learn English and to be English if everything they see harks back to Bangladesh? Not to mention those children who have come here from elsewhere anyway.

The Huguenot presence gave rise to street names like Rochelle Street and the Clichy estate, the Chinese presence in Limehouse gave us Pekin Street, the Jewish presence gave us Adler Street, named after Nathan Marcus Adler Chief Rabbi of the British Empire until his death in 1890. So logically Masjid Lane E14 leading to the Burdett Estate Mosque should be regarded as just a modern example of immigration into the East End. Oh, that it were.

Lutfur Rahman and his team on Tower Hamlets Council received a payment of £8million, what we of the old east End would call a ‘sweetener’, the largest of its kind ever, from the developers of the new Spitalfields project for granting permission for that project. Some of the money went on a minaret for the Brick Lane Mosque. They say it is a sculpture shaped like a minaret. It cannot be attached to the mosque as that is a listed building having been originally a church, then a synagogue. But if it is outside a mosque, looks like a minaret, (albeit one made out of oil drums) has a crescent  moon and star on top and the name of the mosque at the bottom, I reckon it’s a minaret.

The project to place arches shaped like hijabs at either end of Brick Lane was thwarted by the outrage the suggestion provoked. The current arch at the entrance to Brick Lane (well known for its collection of curry restaurants) is in secular Bengali style. The area is promoted to curry fans as Banglatown and there was a campaign (which was resisted, so has gone quiet thankfully) to have one of the nearby stations of London Underground, Aldgate or Aldgate East renamed Banglatown.

Whitechapel gets its name from the 13thcentury White Chapel dedicated to St Mary Matfelon. The church was rebuilt several times in its history until destroyed by bombing in December 1940. The site became a park, known as St Mary’s Park. In 1998 it was renamed Altab Ali Park after a young Bangladeshi man who was the victim of a racist murder 20 years previously. It was a dreadful crime but there have been many murder victims in Whitechapel who have not been so honoured.

The park now contains a copy of the Shaheed Minar in Dhaka, symbolising a mother and her martyred sons. There are other Bengali symbols around and about. On the positive side there is some archaeological work going on to ‘bring the historyof the area to the surface’ and help local people see the park in a new way.

These below are a sample of stickers and posters on Islamic, pro Sharia themes. Left stickers seen on the Burdett estate in Poplar, right an admonition to not vote (also seen around Leyton) seen on the corner of Christian Street opposite the Markazi Masjid run by Tablighi Jamaat on the site which housed the Commercial Road Talmud Torah Synagogue until that congregation moved to Essex.

And the tag Taliban E1 which was scrawled all down Cable Street last month, over the remains of St Pauls Mission and school which is being demolished and into Grace’s Alley where it had been used to vandalise the historic Wiltons Music Hall, the oldest surviving in the world.

The opposition to islamisation and sharia has got the authorities and Islamics worried. They allowed no viable opposition to the conference of Hizb ut Tahir in Whitechapel in July. These photographs below are courtesy of Fluffy who was able to get relatively close to events that day.

The Bromley 15 were arrested on suspicion of possibly contemplating a potential breach of the peace in a pub some distance from the conference. Other patriots were arrested for a similar potential thought crime from the Salmon and Ball pub above, also some distance away. Fluffy's photographs give an idea of the number of police used to arrest a few calm individuals.

This is the UAF view. Tommy Robinson = Anders Breivik.

The ban on marches for one month from 2ndSeptember has angered leftist groups who don’t think they should be included in the ban. They intend to march on 2ndOctober with communist and Bangladeshi groups to celebrate the 75thanniversary of the Battle of Cable Street which they have hijacked from the indigenous East Enders. I wrote here last year about the mural in Cable Street and how I thought it demonised the good guys, ie the ordinary East End people, almost as much as it did the villains, the Nazis and capitalists. This is my father’s story of that day, confirmed by my uncle who is still alive, but frail.

In 1936 my father was among the thousands who stood against the Blackshirts of fascism. Next week I intend to be among the thousands standing against the black flags of jihad and sharia. They shall not pass.


Photographs by E Weatherwax, Susan Sto Helit and Fluffy.

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