The 4 Freedoms Library

It takes a nation to protect the nation

It is almost exactly a year since Lutfur Rahman was elected mayor of Tower Hamlets after being sacked from the Labour Party for his links with the Islamic extremist group, the IFE, and a controversial local businessman, Shiraj Haque. His term so far has indeed, as I predicted, been a “slow-motion car crash.”

The latest row, the other week, was caused by his council’s decision (now reversed) to hire out the Merchant Navy War Memorial gardens for City bankers’ C... Here are the other highlights of Lutfur’s recent political career: let me know if I’ve missed any.

March 1 2010: The Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches reveal that Lutfur, then the Labour council leader, achieved the position with the help of the IFE, which works to create an "Islamic social, economic and political order" in Britain. In a filmed interview, he refuses to deny the charge.  Under Lutfur, large sums of council money are diverted to IFE front organisations, a man with close links to the IFE is made the council’s assistant chief executive despite being unqualified for the job, and the respected white chief executive is summarily sacked. In undercover filming, senior IFE activists boast of their “consolidated… influence and power” over the council.  The local Labour MP, Jim Fitzpatrick, tells us that his party has been “infiltrated” by the IFE.

May: Lutfur is replaced by the Labour group as council leader. The IFE-linked assistant chief executive is forced to resign. However, the IFE now aims to “get one of our brothers” into the powerful new directly-elected mayoral post that is to replace the council leadership in October.

July/August: Lutfur is excluded from Labour’s shortlist for the mayoral candidacy, but goes to court to force his reinstatement. The solicitor he uses was closely connected to the al-Qaeda-supporting group, al-Muhajiroun, and signed a fatwa calling for a “full-scale war of jihad” against Britain and the US.

September 3: In filmed interviews (transcripts here), local residents tell how Lutfur has personally signed up their entire families as sham Labour members to win selection as the party’s mayoral candidate.

September 4: Lutfur is selected as the Labour candidate.

September 15: Evidence is submitted by one of the defeated candidates and others to Labour’s National Executive Committee detailing Lutfur’s links with the IFE and Shiraj Haque and alleging massive fraud in the selection.

September 18: Lutfur is accused of failing to declare thousands of pounds in donations from Shiraj Haque – a criminal offence, if true. We have been asked to point out that Lutfur was later sent a police letter saying that there was "no case to answer." However, the complainant, Cllr Peter Golds, insists that the police never investigated the matter seriously. (See PCC adjudication here.)

September 21: Labour’s NEC sacks Lutfur as the candidate.

September 25: Lutfur stands as an independent. Under Labour Party rules, he is automatically expelled from the party. Six of the people whosign his nomination papers have the same names as senior office-holders and trustees of the IFE.

October 15: Thousands of copies are distributed of publicity material smearing Lutfur’s Labour opponent as a wife-beater and an enemy of Islam. The chief coordinator of Lutfur’s campaign, Bodrul Islam, later says that the material was produced by people “embedded” in the Rahman campaign and with its full knowledge.

October 19: Ken Livingstone, Labour candidate for mayor of London, who has also benefited from IFE support, and been personally paid money by Lutfur's council, campaigns for Lutfur against his own party’s candidate.

October 21: Lutfur Rahman elected mayor. The chief coordinator of his election campaign, Bodrul Islam, later says that the new mayor had a "strategic relationship" with the IFE and "most of [Lutfur's] campaigners during the election were either Respect or IFE activists."

October 28: Lutfur furious as the council votes to deny him a 98 per cent pay rise, awarding instead a 71 per cent rise. One of his key supporters, Cllr Oli Rahman, describes it as a “cynical” attempt to “undermine the mayor.”

November 3: Tower Hamlets places CDs of sermons by an extremist Islamic preacher, Abdurraheem Green, in the Town Hall reception area. Green believes that “Islam is not compatible with democracy” and that a husband should have the right to administer "a very light beating” to his wife.

November 10: Lutfur appoints Alibor Choudhury, a former employee of an IFE front organisation with a long track record of encounters with the police, to the key post of cabinet member for finance. Alibor was committed for trial for violent disorder in 2006, but the case was dropped due to what he insists was an “abuse of process.”

November: Lutfur’s publicly-funded political adviser at Tower Hamlets, Kazim Zaidi, anonymously writes a chapter in an Exeter University reportattacking Lutfur's critics and libelling six senior figures in the Tower Hamlets Labour Party and the local Labour MP as racists. The university is forced to withdraw the report and issue a grovelling apology.

December-February: At council meetings, Shiraj Haque and a crowd of other Lutfur supporters shout homophobic abuse at the mayor’s opponents from the public gallery. They abuse Peter Golds, the Tory leader, as “Mrs Golds” and a “poofter.” They heckle another gay councillor, Labour’s Josh Peck, and a gay local resident speaking at the meeting with animal noises and cries of “Unnatural acts! Unnatural acts!”

January 27: An official Labour Party inquiry finds a “concerted effort” to add fake members to the party during the campaign to select Labour’s candidate for the Tower Hamlets mayoralty.

February 23: Lutfur’s voting bloc on the council passes a motion to “campaign against the pariah state of Israel.”

March 8: Lutfur gives a character reference on Town Hall notepaper for Zamal Uddin, a minicab driver who had six weeks earlier pleaded guilty to a serious sexual assault on a woman passenger. When the press finds out, he claims that he did not know the nature of Uddin’s crime before agreeing to provide the reference.

March: Shiraj Haque is appointed chair of the advisory board for a major council-subsidised festival, the Baishakhi Mela. The council had previously removed him from all involvement with the festival and severed relations after allegations, which he denies, of massive financial irregularities.

April 4: Shiraj Haque’s premises are raided by police investigating a major counterfeit wine ring.

April 5: Disclosure logs reveal that the council is paying £50,000 a month of taxpayers’ money to three front organisations for the IFE.

April 12: One of Lutfur’s key supporters, Cllr Shelina Akhtar, is charged with fraud.

April 17:  The council’s official propaganda newspaper, East End Life, runs a series of adverts for a training centre closely connected to Anjem Choudhury, the al Qaeda supporter who runs the extremist group al-Muhajiroun.

April 27: Lutfur takes a number of council staff paid by the taxpayer tocampaign for the Labour Party in a parliamentary byelection. The District Auditor is called in.

May 8: Lutfur and Shiraj Haque turn the taxpayer-funded Baishakhi Mela festival into a platform for Ken Livingstone, who makes the keynote speech attacking Boris Johnson.

June 8: Defying a new local authority publicity code against taxpayer-subsidised council “Pravdas,” Lutfur rules that East End Life will continue publishing, at a cost to the public purse of around £1.3 million a year.

June 17: As the council passes budget cuts of £70 million, Lutfur spends £115,000 to refurbish his personal office and treble it in size.

July 4: One of Lutfur’s cabinet, Oli Rahman, appears on a platform with a group campaigning for the “unacceptability of homosexuality.” Lutfur has earlier pledged “zero tolerance” against a wave of homophobic attacks in the borough.

July 14: Lutfur acquires a luxury Mercedes and council-employed chauffeur at a cost to council taxpayers of up to £60,000 a year. No other elected mayor in London, Boris Johnson included, has an official car.

July 22: Tower Hamlets loses its second chief executive in two years as its top official, Kevan Collins, quits for a lower-paid job. He praises councillors (but not Lutfur) in his resignation statement.

August 7: It is revealed that Shiraj Haque has been given a Tower Hamlets council house at the subsidised rent of £135 a week, even though he is a multi-millionaire owning at least eight properties worth around £5 million.

August 8: As riots sweep London, Tower Hamlets’ enforcement officers are given the day off.

Sept 12: Lutfur scraps the official car of the borough’s ceremonial mayor and tells him to travel to functions, in his robes and gold chain, by taxi.

Oct 10: Tower Hamlets hits the front pages after hiring out its war memorial garden for City bankers’ Christmas parties. The decision is reversed after a storm of protest.

Oct 12: The council’s official newspaper, East End Life, promotes an extremist preacher previously banned from speaking on council premises.

Tags: Articles, Collected, Lutfur, Rahman:, Zsubversion, Zuk

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'Britain's Islamic republic': full transcript of Channel 4 Dispatches programme on Lutfur Rahman, the IFE and Tower Hamlets

I have received a number of requests for a full transcript of my Channel 4Dispatches film, broadcast in March, about the fundamentalist Islamic Forum of Europe and their ally Lutfur Rahman, just chosen as the new directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets. Lutfur was council leader at the time of the programme, a position from which he was subsequently removed.

The full transcript of the programme is given below. Words in bold are the commentary. Words in roman are interviewees. The transcript of my full unedited interview with Lutfur – even more damaging to him than the extracts used in the film – can be seen at this link.

CHANNEL 4 TELEVISION

DISPATCHES

“BRITAIN’S ISLAMIC REPUBLIC”

 TX 1 March 2010

 Reporter: Andrew Gilligan

Tonight on Dispatches, how a fundamentalist Muslim group has secretly infiltrated the Labour party – and the broader political system.

