So Why Tower Hamlets? This is Why.
by Esmerelda Weatherwax (September 2013)
So why Tower Hamlets?
That is the rhetorical question asked by one “Jo Makepeace” writing in Indymedia about the EDL’s forthcoming demonstration in Tower Hamlets on 7th September. Now there may genuinely be a lady christened Josephine by her loving parents Mr and Mrs Makepeace. But Jo Makepeace is also the persona of a group of left-wingers based in Brighton.
As he/she/it/they have asked the question these are some of the reasons. The reasons for the previous demo in 2011 I detailed here; what can be added over the last two years is below.
Islam in Tower Hamlets is a many-headed beast, but with two main necks; the corruption of the Muslim dominated borough council led by Grand Vizier Lutfur Rahman and the malign influence of the East London Mosque and satellite organisations.
Let us start with the
East London Mosque
Physically it continues to grow. The Maryam Centre for the women opened in July. The women’s entrance next to the men’s on the main drag of Whitechapel Road is now closed. Women are directed to enter their segregated space - where they belong - down the side street and round the back.
The mosque is now 9 floors high. It may be able to go higher still. It can’t go wider unless it crosses the street.
It may have reached its physical limits on that site but it certainly isn’t idle in propaganda.
Hate preachers and undesirable conferences.
In 2007 the ELM hosted Abdul Karim Hattin’s now notorious Spot the Fag contest, detailed in Channel 4 Dispatches Undercover Mosque. After criticism, including the business I wrote of in 2010 regarding the Gay Free Zone the mosque declared that never again would they allow a homophobic speaker a platform.
Sadly this did not last long. A few objectionable speakers were sidelined to the Waterlily, the conference centre on Mile End Road. Then gradually they crept back into the mosque.
On 29th December 2012 they hosted Ibrahim Hewitt, fundraising for Interpal the finance arm of Hamas. He has written, and so far as I am told has never repudiated, that apostates, adulterers and sexually active gays should suffer the death penalty. Murtaza Khan says something similar, as does Hamza Tortis; they gave lectures on the 21st and 16th of December 2013.
Then only last month on 27th July the ELM hosted a meeting of the group Cage Prisoners, who campaign for those arrested and convicted in relation to terrorist offences and were supporters of the deceased Al Qaeda preacher, Anwar Al Awlaki. The main speaker was Shakeel Begg who is on record as encouraging students at Kingston upon Thames University to wage jihad by going to Palestine to fight the Zionists. There are all sorts of links to his speeches here in Andrew Gilligan’s blog in The Telegraph.
This sort of atmosphere was the ideal breeding ground for the incidents that took place in the streets around the mosque in January.
As reported by the East London Advertiser on 18th January 2013, not to be confused with a similar series of incidents in Leyton during 2012.
The video shows a self-styled ‘Muslim patrol’ approaching people in Fieldgate Street, close to the East London Mosque. Members of the patrol announce themselves to passers-by as “vigilantes implementing Islam against your own necks”.
“We are Muslims who patrol the area, forbidding evil”, they can be heard saying.
One passer-by is told to “remove yourself away from the mosque”.
They tell others: “Go away now. Don’t come back. Keep your mouths closed.”
Responding to a woman who condemns their actions, the vigilantes can be heard saying: “We don’t care if you’re appalled at all. It’s not so Great Britain.”
Then this video (below) emerged of the gang harassing a young man they decided was gay.
The ELM condemed it. Well they would wouldn’t they?
The police set out to identify the young man who was taunted and arrests were made. But charges?
Court appearances? Convictions? Punishment?
No. Or not yet.
Why not? We don’t know.
In April a citizen’s request under the Freedom of Information Act for an update on the situation was answered thus.
Q1. None of the arrested persons calling themselves "Muslim Patrol" have been charged as investigations still continue.
Q2. No prosecutions as investigations still continue.
Q3. There is no outcome yet as investigations still continue.
We do have one name. Ben Holt writing for the Planet Ivy publishing platform attempted to interview one Royal Barnes, who answered a request via the Muslim patrol youtube account but unconvincingly denied any involvement in the patrol, although he agreed with their initiative.
Royal Barnes, aka Musa Barnes, is now in custody awaiting trial charged with dissemination of terrorist publications for allegedly making a series of recordings about Drummer Rigby's death on May 22, and circulating them 'with the intention, either directly or indirectly of encouraging others into the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism'.
He is also charged with encouraging an act of terrorism by publishing a statement that glorified the killing, and inciting terrorism overseas.
