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Richard Seymour Advises on Tower Hamlets Politics.
The story of Lutfur Rahman is a democratic success story. The fact that it seems dodgy to the political and media classes is indicative of how long they’ve been insulated from anything resembling real democracy.
By Richard Seymour and Ashok Kumar (a PhD student of Economic Geography at Oxford University. He lives in Tower Hamlets in east London.)
Compare and contrast,
One thing is clear, though: the Mayor is not a racist. “I grew up with black kids and white kids,” he sobbed. “I grew up with Jewish kids, Christian kids, people of no faith.”
Yet while Mr Rahman can’t take it when he’s accused of racism, some of his supporters seem happy to dish it out.
Here, for example, are comments from one supporter’s Facebook page, adorned with pictures of the Mayor: “Zionists are the root cause of all the evil on this planet right now Zionists are filthy animals with total depravity of any form of decent humanity.
“Behaviour of those who are descendants of Pigs and Monkeys (Zionist). Zionist filth!”
He is the first mayor to fund faith directly from local taxes, which some Bangladeshis themselves believe is potentially divisive.
Although money is going to synagogues and churches, so far most applicants have been mosques since Muslims are by far the most active faith group in the borough.
Lutfur Rahman is also the only mayor who has given grants to the media – over £50,000 to Bangla TV stations and newspapers whose coverage has been flattering; and to run a weekly council newspaper which the Government says has constantly promoted him and his party; and to create a logo using not just his name but also his photo – even on council dust carts.
“One of the most controversial councils in the country is facing an investigation by the Electoral Commission, after a local election vote count was finally competed Tower Hamlets in east London after five days of delays.”
Most people would have thought that Seymour would have shut up about these issues since his dispute about Race Play (see Sex, Power Play, and Trotskyism)
Most people would have considered that Seymour would have taken our kindly meant advice and done this,
“I shall eat grass and die in a ditch in the brown water where dead leaves have rotted”.
Conservative Home asks,
“Is it Conservative to believe that “the Islamic state is the greatest contribution to humanity”?
They report on events in Newham, ,
” in which local Conservatives have issued a leaflet aimed at what it describes as “the Muslim community” which has been translated into Urdu, Gujurati and Bengali.
The fourth of the leaflet’s ten pledges is “respect for religious beliefs and needs when making planning decisions, while point eight is “opposition to any further betting shops in Newham”.
At least one of the Tory candidates running in the council elections will endorse this view wholeheartedly. He is Mufti Shah Sadruddin, who has called for a Muslim political identity.
“We have to create a revolution for our rights,” he is recorded as saying. “The gays can get their rights…but when Islam is being abused we can’t even save it. We have 50 million Muslims in Europe, we are good for nothing. The Jewish community, they have their anti-Semitism, they have this Holocaust. The gays got these gay rights but any Tom, Dick, Harry can make a movie, Satanic Verses…but we are 1.5 billion Muslims but we are not politically powerful. Block the roads of Newham just like Tahrir Square.”
Other statements by Sadruddin reportedly include the following: “Even Britain has a blasphemy law. We are sleeping, brothers…The greatest threat to Islam is through the removal of Islamic politics. The Islamic state is the greatest contribution to humanity. Only politics can unite the Muslim Ummah [brotherhood]. Politics is the tool which can unite the Muslims and the Ummah.” Shah reportedly organised and was certainly present at a rally for George Galloway last year. Two other Conservative council candidates in Newham are former candidates for Respect.
The Express adds,
An ISLAMIST leader of the campaign to build a “mega mosque” near Britain’s Olympic Stadium is standing as a Tory in this month’s council elections
Mufti Shah Sadruddin, who believes in the notion of Islamic states, has no known previous links to the Tories, and has been an enthusiastic supporter of Respect MP George Galloway.
The Conservative party in the east London borough has also selected two other candidates who have previously stood for socialist Respect..
Subway Stirs up Religious Controversy.
Subway is now making 185 outlets sell only Halal food.
Sandwich chain Subway has defended changing the contents of some products in line with demands by Muslims for meat to comply with sharia law.
Sandwiches at 185 Subway outlets in Britain and Ireland no longer come with ham or bacon as the pig is regarded as unclean in Islam.
The pork has been replaced by turkey in a move the company hopes will avoid offending Muslim customers. Turkey is halal, or clean, to Muslims.
Subway outlets adopting the new policy will display a window sticker reading: “All meats are halah.”
There are, however, those who will not eat ritually slaughtered food.
This will hit one group directly: Sikhs.
Some Sikhs are vegetarian but those who are not have to follow the rule of not consuming Halal meat.
” Sikhs are strictly prohibited from eating meat killed in a ritualistic manner (such as halal or kosher, known as Kutha meat, or any meat where langar is served. In some small Sikh Sects, i.e. Akhand Kirtani Jatha eating any meat is believed to be forbidden, but this is not a universally held belief. The meat eaten by Sikhs is known as Jhatka meat.”
Subway, like many ‘multi-culturalists ‘, appears to be unaware of the complexities of different religious stands on food.
It should not have entered this divisive area in the first place.
Benefiting Islamist Reactionaries.
“A London council at the centre of an investigation into alleged fraud is also under scrutiny over its links to Islamic extremism, according to a classified government document leaked to The Telegraph. Ministers sent inspectors to Tower Hamlets council, in east London, last week to investigate the alleged abuse of public resources to reward supporters of Lutfur Rahman, its controversial directly-elected mayor.”
Andrew Gilligan continues,
The document, a report to Mr Cameron dated Sept 2013, expresses particular concern about the council’s lavish funding of the East London Mosque and the Osmani Trust, a Muslim-only youth group. The mosque is also named in the counter-terrorism local profile, the document reveals. The document says there are “serious concerns” about both organisations’ “links to extremists, or willingness to host extremist speakers or organisations”.