JIM FITZPATRICK MP: They are acting almost as an entryist organization, placing people within political parties.

How it wants an Islamic state, or caliphate.  And how it wants to live by sharia law in the UK.

AZAD ALI, Islamic Forum of Europe (undercover footage): Democracy, if it means that, you know, at the expense of not implementing the sharia, of course no one agrees with that.

And how it is already exerting influence over a London borough council with a billion-pound budget.

BADRUL ISLAM, Ethnic Minority Enterprise Project, Tower Hamlets: That’s not the basis on which local councils should be run.  That’s not the basis on which any political party should try to go into power.

TITLES

The biggest Islamic institution in Europe – the East London Mosque, in Whitechapel.  It presents itself as a beacon of moderation and tolerance.

DR MOHAMMED ABDUL BARI, chairman East London Mosque (archive): What we plan to do is to work for the community cohesion, community harmony so that British Muslims feel at home in the wider British society and they can contribute to the pluralist Britain.

The British establishment has built close links. Ministers; the Lord Chief Justice; and even Prince Charles.

PRINCE CHARLES (archive speech at the mosque): There is, I think, far more that unites than divides the different faiths in this country.

More than £10 million of public money has been paid to this mosque, or associated organisations, some of it under the government’s ‘Preventing Violent Extremism’ programme.  The elders have been given places on many official bodies, including the board of the London Olympics.  And the mosque has close relationships with the Mayor of London.

 

BORIS JOHNSON (archive at mosque): We’ve had a wonderful morning here at the East London Mosque which is the greatest and most historic of London’s mosques and we’ve been talking a little bit about how to break down prejudice and the huge work that’s being done by this mosque and the people who work here.

But tonight, Dispatches can reveal that this mosque complex houses a fundamentalist organisation. And that taxpayers are unwittingly helping to finance its planned and co-ordinated bid to infiltrate British politics.

PAUL RICHARDS, former special adviser, Department for Communities and Local Government: Somehow, it’s all gone horribly wrong.  And somehow the very people who we should be saying are beyond the pale, are, in fact, inside ministers’ offices, sitting around a table having cups of tea.

 

We’ve discovered that the East London Mosque’s claim of moderation is questionable.

ABDUL KARIM HATTIN, preacher (filmed at ‘Menace 2 Society’ meeting, East London Mosque): This is a little game I like to play.  Spot the fag!  (Shows picture of Elton John)

Abdul Karim Hattin is considered extreme, even by some on the hard-line Islamist circuit.

ABDUL KARIM HATTIN: The fag lifestyle …

In 2007, a conference held by an extremist publishing company at the East London Mosque complex gave him a platform, along with this man.

 

MURTAZA KHAN, preacher (filmed at ‘Menace 2 Society’ meeting, East London Mosque): Any woman who comes out of her house, perfuming herself, every single eye that looks at her… she’s an adulteress woman.  

This is Murtaza Khan, also a well-known fundamentalist.

MURTAZA KHAN: The fornicating woman and the fornicating man, flog them one hundred times.

These are just two of more than 20 extremist speakers who have spoken at the mosque over the last three years. They also include this man.

 

ANWAR AL-AWLAKI, preacher: Think about the final moments of entering into paradise, or entering into hellfire.

This is Anwar Al Awlaki.

ANWAR AL-AWKLAKI: The reckoning of people is near. And they are heedless.

A man described by the US government as spiritual leader of two of the 9/11 hijackers.  Here he is in a video address to a meeting at the East London Mosque complex, again organised by an extremist publishing company.

The event was advertised with a poster showing New York under bombardment. (Picture of poster) 

Awlaki is one of the most controversial Muslim leaders in the world.  Most of all because he’s associated with two recent attacks on the USA.

The alleged Christmas Day plane bomber, Umar Farouk Adulmutallab, is said to have met Awlaki  shortly before flying to Detroit with explosives under his clothing.

Nidal Hassan, the Muslim army major accused of murdering 12 of his fellow soldiers and a civilian in Texas, corresponded with Awlaki shortly before the attacks.  Afterwards, Awlaki called Hassan “a hero” and “a man of conscience” who could not bear  “serving in an army fighting against Muslim people.”

 

HOURIYA AHMED, Centre for Social Cohesion: The government’s meant to be preventing  violent extremism. Instead they are pumping money into a mosque which hosts extremist preachers.

PAUL RICHARDS, former adviser, DCLG: Now not every extremist becomes a supporter of violence, and not every supporter of violence becomes violent themselves to the point of becoming a bomber of a suicide bomber.  Obviously not.  But for the terrorists to succeed, they don’t need everyone to be radicalized in that way.  They just need one or two people.

The East London Mosque is strongly linked to a fundamentalist group called the Islamic Forum of Europe, whose headquarters are in the same complex.

ANDREW GILLIGAN, piece to camera: The mosque calls the IFE a “social welfare organisation”.  But this IFE leaflet says that it is dedicated to changing the “very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed … from ignorance to Islam.” 

The IFE says that it is an “open and transparent” community organization, “committed to community cohesion and religious tolerance”.  A transcript of one of its training sessions held last June says that members of its youth wing should ‘perform a lot of good deeds;’ ‘respect others’; ‘speak only that which is good.’

But in the same transcript, the teacher, a senior IFE activist, also lays out ambitious plans to impose the group’s views on society.

 

IFE TRAINING LECTURE (read by actor): Our goal is to create the True Believer, to then mobilize these believers into an organized force for change who will carry out da’wah [preaching], hisbah [enforcement of Islamic Law] and jihad [struggle.]  This will lead to social change and Iqamatud Deen.

Iqamatud Deen is usually translated as “an Islamic social, economic and political order,” but the IFE say that it is simply “establishing religious values”.

The teacher also warned recruits of the importance of:

IFE TRAINING LECTURE: …protecting yourself from all types of haram [forbidden things]… music, .. TV …and freemixing with women in that which is not necessary.

 

ANDREW GILLIGAN (interview on camera): What exactly do IFE-type Islamists want?  What is their agenda?

HOURIYA AHMED, Centre for Social Cohesion: IFE-type Islamists are inspired by a particular brand of Islamism.  It believes in creating an Islamic state, it believes in following a very medieval interpretation of Islamic law and that being imposed upon the whole of society.  It believes in creating a Muslim bloc that adheres to their point, to their interpretation of Islam.

Another speaker at the same training session told recruits:

IFE TRAINING LECTURE: Victory is for Islam and Muslims.

They were instructed to identify:

IFE TRAINING LECTURE:… who the enemies are, both from outside the circle of Islam and within the circle of Islam.

This second speaker, Abdullah Zein al-Abdin, said the transcript of his talk had been written by the IFE with their own interpretation and he had asked them to remove it from their website. 

Another, older, leaflet sets out the organization’s vision for political, as well as spiritual change.  It says the IFE:

IFE LEAFLET (read by actor): …strives for the establishment of  a global society, the Khalifah…. comprised of individuals who live by the principles of… the Shari’ah.

The IFE also associates with some hardline fundamentalists.

Last year it invited the spokesman for an Afghan warlord, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to speak at the East London Mosque complex. His forces have fought alongside the Taliban against British troops.

And then the IFE promoted this meeting, also at the same mosque complex. (Pictures of meeting)

Bilal Phillips was alleged by the US Government to be an  “unindicted co-conspirator” in the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing that killed six people and injured more than a thousand.

Hussein Yee is a 9/11 conspiracy theorist, and has said that on that day:  “A group of Jews … had a celebration, they had a party going on.”

 

Anwar Al Awlaki is another IFE favourite.  Twice the IFE gave him a platform in 2003, and senior activists have praised him much more recently, although since the 2009 terrorist attacks to which he’s been linked,  IFE activists and the East London Mosque have publicly dissociated themselves from Awlaki.

The IFE and the East London Mosque are  are closely intertwined.

The mosque’s chairman, Dr Bari, is a former president of the IFE.  The IFE’s last president is vice chair of the mosque.  Over the last five years, the IFE has had 22 trustees.  Seventeen of them have also been trustees  or senior staff of the East London Mosque.

We sent two Muslim reporters, a man and a woman, undercover into the  East London Mosque, and its extension, the London Muslim Centre – to find out how the IFE is proposing to create its Islamist social and political order in Britain.

MR Z, undercover reporter (entering mosque): There’s a meeting next door?  Brother Talha?

This is a snapshot of the IFE’s world. And it’s one where the men make all the decisions.

FEMALE IFE ACTIVIST: It’s mainly like the brothers know exactly what’s going on, what’s happening. And we kinda get told – ok, this is the plan, this is what’s gonna happen. And the sisters get on board.

ABU TALHA, IFE activist (showing ceiling-height screen dividing room): This is just a segregation kind of apparatus.

Even in routine meetings, the sexes are separated by a screen.

MALE IFE ACTIVIST: Are all the sisters here, insh’allah?

FEMALE IFE ACTIVIST, behind screen: Yeah, everyone’s here. 

Our reporters found that the IFE is a highly structured political movement. Members take formal training courses, with reading lists, and sit exams.  There’s an oath of allegiance. Our reporter was told to keep her involvement with the IFE a secret.