Rebekah Dawson, his woman, is on bail charged with the encouragement of terrorism, relating to two of the same videos as Barnes, and the dissemination of terrorist publications. A plea and case management hearing was set for 22nd November.
A fish rots from the head down
According to the 2011 census the population of Tower Hamlets is, overall, 35% Muslim which makes them the largest religious group. Ethnically they are mainly Bengali and Somali. Therefore it seems a little lacking in diversity for every member of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets Cabinet to be a Bangladesi Muslim (or to be strictly accurate have a name of Bangladeshi and Muslim origin)
They have a few more things in common – expensive tastes.
Lutfur loves his limo. From the East London Advertiser.
Officers from Tower Hamlets Council have been asking neighbouring boroughs how much they spend on chauffeurs for Mayors – only to be told they never use them. Newham swiftly responded to inform its neighbouring local authority that its Mayor, Sir Robin Wales, did not use chauffeurs – unlike his counterpart Lutfur Rahman.
Newham’s cabinet member for finance Cllr Lester Hudson put the request down to an attempt by Tower Hamlets Council to justify its expenditure on a £70 per day Mercedes for Mayor Rahman.
“We do not see it as appropriate for public money to be used to provide our Mayor with chauffeurs, limousines or to pay their associated costs,” he said. “Abusing freedom of information requests in this way means not only do Tower Hamlets residents pay to chauffeur Mayor Rahman around, they also pay for council officers who have been asked to defend the indefensible.”
Creativity really is her (Khan’s) forte, there’s no doubt about that. How else to explain a cab fare of £120.63 for a 1.5 mile trip from the Town Hall in Mulberry Place to Mile End Park on March 28 last year? As the Tories point out, the 277 bus would have taken her there directly…in 15 minutes. For £1.35.
Rania Khan, Minister for Culture used to have a flamboyant taste in weapons, but a poor grasp of the English language. “This is wat i m takin about. I knw its not lady like, but i luv my weapons.” She has to present as a more demure pious Muslima these days, but her English is not improved. ....'Hey really i aint dat violent just don't lik pple taking the piss!'
There are suggestions of favouritism in provision of housing services. The ELA again
Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman has been accused of prioritising wards represented by his supporters in work to improve housing standards.
More than half of works completed under the government’s Decent Homes Programme since the 2010 election have been carried out in areas mainly represented by Independent councillors supportive of the mayor, the opposition Labour group has warned.
In contrast, the number of homes to benefit from improvements in wards represented by Labour is far lower.
In Whitechapel – which is represented by three Independent councillors - 724 homes benefitted from work between 2010 and January this year. But in Bow West – former Labour group leader Cllr Joshua Peck’s ward – only seven homes had work done on them in the two-and-a-half year period.
Other wards in which a high number of homes received works include Shadwell and St Dunstan’s and Stepney Green.
Left a propaganda sticker, one of many seen around Whitechapel.
This is denied of course. Then there are the Muslim organisations getting the lion’s share of the Faith building grants as reported in the ELA at the end of July.
Muslim organisations received more than twice as much public cash as those representing any other religion in the first batch of grants for maintenance of places of worship, it has emerged.
A freedom of information request revealed that 25 Muslims organisations have received a total of £378,000 from the £595,000 dished out. In comparison, 12 Christian groups were handed £140,000 - with the rest of the grants distributed between a total of six Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist organisations.
Grants were allocated by Tower Hamlets Council after it invited religious groups to apply for funding in November last year in a bid to improve places of worship in the borough.
Census figures from 2011 reveal that Islam is the most widely practiced religion in the borough, with 34 per cent of the population identifying themselves as Muslim.
Funding was awarded to organisations for maintenance works including for new carpets, sinks and window repairs.
Tower Hamlets Council had announced plans to stage an event at All Saints Church in Stepney High Street today to mark the second round of grants for improvements to the borough’s faith buildings. But a spokeswoman said only “a couple” of groups responded to invites sent out before the launch, prompting its cancellation.
Short notice of the event may have been to blame, she added.
A £2million cash pot was announced last year for improvements to places of worship. The first £595,000 was allocated to 43 organisations earlier this year – with Muslim groups receiving twice as much money as those representing any other religion. A further £1.3m is up for grabs when the second round of funding is eventually launched.
