Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Islamic Forum of Europe, Tower Hamlets, and Luftar Rahman.

with 6 comments

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.”


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.[1][8][9][10] After the liberation of Bangladesh, Chowdhury escape from Bangladesh and took British citizenship.[11][12]

 Chowdhury is a trustee (former Chairman) of Muslim Aid,[3][13][14] and a director of Muslim spiritual care provision in theUnited Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS).[4] 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.[5][9][10][15]

 Mueen has remained in the United Kingdom since leaving Bangladesh shortly after its independence in 1971.[16] Mueen-Uddin denies the charges.[17] 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,

John Ware, Independent, 13th of April.
An investigation is not Islamophobia

The Asian Mayor of Tower Hamlets says he welcomes scrutiny, yet he tried to stop a BBC ‘Panorama’ report.


Written by Andrew Coates

April 14, 2014 at 12:08 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Golly, gosh – Muslims, Gilligan, Telegraph. Please change the subtitle of this blog to ‘Right Socialist blog’ (the clue is in the Twitter name but not that many know who Raptis was now.)

    A. Gilligan “council’s lavish funding of the East London Mosque.” Like how? 1. LBTH gives money directly to mosque funds (and how does that appear in the books? – religious donation? such would be ultra vires) Such a claim is just rubbish. 2. LBTH has given a small amount of funding for mosque repairs like it has to a synagogue etc? Maybe, and a wrong thing to do, but hardly lavish funding or for Muslims only. 3. LBTH has paid ELM to run language classes, childrens playgroup etc? Most likely reason (if any) but is common practice (sadly) by all councils to pay religious organisations to do such. 4. LBTH has given no money to ELM for anything.

    B. “There are clear questions about the public funding of groups involved in Bangladeshi politics.” Like how do you get to that? Funding of ELM = funding IFE = funding JeI? I’d like you to prove there is such a money trail, never mind the weakness in that argument which I identify in A.

    Don’t get me wrong – there are problems with Rahman that there are with every Council Leader or elected Mayor, not least their capitalist politics. Wales, Mayor of Newham and WHUFC Director would do well to answer questions about why LBN is lending millions to West Ham to enable them to move into the former Olympic stadium, or how he is one of very few, or even the sole user, of a repair and decoration service provided by the council to homeowners for payment but which has never before, or very rarely before, been publicised.

    If you are going to write, do your research, which Gililgan, despite his slipperyness, can do. As he writes “in 2011 the council sold (Old Poplar Town Hall) for £875,000, little more than what a three-bedroom Victorian house in the neighbourhood would cost. Poplar Town Hall, though, is big enough for its new owners to be converting it to a 25-bedroom hotel.” That’s an interesting question that needs an answer but people also need to understand that a Mayor doesn’t have the council cheque-book and makes up his own rules.If,for example, the council’s Head of Finance and/or Monitoring Officer does not prevent a sale that may not be getting best value he or she will be held responsible.

    At present all that can be seen in your writing is is ‘Muslim – Islam – fundamentalist – Muslim etc’.

  2. It is amazing that you are so favourable to group that physically attacks leftists.

    Oh of course they are Bangladeshi leftists who get assaulted and killed so they don’t matter.

    Andrew Coates

    April 15, 2014 at 11:55 am

  3. Are you serious!!! A three bedroom house in Poplar costs £875,000 but it’s such a dump. That just shows that the world has gone stark staring mad. Housing is a need not for greed.

    Sue R

    April 15, 2014 at 10:17 pm

  4. Let me give you some comparative figures. Th old Poplar Town Hall stands on the corner of Poplar High St and Woodstock Terrace. Woodstock Terrace is one of the last complete surviving Victorian terraces in Tower Hamlets comprising houses of a basement and three stories on the very edge of the docklands development. A fully restored one in good condition could go for a £million.

    Some Bangladeshi business men I know recently sold a site in Brick Lane on which they had run a supermarket/cash and carry with planning permission for an hotel for £8.4 million. The land area was almost the same. If anything the old town hall is slightly bigger.