FEMALE IFE TEACHER, recruit training session: This is one of the books we’re gonna be reading in our training. All of you have been asked to read that book.

This book, Let Us Be Muslims, by Syed Mawdudi, is one of the key texts  on the IFE reading list.  It sets out the main principles of the political creed known as Islamism.

LET US BE MUSLIMS (read by actor): Merely believing in God … is not enough.

Muslims, it says, have a sacred duty…

LET US BE MUSLIMS: …wherever you are, in whichever country you live, you must strive to change the wrong basis of government, and seize all powers to rule and make laws from those who do not fear God.

FEMALE IFE TEACHER, recruit training session: We can’t say that ok praying 5 times a day as a Muslim that’s enough.  No. We have to accept every aspect of Islam.  Political aspect, economical aspect, cos Islam provides all the solutions, yeah?  Allah gives us everything, the sharia covers everything, every aspect of life.

Islamism proclaims that Islam is more than a religion.  It’s a political and social movement.

Rashad Ali grew up with the IFE.  Members of his family were leaders of the group.  He says the IFE follows Mawdudi’s methods for achieving an Islamic society.

RASHAD ALI, Centri, counter-extremism consultancy: He [Mawdudi] explains prayer, fasting as spiritual training for the jihad. They take very benign basic religious ideas and present a very very strong ideological Islamist slant. Their perspective is one needs to, well, basically, do whatever it takes to achieve that end. If you have to join a secular party in order to become influential, you even join a secular party to become influential.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: So you join a secular party with aims actually opposed perhaps to that party?

RASHAD ALI: Of course.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: With the intention of what, taking it over?

RASHAD ALI: With the intention of being able to influence the future political agenda. The aim of jihad is to bring down every other government which does not impose Islam, or their interpretation of Islam.  And therefore the Muslim is the international revolutionary, is part of the grand revolutionary movement.

The IFE told Dispatches that it “does not promote or preach any particular school of thought or sect, but assists its members in exploring and developing their religious understanding”, and that it works closely with a number of non-Muslim organizations.  They told us that any oath was ‘wholly uncontroversial’, and compared it to the Boy Scouts.

The  East London Mosque told Dispatches that the IFE is not anti-democratic and it does not dictate the mosque’s agenda.

EAST LONDON MOSQUE STATEMENT (read by actor): We deny that there is anything improper or inappropriate about the links between the mosque, the London Muslim Centre and the IFE.

The Mosque also said that they had  “repeatedly taken a public stance against violent extremism.” Action would be taken to prevent abuse by preachers who espoused violent extremism or contravened the mosque’s principles of tolerance.

Next, in part two: how the IFE is already creating its “Islamic social and political order”– right here in a part of Britain.

NURUL ISLAM, community activist: What they are now doing is, they have tried to infiltrate the mainstream parties, like the Labour Party.

END OF PART ONE

PART TWO

 

Dispatches is investigating how the fundamentalist Islamic Forum of Europe, the IFE, is infiltrating British politics.  I’m starting here, in the London borough of Tower Hamlets.

 

This is one of Britain’s most important boroughs. The seat of its traditional power, and also its new financial power. But a new form of power is creeping in here too: organised Islamist fundamentalism.

One of the local MPs, government minister Jim Fitzpatrick, has seen the IFE begin to put Mawdudi’s theories, of changing government and seizing power, into practice.

 

JIM FITZPATRICK, Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse: They are an ideological organisation.  They are not a religious organisation, certainly not exclusively a religious organisation.  The suggestion is that they have councillors, candidates, standing for different parties, in different parts of the country, and that they encourage their members to vote for those candidates regardless of which political party they are representing in the ballot box.

The IFE’s roots here are deep, and its tactics and targets always shifting.   It is 2005. A hotly-contested General Election seat in the heartland of the IFE, at Bethnal Green and Bow.

 

GEORGE GALLOWAY, Respect party candidate, campaigning outside East London Mosque (2005 archive footage): Salaam aleikum. George Galloway, nice to meet you.

Standing for the new Respect party is the controversial figure of George Galloway.

GEORGE GALLOWAY, archive: Mr Blair’s days are numbered.

(Archive footage of Abjol MiahAmong the key people helping him is this man, Abjol Miah – a rising young star in the Islamic Forum of Europe.  He will become a key figure in Galloway’s Respect Party.

 

George Galloway achieves a famous victory, overturning a large Labour majority.

GEORGE GALLOWAY, victory speech at 2005 count: Mr Blair, this is for Iraq.

Mr Galloway’s strong support for the Palestinians, and his opposition to war in Iraq went down well in a constituency with a high proportion of Muslims.

GEORGE GALLOWAY, victory speech: In East London, a new political power is born.

But Mr Galloway’s Respect Party was not the only winner that night.  The IFE had scored its first significant political victory,  though it did not itself stand for election.

 

ABJOL MIAH, Respect and IFE activist, 2005 archive: Well, I think everyone’s played a big role.

WOMAN: He’s played a massive role, don’t let him be modest about it – he’s huge.

ABJOL MIAH: We … it just happened really.

MAN (OFF CAMERA): He’s the man.

Mr Galloway himself was in no doubt over the importance of the IFE’s role. We’ve obtained a recording of him addressing a dinner, held at the mosque complex shortly after the election.

 

GEORGE GALLOWAY (secret recording of 2005 dinner): I am indebted more than I can say, more than it would be wise – for them – for me to say, to the Islamic Forum of Europe.  I believe they played the decisive role.

Mr Galloway then praised individuals who campaigned for him, and said their persistence..

 

GEORGE GALLOWAY: …which found its echo amongst the leadership and the rank and file of the IFE,  was undoubtedly decisive in this historic victory.

In a statement, the IFE told Dispatches that it did not campaign for Mr Galloway’s election.

Mr Galloway, however, said that the IFE had campaigned for him, and told Dispatches that it would not have been wise to thank them more publicly because the IFE had enemies within Tower Hamlets Labour Party, and associating the IFE with his victory would make those enemies more hostile. He added: 

GALLOWAY STATEMENT: You are clearly going to claim that my victory was somehow a victory for the IFE. This is ridiculous. From the day of that speech until this I have had no approach whatsoever from them seeking anything, still less to exert influence on me.

The following year, in 2006, Respect went on to win 12 seats on the council.   The IFE was seen as an influential force that had delivered, again.

Abjol Miah, who campaigned to get George Galloway in to parliament,  now became the Respect group leader on the council. But Mr Galloway had offended many Muslims with his antics in the Big Brother house. And his party was losing its momentum.

 

Dispatches is told the IFE was also working inside the Labour Party in Tower Hamlets. And it stepped up its efforts.

 

JIM FITZPATRICK MP: People were being signed up to be members and then told to turn up at the meetings, where candidates were being selected with a list of those who they should be voting for, and who we had never seen before and have never seen afterwards.

Tower Hamlets Labour Party is in ‘special measures’.  It operates under supervision by the national party. Last year, Tower Hamlets was told it could not select its own candidates.  The regional party director  oversaw that.

 

A Labour Party spokesman said: “We’re concerned about people joining for the right reasons and are trying to prevent organizations filtering in who may try taking over the party by signing up and ousting existing members.  We’re sensitive following events with Militant a few years ago.”

 

ANDREW GILLIGAN, on-camera interview: Lutfur, why is the local Labour Party in special measures?

CLLR LUTFUR RAHMAN, leader Tower Hamlets Council: It’s a question you should direct to the regional office.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: But you are the leader of the Labour Party in Tower Hamlets.

CLLR LUTFUR RAHMAN: The London region could give you that.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: We’re quoting a Labour Party spokesman in our film, as saying they are quote ‘trying to prevent organizations filtering who may try taking over the party’.  Is that something you’re concerned about?

CLLR LUTFUR RAHMAN:  I’m not concerned, I haven’t seen any signs of that.  However if the London regional party have concerns, they will no doubt have raised it with Tower Hamlets Labour Party.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: They haven’t raised it with you at all?

CLLR LUTFUR RAHMAN: That’s something you need to seek further clarification from London region.
ANDREW GILLIGAN: Have they raised it with you?

CLLR LUTFUR RAHMAN: They’ve raised various concerns with me, but those concerns have been around since 2001, way before I’ve been the leader, in fact before I’ve been a councillor.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: They’ve raised concerns quite recently, is my understanding.

CLLR LUTFUR RAHMAN: There are concerns that the region have raised, with London, er Tower Hamlets Labour Party.

We’ve managed to get hold of the local Labour Party membership lists for 2006 and 2008, and we’ve noticed some very unusual patterns.

 

Almost everywhere else in the country, Labour Party membership has been in decline.  But here in Tower Hamlets, it’s more than doubled.  One ward, Weavers, saw a 208% rise in those two years alone.  Was that caused by a sudden, localised rise in affection for the Labour Party in East London? Or were there other factors at work?

 

We’ve discovered that in 2006, the local Labour Party was, like the borough, roughly 50 percent Asian and 50 per cent non-Asian.  But now, 90 per cent of the new members have Asian names.