There are a lot more abuses of position and power detailed by Andrew Gilligan here. The only other one I want to mention is the potential sale of Old Flo. Her proper name is Draped Seated Woman and she is a sculpture by the world renowned artist Henry Moore. She was sculpted in bronze just after the war inspired by the Blitz spirit, and until 1997, she sat outside a block of flats on the Stifford estate in Stepney. She was either given to the London County Council (LCC, the forerunner of the Greater London Authority) by Moore or sold to them at a nominal price, for the benefit of the people of London whose courage was her inspiration.
After the Stifford estate was demolished the statue went as a temporary measure to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. But now Lutfur Rahman wants her sold and the money raised put towards council spending. There are those who think she isn’t his to sell. She belongs to us, the people of London (especially those of us whose east end grandmother was called Flo). Bromley Council has made a claim – based on the original gift/sale to the LCC, not any specific east End borough (Stepney, Bethnal Green or Poplar) as they were at that time.
Queen Mary College in Mile End Road has offered to home the statue in the public area of the University, and to insure her. Rahman maintained that the bronze content is an unacceptable and uninsurable security risk. The Museum of Docklands has made a similar offer, as have the Banking Gnomes of Canary Wharf. If she doesn’t return to Tower Hamlets she must return to somewhere in London, not disappear into a private collection.
Outside the confines of the East London Mosque and the Town Hall
Lutfur Luvs Len
Lutfur Rahman and Len McCluskey head of the Unite Union, seem to have a bit of a bromance going.
It’s costing Lutfur a lot of money and it isn’t going on sweeties. Lutfur has given Unite £64,000 worth of funding to run a Unite
Recruiting office Community centre in Shadwell in the old St George’s Town Hall. That’s the one with the Battle of Cable Street Mural on the side wall. Ted Jeory of the Express has the details here. He wonders whether this deal between Len and Lutfur is part of some pro-Galloway plan.
Anjem Choudary’s rich elder brother Yazdani, he of the sharia printing works and the sharia training centre, has a new money making wheeze – a chain of sharia plugging halal sweet shops called Yummy-Yummy. He has even got Abu Izadeen working behind the counter. The Sun photographed him (left) in July.
I wasn’t quite quick enough below (opposite the New Road branch)– he and his mate dived back inside. If ever there was a warning to children not to take sweets from strange men this is it.
The Neo Puritans
Pubs are shutting down all over the country for various reasons and East London is no exception. The Student Bar was always a place a young adult could get a reasonably priced drink on a night out. This didn’t happen in the end, probably because of the uproar that ensued. From the London Evening Standard.
A London university could ban the sale of alcohol from parts of its campus because some students consider it to be “immoral”. Malcolm Gillies, vice chancellor of London Metropolitan University (which has a campus in Whitechapel) said he was considering the move because a “high percentage” of his students see alcohol as “negative”.
Speaking at the Association of University Administrators’ annual conference, Professor Gillies said he was “not a great fan of alcohol on campus” and added that the issue was one of “cultural sensitivity”. He said of alcohol: “It’s a negative experience — in fact an immoral experience — for a high percentage of our students.” Speaking to the Standard he said he was considering replacing one of the bars on campus with a coffee shop.
Then there is this from the BBC about one of the last Gay pubs in Tower Hamlets.
For the East End's gay community, the White Swan pub is something of a local legend. . . for 26 years it has hosted a weekly amateur comedy strip contest. That night, compered by a cast of east London's most flamboyant drag queens, sees volunteers from the audience take part in the show.
But it faces being banned following Labour-led Tower Hamlet council's recent sex establishment consultation. The council has proposed to enforce new legislation which would allow it to close venues which offer lap-dancing, pole-dancing or strip tease.
But more than 600 of the pub's regulars and local residents have signed a petition saying the White Swan, in Commercial Road, should be excluded from the consultation as "there is no prostitution or exploitation on the premises".
The petition was presented at a council meeting on 29 November to independent councillor Rania Khan, who has been leading the campaign to shut strip clubs
Daryl Stafford, 49, from Shadwell, in east London, who organised the petition, said: "The legislation was originally set up to stop women being exploited and coerced into the sex trade. But there are no women involved in this…men only … voluntary “
Councillor Peter Golds, leader of the Conservative group at Tower Hamlets, who supports the petition, said: "I, like most reasonably minded people, have concerns about scantily clad women being exploited. But consenting adults looking for a laugh, a joke and comedy is not exploitation. It's fun. It's introduced by drag artists. It could probably be at any hen night in the country," he added.
When asked if he thought that including the venue in the consultation was homophobic, he said: "I think it is. It's in an area of which there are groups of people with particularly hard-line views on sexual minorities."