    The sale was not put out to tender but was done in house to an associate of the Mayor. Planning permission was given by the Mayor in secret through delegated powers. The deal was done to favour an associate of the Mayor and one of his financial backers. None of this is a secret and Lutfur Rahman simply doesn’t care because he thinks he can get away with running Tower Hamlets like a third world banana republic and until last week he has.

    One of the major issues that the more responsible members of the Bangladeshi community are concerned about is the fact tat vast sums of money are being spent by Rahman on Mother Tongue Teaching. This sounds good in practice and all very multi culti and right on but the results it’s has been implementation in Tower Hamlets has been to produce a generation of young Bangladeshis whose English is so poor they leave school barely able to communicate in the language of the country they were born in.

    It got to the stage that English was being taught trough the medium of Bengali in the centre of London! All of this was done as a way of enforcing the control of the mosques as non Bangladeshis couldn’t and didn’t know what was going on. The classes were used by the Islamic Forum Europe as a way of disseminating their extremist brand of Islam. The situation with the East London Mosque and Muslim Centre was such that when it wanted to host preachers who were banned from this country, and others, for inciting hatred against Jews, Christians and gays among others, they were beamed in by satellite.

    Preachers like Adul Rahman al Sudais who has compared Jews to snakes and pigs were welcomed with open arms by Rahman who had private meetings with him at the town Hall. Sudais was refused entry to this country earlier this year. This is the kind of poison that Rahman has introduced and fosters.

    Would anyone like to comment on this so far?


    April 20, 2014 at 8:24 am

  5. I’d like to comment saying you are talking complete rubbish. (I have worked in senior positions for several councils).

    1.The Mayor of TH DOES NOT HAVE DELEGATED PLANNING POWERS! Any such delegated decision will be made by a Council Officer. Duh!

    2.Any such sale is obviously done “in-house” (i.e. they don’t call in a third party to sell their stuff) so that’s a complete red herring.

    The Mayor or anyone – office or member – can also not just sell assets like that (and LBTH does not belong to the Mayor to sell!). You need to go through a tender or a similar process.

    If that hadn’t been the case the cops wouldn’t be saying ‘ we can see no criminal actions’; officers and members would have been arrested. You know absolutely nothing if you think any Mayor can simply say ‘ok, I’ll sell it to him for £x’.

    It is indeed interesting why such a property was sold for so little (if I take it on trust that Gilligan has this fact right). Previous scams elsewhere have included subverting the bidding process (advising mates what other bids are), false low valuations, etc.

    I will be interested in seeing the outcome but what I do know is there is zero chance of such ever just being shrugged off (A District Auditor will never say – Oh Well, TH – what do uou expect’). Either the claims are false, exaggerated, missing key details (e.g. maybe the the building is structurally unsound) or people will be locked up

    3. As you are talking such rubbish about 1 and 2, I will place no trust in your remaining paras/

    I take it that up are a Labour Party member. Have some decency and do some research first

  6. You couldn’t be bothered to Google it.

    Relevant bits from East London Advertiser article Jan 2014:

    The old Poplar Town Hall—steeped in East End social history with the 1921 rates rebellion—was sold in 2011 at a knock-down price of £867,000 to be used for offices.
    But Opposition councillors at Tower Hamlets are furious at revelations in a national newspaper on Sunday that the listed building in Poplar High Street, within walking distance of Canary Wharf, has a ‘change of use’ permit and is to be turned into a luxury hotel.
    The switch was recommended in July 2013 by council officers behind closed doors, instead of being aired by the authority’s legally-constituted planning committee, it has emerged.
    Planning decisions are made by the council’s Development and Strategic Development committees, not the Mayor. The rules give officers the authority to make decisions with the exception of matters reserved to the committees.
    Planning and listed building consent for Poplar Town Hall was granted by officers “as these exceptions did not apply,” said a council spokesman.
    But critics insist “a major change of use” which also increased its value several fold should have been debated in public—not behind closed doors.

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