ANDREW GILLIGAN, on-camera interview: Elsewhere in the country Labour membership has been falling, but here membership has gone up. From 551 members in 2006, to more than 1100 members in 2008.

CLLR LUTFUR RAHMAN: This clearly demonstrates the support that the Labour Party has in Tower Hamlets.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: Why only in Tower Hamlets?  What’s so special about Tower Hamlets?

CLLR LUTFUR RAHMAN: I don’t know, go and ask the rest of the country why.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: It is suggested to us that it’s because of infiltration by the IFE.

CLLR LUTFUR RAHMAN: Andrew, what I would suggest to you is that it is because the people of Tower Hamlets are very politicized, are very conscious, are very committed Labour Party supporters.

There may be other groups at work in the factionalised environment of Tower Hamlets Labour politics.  But the local Labour MP believes that the IFE is at the very least, among them.

 

JIM FITZPATRICK MP: They are acting almost as an entryist organization, placing people within political parties, recruiting members to those political parties, trying to get those individuals selected and elected so they can exercise political influence and power whether it’s at local government level or it’s at national level.

CLLR LUTFUR RAHMAN, leader Tower Hamlets Council: I have a lot of respect for Jim.  The comments he makes, they are his views.  I’m working away very hard for him, to make sure he gets re-elected.  The comments he’s made are his comments, I’m not going to comment on those comments.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: He’s the MP.  He’s the MP for this area, for the seat we’re sitting in right now.

CLLR LUTFUR RAHMAN: I cannot comment on what Jim has said. No other external organisation influences the Labour Group.

Some community activists, opposed to the IFE’s fundamentalist politics, have seen them progress in the borough, and it worries them.

 

NURUL ISLAM, community activist: People innocently donated money to build a nice place where they could pray peacefully and in comfort.  It turned out that it’s become a political base for a political party.  Which people knew nothing about, it’s only a very – handful of people knew what they were doing.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: And this is the IFE.

NURUL ISLAM: This was the formation of the IFE. So what they are now doing is, they have tried to infiltrate the mainstream parties, like the Labour Party.

So let’s start with the body where the IFE have made the greatest inroads  – Tower Hamlets council.  One of our undercover reporters inside the London Muslim Centre won the confidence of leading IFE activists.  And this is what they told him.

 

ABU TALHA, IFE activist: When they were building the London Muslim Centre they went through a tough time, had to protest.

MR Z, undercover reporter: Why is that though?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Cos the council wouldn’t allow it.

ABU TALHA, IFE: But the years have gone by. Our brothers have gone into those positions, of influence, council positions, basically it’s very much easier to do these kind of  projects.

Our reporter was then invited to join them for the IFE’s weekly radio show, Easy Talk. Six senior IFE activists discuss current affairs and Islamic obligations most Saturday nights. A key presenter is Councillor Abjol Miah, who for many years was a leading figure in the IFE youth wing, although he now claims not to be a “member” of the IFE. With the microphones in the studio turned off, our reporter chatted to Abjol Miah.

CLLR ABJOL MIAH, IFE activist: We’ve actually consolidated ourselves now.  We’ve got a lot of influence and power in the council, councillors, politicians.

Councillor Miah has told us that he wasn’t referring to the IFE in that extract but to Muslims in general.

 

On Tower Hamlets council, we’re told, the IFE calls on allies who support its aims. It’s also accused of using its influence to help its friends rise to power. These friends include the Labour leader of the council – Lutfur Rahman.

Dispatches has been told that the IFE helped him win the support of Labour councillors.

 

TED JEORY, former deputy editor, East London Advertiser: The IFE was persuading them to support Lutfur by actually saying we could actually threaten to get you deselected and lose your seat at the next election and get Respect in, instead.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: And that was what councillors said to you?

TED JEORY: Councillors, yeah.  There was one councillor in particular said to me: Ted, IFE, we are petrified by these guys, they’ve got us by the balls.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: Can you name that councillor?

TED JEORY: No.

Off the record, six people, including five serving Labour councillors, have told us that a senior member of the IFE went round canvassing councillors on Mr Rahman’s behalf during the leadership campaign.

 

ANDREW GILLIGAN, on-camera interview: Did he canvas on your behalf in the leadership election?

CLLR LUTFUR RAHMAN, leader, Tower Hamlets council: Labour party members across Tower Hamlets canvas for people when it comes to election, and there are various people across Tower Hamlets who get excited, who get involved, who try…

ANDREW GILLIGAN: Did he make any promises or threats to councillors on your behalf?

CLLR LUTFUR RAHMAN: Under no circumstances.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: That is the allegation from councillors to us.  From some of your own councillors.

CLLR LUTFUR RAHMAN: Sure.  It saddens me.  It concerns me. We have a proper process within the Labour Party.  No one should be going round making threats to anyone.  I do not condone that kind of behaviour.

Life at the Town Hall started to reflect religious practices and demands.

 

TED JEORY: Proceedings changed, they were adjourning more for prayer breaks, occasionally meetings cancelled during prayers, even during Ramadan as well.

And two years ago, councillors attending meetings which did go ahead during Ramadan were met with a new request, in an email from a council officer.

 

CLLR PETER GOLDS (Conservative), Tower Hamlets council: It suggested that all councillors should refrain from eating.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: So councillors felt they were being ordered not to eat during Ramadan.

CLLR PETER GOLDS: Yeah, and there was certainly an implication of that.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: What was your reaction to that?

CLLR PETER GOLDS: I wasn’t the councillor that raised it, but I was concerned because I do think we are, this is a multicultural borough and certainly the Muslim population is large and important but it is not the dominant culture in the borough.

We have been told that at the Annual Labour Group meeting last year, a previous council leader  – Labour’s Helal Abbas – accused the IFE of controlling the council.  Several councillors present have confirmed this to us.

 

A wall of silence surrounds the council on this.  None of the Labour councillors we’ve approached will talk on the record.  But they are clearly extremely concerned.  And councillors of all the major parties on the council call a key council appointment into question.

 

Eighteen months ago, the council needed a new Assistant Chief Executive.  It’s the second most powerful job in the borough.

 

CLLR PETER GOLDS: Very very important, he’s one of the members of the council’s senior management team, and sits alongside the chief executive with the principal officers actually guiding the policies of the council.

 

Many well qualified people applied – and some less well qualified. One of these was a man called Lutfur Ali, who’d left a previous job in troubled circumstances.  At Tower Hamlets, Peter Golds was a member of the panel that considered the candidates.

 

CLLR PETER GOLDS: I thought his CV was completely inappropriate, in fact it was downright dishonest.  His CV states that he left the Fire and Emergency Planning Authority in July 2001.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: Which isn’t true.

CLLR PETER GOLDS: Which is not true.

In fact, Lutfur Ali had had to resign from the London Fire Authority – in 2002.  He had broken a basic rule of politics. His job at the Fire Authority was politically sensitive. He wasn’t allowed to side with any one party. But he stood as a Labour Party candidate in local elections.

 

ANDREW GILLIGAN: Were you aware that he claimed on his CV to have left the fire authority in 2001, and made no mention of the circumstances in which he actually left a year later?

BRIAN COLEMAN, chairman, London Fire Authority:  He was employed by this authority well into 2002, and the reasons he left were well known and they were to do with the council elections which took place in May 2002.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: Would you have confidence in someone who omitted such a thing from his CV?

BRIAN COLEMAN: I think that in public and professional life you’ve always got to be fully open and honest on your CV.

The council’s headhunters did not know about this, but even without it they had doubts about Mr Ali.  Though he scored well on some tests, and they note that he may be an experienced operational manager, they considered him a  ‘marginal candidate’ for the shortlist.

 

CLLR PETER GOLDS (reading): “Rather limited, one-dimensional, mixed, rather superficial – and very importantly – may struggle with the intellectual challenges, in a highly strategic role.”

ANDREW GILLIGAN: And that was the verdict of the professional headhunters?

CLLR PETER GOLDS: That was the verdict of the headhunter.

Despite all this however, Mr Ali was put on the shortlist, and then given the job.

 

ANDREW GILLIGAN: I am told that all the Bengali councillors on the appointments panel voted for Lutfur Ali.

CLLR PETER GOLDS: You are absolutely correct.  They all also declared as an interest, in that they knew him.

Peter Golds complained to the council’s standards committee about the decision: his complaint was rejected.

 

Mr Ali said the incorrect dates on his CV were down to a “typographical error,” and the council said there was “no evidence that the relationship between the candidate and the councillors went beyond ordinary contact.”

 

The councillors included Labour’s Lutfur Rahman and Respect leader Abjol Miah, both linked to the IFE. And unknown to Peter Golds and the standards committee, Mr Ali also had links to the IFE.

 

ANDREW GILLIGAN: He is in fact director of something called the Centre for Muslim Affairs, whose co-directors include a senior member of  the IFE and several other people in IFE-linked organisations.  Does that explain in your eyes how he came to get this big job?

CLLR PETER GOLDS: I think it explains a great deal, yes.