Mr Stafford agreed saying: "It certainly feels like it's extremely homophobic. It feels as though it's because it's a gay venue and there are a lot of people on the council who do not approve of having a gay venue in the middle of their borough."
Tower Hamlets has denied these allegations.
The pub still operates and advertises it music nights on its website. But I understand that its position isn’t secure and when I passed on the bus last week the windows were shuttered, the rainbow flag and the posters of the artistes had gone. They are obviously having to be very circumspect.
Most towns and cities in England have alcohol restricted zones, within which alcohol cannot be consumed outdoors. For all that our traditional pubs are closing by the dozen every month the sale of cheaper drinks in supermarkets and corner shops means that unsupervised drinking can be a problem. So the existence of Alcohol Free Zones in Tower Hamlets is nothing exceptional, other than that residents of my acquaintance tell me that they believe the zones to have been brought in on flimsier excuses than elsewhere in the country. But one stimulant not forbidden by Islam is very popular. That is the East African plant khat, which is chewed in cafes called, by Somalis, marfish. At one point it seemed to me rather hypocritical of many London councils that at the same time as the traditional English pub was being pushed into decline these marfish, and all the problems relating to overuse of khat, were being allowed to flourish. Khat is illegal in the USA, Canada and most countries of Western Europe.
I am told that small fortunes were made from the import of these leaves which were flown in daily from Nairobi and Addis Ababa. General stores would sell it, legally, amongst the other exotic vegetables. It could be chewed in marfish under or above the shop where the men (always men; like prayer, women do it at home) would chew and chat for hours, while served water and sweet tea to quench the thirst that khat engenders. The Guardian describes such a café and the problems associated with khat use here.
Then earlier this summer after much petitioning of the Home Secretary, importation and use of khat was made illegal. It is said that the marfish in the Woolwich area have been used to radicalise young men, some of whom may have been connected with the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby. I have now been told that some East End Somali and Yemeni users are angry about the ban and believe that this is the action of stern Bengalis at the ELM who want to discipline them into better mosque attendance and prayer.
I don’t know – I’m just a drinker of beer in moderation.
The Good News
On the tip of the Isle of Dogs, the area of Poplar better known these days as Docklands, is a small park called Island Gardens. Canaletto painted his famous view of the Greenwich Naval College with the River Thames in the foreground from that point. In the mid-19th century, as the London Docks were being built, the Greenwich Royal Hospital Commissioner bought the site to protect the view. It was laid out as a park by the LCC in 1895 for the benefit of local people; in a heavily built up area it is an oasis of green.
An application was made for a ‘community centre’ to be built on a plot at the NE of the park with the major focus on people of the Muslim faith, in particular for prayer, religious instruction and mother tongue instruction, with a women’s area so that seminars and life skills can be delivered to “women who would usually shy away due to the presence of men.” For all intents and purposes this is a mosque.
Objections were made from historians, garden societies and local residents including the local Parish Church.
But the Dean of Christchurch and St Luke’s on the Isle of Dogs called for those behind the request to “be honest” about what the building would really be used for.
“These groups who use our churches for prayer meetings want them five times a day and I can’t say yes,” the Rev Tom Pyle told the launch. “They’re going to crowd out any other use for the building because in winter the first prayer is 8.30am and the last at 4pm. No other use is going to be possible because it squeezes out other activities like youth clubs or coffee mornings. This application is about prayer space. The centre simply becomes a place where that group has to monopolise — I think they should be honest about that.”
2000 letters of objection and a petition were sent to the council. Local people launched a group called Friends of Island Gardens. The day before their first formal meeting the Islamic Group, whose name is not in the public domain, withdrew the application. The Friends of Island Gardens will now concentrate their efforts on improving the park even more – they propose a water fountain and public toilets. Having enjoyed the excellent facilities of the nearby Caribbean Kitchen tea room I think public toilets are a very sound idea.
Leader of the Conservative group at Tower Hamlets Council, Peter Golds, who is one the founders of Friends of Island Garden, said: “I’m delighted we’ve established a group to look after and enhance Island Gardens." He said he was not opposed to the building on religious grounds. “But equally why should there be religious buildings on public ground with separate entrances for men and women —that is not very inclusive,” he said.