The East London Mosque has hosted hundreds of meetings with extremist preachers, including a “live telephone Q&A” with the al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, advertised with a picture of Manhattan under bombardment. Both bodies are closely linked to the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), which seeks a sharia state in Europe and played a key part in Mr Rahman’s election as mayor in 2010. Together they have received more than £2 million in council funding.
Can we say, with George Galloway (2010) that, “I don’t know who is or isn’t a member of the IFE, and I have only the haziest knowledge of what they stand for….” ?
Is the IFE the “European wing” of Jamaat-e-Islami, the violent Bangladeshi Islamist group, normally classed on the extreme right? Wikipedia makes these allegations about one of the founders of the IFE.
Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin Mueen-Uddin born 27 November 1948), is one of the convicted war criminal for killing Bengali intellectuals in collaboration with Pakistan army at the time of Bangladesh liberation war. After the liberation of Bangladesh, Chowdhury escape from Bangladesh and took British citizenship.
Chowdhury is a trustee (former Chairman) of Muslim Aid, and a director of Muslim spiritual care provision in theUnited Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS). On 3 November 2013, the International Crimes Tribunal which is set up by the government of Bangladesh to judgeinternational crimes committed during 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, sentenced Mueen-Uddin, in absentia, to death for killing 9 teachers of Dhaka University, 6 journalists and 3 doctors in 1971.
Mueen has remained in the United Kingdom since leaving Bangladesh shortly after its independence in 1971. Mueen-Uddin denies the charges. Since moving to the UK in the early 1970s, Mueen-Uddin has taken British citizenship and built a career as a community activist and Muslim leader. In 1989 he was a key leader of protests against the Salman Rushdie book, The Satanic Verses. Around the same time he helped to found the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe,Jamaat-e-Islami’s European wing, which believes in creating a sharia state in Europe and in 2010 was accused by a Labour minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, of infiltrating the Labour Party. Tower Hamlets’ directly-elected mayor, Lutfur Rahman, was expelled from Labour for his close links with the IFE.
Until 2010 Mr Mueen-Uddin was vice-chairman of the controversial East London Mosque, controlled by the IFE, in which capacity he greeted Prince Charles when the heir to the throne opened an extension to the mosque.
He was also closely involved with the Muslim Council of Britain, which has been dominated by the IFE. He was chairman and remains a trustee of the IFE-linked charity, Muslim Aid, which has a budget of £20 million. He has also been closely involved in the Markfield Institute, the key institution of Islamist higher education in the UK.
The IFE makes this bland description of itself,
Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) is a community organisation that seeks social and spiritual renewal. Through the values enshrined in the Islamic faith, members of IFE are obliged to be full and active participants in society, benefiting all people. IFE has branches throughout the UK and has affiliates in Western Europe. Its youth wing is called the Young Muslim Organisation UK (YMO UK), with branches across Britain. Its women’s wing is Muslimaat UK. With origins in the 1970s, IFE brings together Muslims of all backgrounds who have made Europe their home. As a collective, IFE facilitates an enlightened appreciation of Islam that is relevant to the context and realities of our time. We undertake social activities – from schools and youth clubs to community engagement and women’s empowerment projects, spiritual development – from prayer to retreats
But dig a little deeper and we find that the IFE is indeed closely aligned to the Jamaat.
This is their protest against the hanging of convicted genocider and war criminal Abdul Qader Mollah,
The Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) condemns in no uncertain terms the hanging to death of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami Assistant Secretary-General, Abdul Qader Mollah, on Thursday as an act of judicial murder( Statement Issued 13th December 2013)
Mr Mollah’s summary execution follows a sham trial which has been described by international human rights groups as failing to meet international standards, politically influenced and discredited.
IFE considers Abdul Qader Mollah’s death as state murder by a government doing all it can to cling onto power indefinitely. The whole process has been a farce, and the Bangladeshi government has ignored international demands to ensure that this process calls under international jurisdiction.
The execution of Mr Mollah, in breach of all international standards will, no doubt, plunge Bangladesh further into crisis. The threat of violence and civil unrest is very real. The IFE is concerned that this pre-determined process will be used by the Awami League regime to declare a state of emergency and derail any attempts to hold free and fair elections in January.
The IFE urges the international community, and in particular the UK government to reconsider the financial and diplomatic support afforded to this regime.
There are clear questions about the public funding of groups involved in Bangladeshi politics.
For the left, apart from those deluded enough to think that Rahman is “Progressive”, the issues are wider.
Last year Gita Saghal commented,
Fundamentalist demonstrations from the Jamaat associated East London Mosque have been taking place regularly after Friday prayers, according to activists. Secular Bangladeshis of all religious backgrounds and none were finally able to rally and march outwards from Altab Ali park through Brick Lane and the surrounding streets. It was a suitable demonstration that the secular activists who have been receiving regular death threats have not been cowed into retreat.
Thousands of leaflets have been distributed from the East London Mosque and across the world labelling prominent bloggers as atheists. Sermons have been read attacking atheists, Hindus and suggestive statements made regarding sexual assault.
In Bangladesh, fundamentalists paraded a banner which said, ‘we demand the death penalty for atheist bloggers because they use obscene language to criticise Allah, Mohammed and the Quran.’ Statements such as these, along with murderous attacks on atheist and free thinking bloggers, need to be considered alongside the leaflets identifying named individuals as atheists and accusing them of insulting religion, to see whether they amount to incitement to murder.
Fundamentalists consider it an obligation for believers to kill apostates; a recent Moroccan fatwa makes this very clear, as does the experience of an atheist from Bangladesh, applying for asylum in Canada.
This is worth remembering every time people read something on Tower Hamlets,