One of Mr Ali’s key responsibilities in this new role is among a group of councillors and officials who hand out money to community organizations.

 

People working for secular organizations, like this one, complain that council funding is moving away from them, and towards IFE linked projects.

 

GOLAM MUSTAFA, community activist, Udichi cultural group: In the late eighties we have started lots of activities, particular culture activities, and co-operated with lots of multicultural groups. Lots of other groups, mainstream groups to bring cultural advancements of the community. And at that time we were receiving support from the Tower Hamlets Council.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: But you say that has changed now.

GOLAM MUSTAFA: Resources is going to the Islamic and fundamentalist group.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: So there is a move away from secular organizations, like you, to Islamic organizations.

GOLAM MUSTAFA: Yes.

Badrul Islam runs another local secular group – the Ethnic Minority Enterprise Project.

 

BADRUL ISLAM, director, Ethnic Minority Enterprise Project: We are finding it increasingly difficult to work with the local authority.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: Are you getting any funding from them?

BADRUL ISLAM: Not at the moment, no.

Last year, a previously unknown organization called CCAP, the Community Consortium Against Poverty, appeared.  It includes three key IFE linked organizations, as well as a number of others.  In February last year it was given £1.8 million by Tower Hamlets Council.

 

BADRUL ISLAM: The perception is that the current political leadership is promoting IFE and associated groups more than others. The fear is the promotion of a particular brand of Islam, that is not going to bode very well for us in the future.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: Fundamentalist Islam?

BADRUL ISLAM: Yes.

It seems to be a widespread concern in the borough.

 

CLLR PETER GOLDS: The council spends a billion pounds of public money and it is being run by a clique, within a political party, and a clique, many of whom have a religious agenda rather than an agenda which is for the benefit of the whole of the population of this borough.

BADRUL ISLAM: That’s not the basis on which local councils should be run. That’s not the basis on which any political party should try to get into power and run the council full stop. It’s simply not how it should be.

Tower Hamlets Council told Dispatches that all grants to voluntary organisations were allocated within open and transparent processes that are subject to external scrutiny.

Labour has realised it’s got a problem in Tower Hamlets. So, after suspending the normal working of the party, it sent in the head of the London region to keep an eye on events.

TED JEORY, East London Advertiser: He’s there at the back of the room with his pen and pad, taking notes, marking councillors, observing what’s going on.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: What’s he looking for, do you think?

TED JEORY: I think he’s looking to see how they interact with Respect and with other groups and how they actually perform as a bloc. 

 

So the IFE is already shifting its focus.  Abjol Miah, the IFE activist and councillor you saw earlier, has organised a petition to demand a directly elected mayor for Tower Hamlets. Unlike a council leader, a mayor would be unsackable – except by the voters every four years.  And they will also be enormously powerful.  The law says that if enough people sign a petition, the council must hold a referendum on switching to a directly elected mayor.

 

Our undercover reporter asks an IFE activist about the campaign.

 

MR Z, undercover reporter: How does it work, though? I mean, like, who’s the guy there now?

ABU TALHA, IFE activist: Some Somali brother.

MR Z: Is it? You’ve got a Muslim mayor?

ABU TALHA: Kinda.

MR Z: Didn’t know that.

ABU TALHA: We’ve had a Muslim as mayor for a long time.

MR Z: So what’s wrong with him then?  Is he not performing?

ABU TALHA: Thing is, the new mayor, the difference is gonna be that he’s gonna have a lot more control.

MR Z: The new one?

ABU TALHA: The new.

MR Z: Right.

ABU TALHA: That’s why we need to get someone, one of our brothers, in there. Which we will do.  It will be, whether it will be brother Azad or someone else.

 

Brother Azad – that’s Azad Ali, of the IFE – or another IFE-favoured candidate, may yet become mayor of Tower Hamlets. In November the petition, organized by Respect and IFE activist Abjol Miah, was handed to the council.

 

GILLIGAN PIECE TO CAMERA: But I’ve been to see it – and it’s a worrying document.  In the more than 17,000 signatures on that petition, I counted just 130 non-Asian names. That’s in a borough where 60 percent of the people are non-Asian.

 

We saw entire pages of names in the same handwriting.  Some of the names on those pages are the same as people we’ve linked to the IFE.

 

And an official report we’ve seen from council officers says that 40% of the signatures are invalid.  Some didn’t exist, some weren’t on the electoral roll, some didn’t give full names. Even so, the officials decided that enough signatures were valid, and Abjol Miah is getting his referendum. It will be held in May, though some local residents are fiercely opposed.

 

The IFE told Dispatches that it denied any part in the forgery of petition signatures.

 

People who’ve seen entryism at work before aren’t surprised to see the IFE operating in different organisations, campaigns and parties.

 

PAUL RICHARDS, former DCLG adviser: If you don’t believe in democracy, in mainstream pluralist political parties, if you have a disdain towards them, the idea of taking them over and subverting them and conning them into your way of thinking is quite an appealing thing.

In part three, where the IFE are going next – and the people trying to stop them.

 

HARMUZ ALI, vice-chair, Brick Lane Mosque: I don’t want my children to grow up in a society which is being segregated in the name of religion, or in the name of culture.

END OF PART TWO

PART THREE

 

We’ve been following the road to political power of the Islamic Forum of Europe.  But the IFE’s ambitions aren’t just political. They’re social.  They want to bring other Muslims into line – and non-Muslims, too.

 

(Film of Tower Hamlets Baishaki Mela, street festivalTower Hamlets Muslims are mainly Bengalis, from Bangladesh – inheritors of one of the richest cultures in the world. The annual Baishaki Mela celebrates that culture. But the IFE isn’t keen. A decade ago they handed out this leaflet.

 

IFE LEAFLET (read by actor): Enjoyment through music, dance, immodesty and free mixing of men and women is not the culture of Islam. This is a shameless western culture.

Muslims who take part – even if they pray and fast –

 

IFE LEAFLET (read by actor): …will be burnt in hellfire.

More recently, Golam Mustafa says he got in trouble with some people from the Mosque, just for hanging up a banner advertising the event.

 

GOLAM MUSTAFA, Udichi cultural group: They’ve attacked me myself. I was hanging a banner in the Altab Ali Park [Aldgate East] one day, in the night, evening before the Mela, and they came us and to attack us.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: What did they do?

GOLAM MUSTAFA: They said, what are you doing?

ANDREW GILLIGAN: Did they physically attack you?

GOLAM MUSTAFA: Yes. They said: “It has to come down,” and it was very very bad because we are two, they are five.

(Undercover footage) ABU TALHA, IFE activist: I’ve seen yeah, so many un-Islamic practices that people have brought into Islam.

Abu Talha, a prominent young IFE activist, describes to our undercover reporter how the East London Mosque’s imam has helped Islamicise the area.

 

ABU TALHA: He has changed this whole area. He’s brought it back

MR Z, undercover reporter: Teaching, yeah?

ABU TALHA: Yes, and its tadarruj, yeah? Tadarruj means gradualism.  He’s done it gradually.

Talha uses the flag of the Islamic caliphate – and quotes a founder of Hamas in his signature when he posts on Islamic forums on the web.  And, using the name of the IFE, he’s threatened a local Muslim: a young Bengali woman who had the temerity to start up a dating service for Muslims.  Abu Talha was not pleased.

 

ABU TALHA EMAIL THREAT (read by actor): I am asking you kindly to stop these activities as it goes against the teachings of Islam … we shouldn’t stoop to the levels of the westerner … Let me remind you that I have a huge network of brothers and sisters who would be willing to help me take this further, but I wish that you would listen to my words NOW and stop the service. If by tomorrow you haven’t changed your mind … then the campaign will begin … like I said I can take this further. PS – I am not threatening you, I am just pressuring you to stop what you do.

He only stopped when she told him that she had notified a lawyer, and the police.

 

RASHAD ALI, Centri, counter-extremism consultancy: You have this extreme puritanical political perspective, so you actually have this very divisive political ideology operating in your communities, and you’ve mainstreamed them – by giving them this legitimacy which they didn’t have before.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: Could it lead to conflict with other communities?

RASHAD ALI: Oh, it always leads to conflict with other communities – and intra-communal conflicts, because other people are not going to be religious enough.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: Other Muslims?

RASHAD ALI: Other Muslims are not religious enough, let alone non-Muslim communities.

One of the many channels of wider IFE influence is its radio programme. (Undercover footage inside radio studio.) Azad Ali is a star presenter.

 

AZAD ALI, IFE (undercover footage): Democracy, if it means at the expense of not implementing the sharia, no one’s gonna agree with that. Of course no one agrees with that.

Mr Ali is the community affairs co-ordinator of the IFE. He has posted regularly on the blog which it hosts.

 

In 2008, he praised a key mentor of Osama Bin Laden, calling him one of the “few Muslims who promote the understanding of the term jihad in its comprehensive glory”, as both a doctrine of “self purification” and of “warfare”.  Mr Ali is a civil servant and was suspended from his job for six months after the controversial posting. In January, he lost a libel action over another part of this blog.  The judge ruled that Mr Ali was ‘taking the position that the killing of American or British troops in  Iraq …would be justified.’