The Arrests at Aldgate Pump
I wrote here in early July about Tommy Robinson and Kev Carroll’s sponsored walk from Westminster to Woolwich to raise money for the Neuroblastoma Cancer Alliance. The intention was to walk from Hyde Park, through the City of London, through East London following slightly inland to the north bank of the River Thames, then to enter Woolwich via the famous Woolwich Ferry. Unfortunately the police stopped the walk and arrested Tommy and Kev at Aldgate Station, yards from Aldgate Pump the traditional marker between the City and the East End.
They were eventually released on bail to return to the police station on 21st August. On that day the police wanted to continue to impose the condition that neither approach the London Borough of Tower Hamlets until the 11th September. When Tommy Robinson refused to accept this condition he was taken back into custody. However an application to a Judge resulted in his release with a condition which will allow him and Kev Carroll to attend the EDL event on the 7th September.
Opposition to the EDL demonstration of 7th September.
50 or so of the usual suspects, the Axis of Evil that is the alliance of Islam and the left with a couple of useful idiots thrown in, wrote to the Home Secretary last week. Headed by Lutfur and Len there is one Synagogue elder and one Church of England clergyman, who strangely is not one of those priests assaulted in their churchyard, or whose church has been threatened and vandalised over the last few years. Note that they don't say that the EDL will cause violence, rather that any violence will be caused by others!
We, the undersigned call on the home secretary, Theresa May, to ban the English Defence League's proposed march in Tower Hamlets on 7 September. . . we have real fears that the EDL presence will act as a catalyst for further violence, disorder and destruction of property.
The UAF and Antifa are planning a campaign of leafleting at tube stations and football matches (good luck with that one ladies) and a peace convoy of an open topped bus accompanied by vans and motorcycles driving through London during the weekend of the 31st/1st. The English Disco Lovers have been asked to perform. I hope to catch them dancing ‘Don’t hate – Gyrate’ while they go round Gardeners Corner on the back of a Honda 90.
A dozen or so of these charming stickers are on lamp-posts around Cable Street and Whitechapel, including Altab Ali Park which they hope to commandeer for their rally.
But there will be some notable apologies for absence. As the London Evening Standard reported on Wednesday 28th August, many of Tower Hamlet’s Labour party will not be ‘bashing the fash’ on the 7th. They will be at a family barbeque.
Yummy yummy even.
As I finalise this article (31st August) the representatives of Tower Hamlets Labour party say it is an evening barbeque so, of course, they will be on the streets during the afternoon. However they, or the newspaper, still seem very confused as to which weekend they are required.
Never mind, just save us a sausage and we will be round
Discussions with the police about the route, destination etc are on-going. Because the Police did not immediately obey the Grand Vizier's order (unlike his his minions at the Town Hall who do obey him) that they ask the Home Secretary for a ban, the worthies of Tower Hamlets are threatening legal action. From the ELA.
Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s office tonight confirmed the last ditch attempt to stop the march from going ahead as planned next Saturday (September 7).
Mayor Lutfur Rahman said: “I’m deeply disappointed that the police and the home secretary have failed to act, despite my formally requesting them to do so. Clearly they are not on the same page as the scores of prominent national and local figures who joined me in calling for a ban. I call upon them to see sense, but in the absence of an adequate response I intend to take this matter to the High Court.”
...sources at the town hall saying it was looking increasingly likely that the march would be given the go ahead.
Police said earlier a decision on whether to apply to the home secretary to ban the event is not likely to be reached until early next week. A police application is necessary in order for Theresa May to step in.
A press release from Lutfur this morning.
The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, announced today that the council is preparing for a judicial review of the Metropolitan Police’s failure to exercise its power to apply to the Home Secretary for prohibition of the proposed racist march by the English Defence League (EDL) in Tower Hamlets on 7 September.
The Mayor said "“We will not tolerate racist carpet-baggers being bussed in to stir up divisions in our diverse community."
A pre-action letter was issued by the council today, indicating that Judicial Review of the Metropolitan Police’s decision will be sought in the High Court unless the Metropolitan Police Commissioner applies without delay to the Home Secretary for a prohibiting order under section 13 the Public Order Act 1986.
The Mayor has also demanded an urgent meeting with the Home Secretary and the Commissioner on Monday, to include the local MPs Jim Fitzpatrick and Rushanara Ali and London Assembly member John Biggs. Mayor Rahman has written to the MPs, urging them to join his demand for an urgent meeting to push for a ban.
Mayor Rahman concluded, “We need to get around the table and sort this out. Otherwise, lives and livelihoods, as well as our community cohesion, are at stake.”
Photographs E Weatherwax and S Sto Helit, other than from the Sun and the Mayor's website.
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