 

AZAD ALI (on radio show): We are all Islamists in the studio.

CALLER TO SHOW: What do you think about working for the Khilafa?

The Khilafa, or Caliphate, is an Islamic superstate, ruled by clerics, under sharia law. Many Islamist thinkers argue that it should start in Muslim majority lands, but expand afterwards to cover the world.

AZAD ALI: That’s something that you should be doing, yes.

CALLER: Definitely, yeah?

AZAD ALI: Yeah.

ABUL KALAM, co-presenter, IFE activist: You have to, man!

The IFE told Dispatches:

IFE STATEMENT (read by actor): The IFE does not support violent jihad, including attacks on British soldiers in Iraq, or sharia law in the UK. The IFE does not support or promote the idea that the Caliphate should extend to non Muslim countries.

Azad Ali’s influence extends far beyond his radio phone-in. In this document,the Metropolitan police also agreed to treat him and his IFE-linked group, the Muslim Safety Forum, as ‘the principal body in relation to Muslim community security and safety’.   And he was,until January, head of the Civil Serice Islamic Society.

 

The police are not the only organization of the state to have worked with the hard-liners from the IFE. There’s a Government fund called Preventing Violent Extremism. The theory was to boost moderates and marginalize extremists.  But almost a third of a million  pounds of  this money has gone to the East London Mosque, the London Muslim Centre and to other IFE-linked organizations.

 

Paul Richards says the policy has backfired.

 

PAUL RICHARDS, former adviser, DCLG: If you’re part of a revolutionary organisation and you hold these views as part of a fundamental canon of belief, having a chat and a cosy cup of tea with a minister is not going to change your mind.  But being around that table inside a government department, what it does do, is strengthen your hand in your own community. It gives a platform to people who actually should be – are – off the scale.  Shouldn’t be in the room at all.

Although the IFE claim to speak for the Muslim community as a whole, and their members have access to government, the fact is, they don’t even represent the Muslim community in Tower Hamlets.

This is a Bangladeshi area. But the IFE are the descendants of a fundamentalist party, Jamaati Islami, that opposed the very creation of Bangladesh.

 

Ansar Ahmed Ullah has lived and worked in Tower Hamlets for thirty years.  He campaigns against Jamaati Islami and its presence in Britain.

 

ANSAR AHMED ULLAH, Nirmal Committee: They are gaining a foothold over the whole community and gaining a sense of respectability as well. The government thinks they are the spokesperson of the Muslim community.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: But why is that?  Do they just not know any better?
ANSAR AHMED ULLAH: It’s a mystery to us, especially those of us who’ve been campaigning for years.

So the IFE continues to represent Muslims in Tower Hamlets, and beyond.  And their national profile is growing, in part, through the Muslim Council of Britain.  This group calls itself the most representative body of British Muslims.  But it, too, is increasingly dominated by the IFE.

 

The MCB’s secretary-general, Muhammad Abdul Bari is a former president and trustee of the IFE, as well as the current chairman of the East London Mosque.  IFE activist Azad Ali chairs the MCB’s membership committee.

 

In a statement to Dispatches,the IFE rejects our allegations of entryism or that it is infiltrating British political parties.  They say:

 

IFE STATEMENT (read by actor): There is no IFE policy … or strategy which directs its members to join [Tower Hamlets Labour Party] … or that is has influenced or sought to influence key funding decisions.

 

The IFE also said that Abu Talha was a recent member, who …

 

IFE STATEMENT: …has no authority whatsoever to speak for the IFE and his words do not reflect the IFE’s views.

Around Britain, the IFE’s network of grassroots groups is growing. The Oldham Muslim Centre, modelled on the East London Mosque complex. An IFE centre in Bradford. Newcastle, where the IFE recently advertised for an Imam. Plus 32 other places in Britain. And they claim branches in 14 other European countries.

 

But as the IFE goes international, in its heartland of Tower Hamlets a backlash is starting. For the first time on television, non-Islamist, mainstream Muslims in Tower Hamlets are fighting back.

 

HARMUZ ALI, vice-chairman Brick Lane Mosque: They are using the name of the IFE and they are using the house of Allah, the house of God – the East London Mosque- as the shield.  And the ordinary Muslim brothers, they go there to perform their prayers, they don’t know, they are not quite aware about the politics behind it.

We’ve spoken to many leaders of the Tower Hamlets Muslim community, like Harmuz Ali, who are furious at the way the IFE is spreading its influence and claiming to speak for them.

 

BADRUL ISLAM, Ethnic Minority Enterprise Project: IFE doesn’t have the sole licence for Islam, or promoting Islam, or working for Muslims.

SAJJAD MIAH, community activist: I think the community’s almost been pushed into the wall, even myself, pushed into the wall.  I can’t go back.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: People have been pushed too far.

SAJJAD MIAH: Too far, yes.

NURUL ISLAM, community activist: If somebody wants to become a member of IFE, good luck to him.  Somebody wants to become a member of the National Front, you can’t stop, I can’t stop them.  It’s their right.  But at least they know what they are doing.  And this I think everybody has a responsibility, bringing out the total picture, the truth, and present to the people.

Clear signals from government would help.

 

PAUL RICHARDS: Saying this particular organisation, at this time, under this leadership , is beyond the pale, would help bolster the very many moderates more mainstream voices, and give them a better platform.

But that’s not happening. The state doesn’t seem willing, or able, to tackle this.  The IFE and its allies are fond of saying that any attack on them is an attack on Islam. But it is Muslims themselves who are taking the lead, and speaking out.

 

HARMUZ ALI: I don’t want my children to grow up in a society which is being segregated in the name of religion, in the name of culture.

RASHAD ALI: We need to stop funding institutions that undermine every single civic, civil institution that we have in our society.

HOURIYA AHMED: I think a lot of politicians understand the issue but are too scared to touch it because they are scared of being labelled as Islamophobic, or anti Muslim.

ANDREW GILLIGAN: How can that position be changed, how can you give those politicians the courage to stand up against it?

HOURIYA AHMED: By standing up against it.  Just by doing it. The more politicians stand up against Islamist type of politics, the more Islamists understand that they are not welcome. By politicians and by Muslim communities.

END OF PROGRAMME

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/andrewgilligan/100059168/lutfur-r...

Lutfur Rahman and Labour Newham: compare and contrast

Pic: Archant Regional Ltd (contact 01858 419 204, red.williams@archant.co.uk)

Sir Robin Wales, the Labour mayor of Newham, is one of many mainstream politicians who will not deal with Lutfur Rahman (above), the extremist-linked independent mayor of neighbouring Tower Hamlets. In a piece I did for Saturday's paper, Wales says:

“Lutfur is following policies that will not benefit anyone in the future. I’m extremely worried that you create an enclave, and whenever you have segregation it is an unmitigated disaster.”

Both boroughs have relatively low "white British" populations. The proportion in Tower Hamlets (31 per cent white British, 44 per cent total white) is much higher than in Newham (16.7 per cent white British, 29 per cent total white). But the two boroughs have taken completely different paths on the issues of integration and community cohesion. As I put it:

Mr Rahman’s ruling council cabinet is 100 per cent Bengali, in a borough where Bengalis make up only about a third of the population. While Newham will not fund projects aimed at just one community, Tower Hamlets pours enormous sums into Bengali-only drugs projects, arts projects, youth projects and lunch clubs – many of them run by front organisations of the IFE [Lutfur's extremist allies]. Other groups are funded too, though less generously, but again more often in racial and faith silos than on any kind of general, community-wide basis.

While Newham pays for recent immigrants to learn English, Tower Hamlets, incredibly, pays enormous sums for British-born children, who have grown up speaking English, to learn Bengali. Since his election two years ago, Mr Rahman has sought to “Islamicise” Tower Hamlets, clamping down on strip clubs and a gay pub. And he has just launched a “community faith buildings support scheme” to pour further millions into religious organisations – substantially, though not exclusively, mosques.

The most interesting thing for me about Newham's approach was the support I found for it among local people, of all races, and the relative lack of push-back when the council decided to, for instance, remove ethnic-language newspapers from libraries and end grants aimed only at one community group (there was some opposition, naturally, but it was overcome.) The politics of racial separation is of course self-fulfilling: by funding on a racial and faith basis, you create client groups who can be relied on to emphasise race and faith differences, because their funding depends on it. By funding only on a general, community-wide basis, you will in the long term deprive such sectarianism of oxygen.

The domination of Tower Hamlets by Rahman's clique is even more surprising given that this is a genuinely diverse borough in which, for instance, the Bengali population (32 per cent) continues to be substantially outnumbered by the the white one. There are also sizeable numbers of black and mixed-race people. The proportion of the population which is Bengali has in fact declined slightly (from 33.4 per cent) since the last census as more eastern Europeans and white hipsters have moved in. And of course, there are thousands of Tower Hamlets Bengalis who despise Lutfur Rahman, and what he represents, just as strongly as anyone else.

Read the full piece here. More soon on how Lutfur and his allies are trying to handle Tower Hamlets' increasingly adverse demographics.

Lutfur Rahman: some facts the Guardian forgot to mention

For reasons I can’t quite understand, the Guardian newspaper, “the world’s leading liberal voice,” has appointed itself spokesperson for some of the most illiberal forces in London, notably the extremist-dominated East London Mosque and the council leader closely connected to it, Lutfur Rahman (above).  Maybe the Guardian likes them simply because the Telegraph doesn’t like them – but even for the left, that seems an outstandingly stupid reason to embrace people who oppose everything you’re supposed to believe.

The paper’s latest panegyric for Rahman, last week (“what inspires and energises me is the community”) was so poor a piece of journalism that it even briefly trended on Twitter. As Private Eye’s Tim Minogue put it, “the Order of the Brown Nose profile of Rahman worth it for comments alone.Readers put record straight – and how! More comments deleted from Guardian toadying profile of Mayor Lutfur than an Alan Rusbridger piano piece.”

The writer, Saba Salman, presented Rahman’s exclusion from the Labour Party as “a gulf between national leadership and grassroots activism,” described the allegations against him as “mudslinging,” and accepted at face value not just his denials of extremist links but his claim not to be cutting frontline services (tell that to, say, the users of the Appian Court day centre in Bow, which faces closure – while new millions are to be poured into religious buildings, mainly mosques.)

So I thought I’d update my earlier summary of the evidence against Lutfur just to remind you of all the things Ms Salman had to ignore. What follows is not mud – but fact, which has withstood literally hundreds of complaints to Ofcom and the PCC from Rahman and his supporters. Let’s hope the Guardian gets back to doing some actual reporting about this subject soon.

March 1 2010: The Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches reveal that Lutfur, then the Labour council leader, achieved the position with the help of the Islamic Forum of Europe, based at the East London Mosque, which works to create a sharia state and an "Islamic social, economic and political order" in Britain. In a filmed interview, he refuses to deny the charge.  Under Lutfur, large sums of council money are diverted to IFE front organisations, a man with close links to the IFE is made the council’s assistant chief executive despite being unqualified for the job, and the respected white chief executive is summarily sacked. In undercover filming, senior IFE activists boast of their “consolidated… influence and power” over the council.  The local Labour MP, Jim Fitzpatrick, tells us that his party has been “infiltrated” by the IFE.

May: Lutfur is replaced by the Labour group as council leader. The IFE-linked assistant chief executive is forced to resign. However, the IFE now aims to “get one of our brothers” into the powerful new directly-elected mayoral post that is to replace the council leadership in October.

July/August: Lutfur is excluded from Labour’s shortlist for the mayoral candidacy, but goes to court to force his reinstatement. The solicitor he uses was closely connected to the al-Qaeda-supporting group, al-Muhajiroun, and signed a fatwa calling for a “full-scale war of jihad” against Britain and the US.

September 3: In filmed interviews (transcripts here), local residents tell how Lutfur has personally signed up their entire families as sham Labour members to win selection as the party’s mayoral candidate.

September 4: Lutfur is selected as the Labour candidate.

September 15: Evidence is submitted by one of the defeated candidates and others to Labour’s National Executive Committee detailing Lutfur’s links with the IFE and a powerful local businessman, Shiraj Haque, and alleging massive fraud in the selection.

September 18: Lutfur is accused of failing to declare thousands of pounds in donations from Shiraj Haque – a criminal offence, if true. We have been asked to point out that Lutfur was later sent a police letter saying that there was "no case to answer." However, the complainant, Cllr Peter Golds, insists that the police never investigated the matter seriously.

September 21: Labour’s NEC sacks Lutfur as the candidate.

September 25: Lutfur stands as an independent. Under Labour Party rules, he is automatically expelled from the party. Six of the people whosign his nomination papers have the same names as senior office-holders and trustees of the IFE.

October 15: Thousands of copies are distributed of publicity material smearing Lutfur’s Labour opponent as a wife-beater and an enemy of Islam. The chief coordinator of Lutfur’s campaign, Bodrul Islam, later says that the material was produced by people “embedded” in the Rahman campaign and with its full knowledge.

October 19: Ken Livingstone, Labour candidate for mayor of London, who has also benefited from IFE support, and been personally paid money by Lutfur's council, campaigns for Lutfur against his own party’s candidate.

October 21: Lutfur Rahman elected mayor. The chief coordinator of his election campaign, Bodrul Islam, later says that the new mayor had a "strategic relationship" with the IFE and "most of [Lutfur's] campaigners during the election were either Respect or IFE activists."

October 28: Lutfur furious as the council votes to deny him a 98 per cent pay rise, awarding instead a 71 per cent rise. One of his key supporters, Cllr Oli Rahman, describes it as a “cynical” attempt to “undermine the mayor.”

November 3: Tower Hamlets places CDs of sermons by an extremist Islamic preacher, Abdurraheem Green, in the Town Hall reception area. Green believes that “Islam is not compatible with democracy” and that a husband should have the right to administer "a very light beating” to his wife.

November 10: Lutfur appoints Alibor Choudhury, a former employee of an IFE front organisation with a long track record of encounters with the police, to the key post of cabinet member for finance. Alibor was committed for trial for violent disorder in 2006, but the case was dropped due to what he insists was an “abuse of process.” (Lutfur’s cabinet was, and remains, 100 per cent Bengali, in a borough which is only about 35% Bengali.)

November 14: Lutfur fails to turn up to Tower Hamlets’ annual Remembrance ceremony at the borough’s man war memorial, despite promising to attend. All the borough’s other civic leaders make it. The following year (see Oct 10, 2011 below) he will make front-page news by trying to hire out the war memorial grounds for City bankers’ Christmas piss-ups.

November: Lutfur’s publicly-funded political adviser at Tower Hamlets, Kazim Zaidi, anonymously writes a chapter in an Exeter University reportattacking Lutfur's critics and libelling six senior figures in the Tower Hamlets Labour Party and the local Labour MP as racists. The university is forced to withdraw the report and issue a grovelling apology.

December 2010- February 2011: At council meetings, Shiraj Haque and a crowd of other Lutfur supporters shout homophobic abuse at the mayor’s opponents from the public gallery. They abuse Peter Golds, the Tory leader, as “Mrs Golds” and a “poofter.” They heckle another gay councillor, Labour’s Josh Peck, and a gay local resident speaking at the meeting with animal noises and cries of “Unnatural acts! Unnatural acts!”

January 27 2011: An official Labour Party inquiry finds a “concerted effort” to add fake members to the party during the campaign to select Labour’s candidate for the Tower Hamlets mayoralty.

February 23: Lutfur’s voting bloc on the council passes a motion to “campaign against the pariah state of Israel.”

March 8: Lutfur gives a character reference on Town Hall notepaper for Zamal Uddin, a minicab driver who had six weeks earlier pleaded guilty to a serious sexual assault on a woman passenger. When the press finds out, he claims that he did not know the nature of Uddin’s crime before agreeing to provide the reference.

March: Shiraj Haque is appointed chair of the advisory board for a major council-subsidised festival, the Baishakhi Mela. The council had previously removed him from all involvement with the festival and severed relations after allegations, which he denies, of massive financial irregularities and immigration fraud, with the Mela used as a front to bring in illegal immigrants under the guise of performers.

April 4: Shiraj Haque’s premises are raided by police investigating a major counterfeit wine ring.

April 5: Disclosure logs reveal that the council is paying £50,000 a month of taxpayers’ money to three front organisations for the IFE.

April 12: One of Lutfur’s key supporters, Cllr Shelina Akhtar, is charged with fraud. (She already has one conviction for the same offence.)

April 17:  The council’s official propaganda newspaper, East End Life, runs a series of adverts for a training centre closely connected to Anjem Choudhury, the al Qaeda supporter who runs the extremist group al-Muhajiroun.

April 27: Lutfur takes a number of council staff paid by the taxpayer tocampaign for the Labour Party in a parliamentary byelection. The District Auditor is called in.

May 8: Lutfur and Shiraj Haque turn the taxpayer-funded Baishakhi Mela festival into a platform for Ken Livingstone, who makes the keynote speech attacking Boris Johnson.

June 8: Defying a new local authority publicity code against taxpayer-subsidised council “Pravdas,” Lutfur rules that East End Life will continue publishing, at a cost to the public purse of around £1.3 million a year.

June 17: As the council passes budget cuts of £70 million, Lutfur spends £115,000 to refurbish his personal office and treble it in size.

July 4: One of Lutfur’s cabinet, Oli Rahman, appears on a platform with a group campaigning for the “unacceptability of homosexuality.” Lutfur has earlier pledged “zero tolerance” against a wave of homophobic attacks in the borough.

July 14: Lutfur acquires a luxury Mercedes and council-employed chauffeur at a cost to council taxpayers of up to £60,000 a year. No other elected mayor in London, Boris Johnson included, has an official car.

July 22: Tower Hamlets loses its second chief executive in two years as its top official, Kevan Collins, quits for a lower-paid job. He praises councillors (but not Lutfur) in his resignation statement.

August 7: The Telegraph reveals that Shiraj Haque has been given a Tower Hamlets council house at the subsidised rent of £135 a week, even though he is a multi-millionaire owning at least eight properties worth around £5 million.

August 8: As riots sweep London, Tower Hamlets’ enforcement officers are given the day off.

Sept 12: Lutfur scraps the official car of the borough’s ceremonial mayor and tells him to travel to functions, in his robes and gold chain, by taxi.

Oct 10: Tower Hamlets hits the front pages after hiring out its war memorial garden for City bankers’ Christmas parties. The decision is reversed after a storm of protest.

Oct 12: The council’s official newspaper, East End Life, promotes an extremist preacher previously banned from speaking on council premises.

Nov 18: A key Lutfur ally, Shah Yousuf, appears in court on criminal charges under the Representation of the People Act for producing the smear leaflets falsely claiming that Lutfur’s main opponent, Labour’s Helal Abbas, is a wife-beater and enemy of Islam (see Oct 15, 2010.) The leaflets were produced with the Lutfur campaign’s full knowledge, according to the chief coordinator of the campaign. The charges are later mysteriously dropped.

Dec 20: An eight-month campaign of complaints by Lutfur to the Press Complaints Commission about our coverage fails, when the PCC rules that he can be described as “extremist-linked” or “extremist-...

Dec 20: The Telegraph publishes Companies House records showing that Lutfur’s cabinet member for the environment, Cllr Shahed Ali, hasavoided £25,000 in tax by liquidating his restaurant business, which immediately reopens under a new name and carries on trading as normal throughout. He uses the proceeds of the tax avoidance to buy himself a Porsche.

Dec 21: The Telegraph reveals leaked Tower Hamlets documents showing that Hira Islam, a Tower Hamlets council officer who is also a key figure in the Islamic Forum of Europe, Lutfur’s extremist backers, has been disciplined by the council for interfering with the May 2010 parliamentary and local government elections. Hira Islam is given only a written warning but the man who first exposed the scandal, the former council leader Helal Abbas, is suspended from the council for “breaching confidentiality” – after a complaint by Hira Islam!

Dec 22: The Telegraph publishes pages written on a social networking website by Lutfur’s cabinet member for culture, Cllr Rania Khan, in which she publishes pictures of knives, declaring: “I know it’s not ladylike, but I luv my weapons,” mocks gay people and backs extremist clerics.

Jan 9 2012: One of Lutfur’s key supporters, Cllr Shelina Akhtar, isconvicted of benefit fraud – against her own council – for the second time in eighteen months. Despite pleading guilty, she refuses to give up her council seat and Lutfur refuses to call for her resignation until eight days later.

January: A gay pub in Limehouse, the White Swan, says it faces closure after Lutfur proposes to ban its popular amateur strip night.

Feb 6: Shelina Akhtar is finally forced to give up her seat after being jailed for 16 weeks.

Feb 15: It emerges that Lutfur has hired a former adviser to Ken Livingstone, Tony Winterbottom, at a fee of £1000 a day. A key Livingstone crony, Murziline Parchment, is also hired as his chief of staff, even though council headhunters described her as “very unconvincing,” “disappointing” and “lacking in substance” in her interview for a previous Tower Hamlets role. In total, Lutfur employs 16 paid political advisers, more than any other council leader, the Mayor of London, any cabinet minister or the Prime Minister.

Feb 21: As the mayoral election approaches, new concerns are raised about vote fraud in Tower Hamlets after the electoral roll is found to contain up to 12 voters in the same small flat.

Feb: Lutfur refuses to answer questions from councillors at council meetings, with council officers explaining that to do so might breach his human rights.

March 21: It emerges that Lutfur has employed his election agent, Ghulam Robbani, a man with close links to the IFE, as a council advisor at a rate of £40 an hour. Freedom of Information requests show that he appears to have massively overbilled the council for his time, charging for instance £480 – 12 hours’ work – for attending an event that the other participants say only took 90 minutes. Robbani later resigns to stand as Lutfur’s candidate in the Spitalfields byelection caused by the jailing of Shelina Akhtar.

April 16: It emerges that one of the key figures in the IFE and East London Mosque, Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, is to be charged with war crimes for his alleged involvement in a campaign of abductions and mass murders while opposing Bangladeshi independence in 1971. He denies the charges, saying they are politically-motivated.

April 19: Lutfur’s candidate, Ghulam Robbani, narrowly wins the Spitalfields byelection on an unusually high turnout, despite heavy rain throughout polling day. There is a late surge of applications for postal votes: in one large block, Brune House, Brune Street, the number of people with postal votes more than doubled in the two weeks before polling day. Turnout of postal voters is extraordinarily high: in Brune House, for instance, it is 77 per cent.

April 21: Residents of Brune House tell the Telegraph that supporters of Robbani and Lutfur, including at least one councillor, “harvested” their votes, signing them up for postal votes and collecting the blank ballot papers which were then filled in for Robbani. Council and police investigations are launched.

April 26: The Telegraph reveals that a number of dead or imprisonedpeople have supposedly voted in the byelection.

May: Lutfur steps up his cult of personality. Pictures of him are attached to the sides of council dustcarts. New council headed notepaper is produced with his picture on it. Large banners featuring his face are put up across the borough, including one which covers up an internationally-famous mural on Brick Lane. It is only removed after the owner of the building threatens legal action.

May 27: Nineteen people are arrested at the British High Commission in Dhaka, Bangladesh, accused of attempted immigration fraud in connection with Shiraj Haque’s Baishaki Mela. They admit they paid an unspecified individual £10,000 for fake documents claiming they were attending the mela as stallholders.

July 8: Eight Lutfur-supporting councillors are expelled from the Labour Party in a clear sign that Lutfur will not be readmitted to the party.

July 16: Shiraj Haque is given a criminal caution for selling counterfeit wine in his restaurant.

September: Lutfur announces plans to dispose of a number of pubsowned by the council, including the Queen’s Head in Limehouse, which claims to be the inspiration for the Queen Vic in EastEnders. The pubs, some of the few left in the area, may now be forced to close.

October: The heritage selloff continues after Lutfur announces plans to auction Old Flo, a Henry Moore sculpture gifted by the artist to the people of the East End, claiming it is necessary to balance the books (it later emerges that the artwork may not even belong to the council.) At the same time, however, he announces a £2 million grants programme for “faith buildings” – mostly mosques – and £6 million of further grants to “community organisations,” many of them linked to his supporters, in addition to the large and continuing grants given to front bodies for the IFE.

Oct 7: Despite the council’s pleas of poverty, it emerges that a Tower Hamlets officer has charged taxpayers £855 for two first-class rail tickets to attend a conference in Manchester. This is six times the standard walk-on fare and enough for a return flight to Australia. Some of the money is later repaid.

Dec 21: Defying Lutfur, councillors accept an offer of UN-style “support”from the Local Government Association after the departure of several key white officials and the repeated failure to appoint a new chief executive. Whitehall mulls intervention as the local government minister, Brandon Lewis, expresses “concern” over the situation in Tower Hamlets.

Jan 16 2013: Ken Livingstone is ridiculed by Labour’s National Executive Committee as he urges it to readmit Rahman and allow him to fight next year’s Tower Hamlets election as a Labour candidate.

Jan 16: The former local government minister, Bob Neill, accuses Lutfur and the council’s assistant chief executive, Isabella Freeman, of bringing the local government standards regime into “serious disrepute” by using it to bully, hound and threaten their opponents on the council on trumped-up charges. Councillors vote to discipline Freeman for her "bias," but it makes no difference and she continues exactly as before.

Jan 23: The broadcasting watchdog, Ofcom, censures five Bengali TV channels after Lutfur’s allegedly cash-strapped council spends thousands of pounds on adverts promoting the mayor, up to 15 times every day for two weeks. Ofcom said: “The purpose of the advertisement was not to inform and educate the public [but] to promote the Mayor in a positive light.”

Let’s hope, at least, that Lutfur didn’t have to pay for his puff-piece in the Guardian.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/andrewgilligan/100200249/lutfur-r...

Government accuses Lutfur Rahman of 'divisive community politics' and 'mismanagement of council staff and resources'

The extremist-linked mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman (above), is under deepening pressure on all fronts today. His attempt to abuse the local government standards code to hound one of his most effective opponents, Cllr Peter Golds (see my account of it here) has humiliatingly collapsed, leaving council taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds out of pocket.

From the Labour side, the party’s leader in Tower Hamlets, Josh Peck, today attacked the council as a “basket case” suffering a “massive failure of governance, with some ...Even Lutfur’s newly-crowned Young Mayor of Tower Hamlets, 16-year-old Mahdi Alam, has got himself into bother after posting threats to kill on Twitter. The lad’ll fit right in!

But the most important intervention of all came from the local government minister, Brandon Lewis. Yesterday, the Tower Hamlets Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick had the answer to his Commons question about Lutfur’s misuse of taxpayers’ money on dozens of illegal propaganda TV commercials for himself (sharply condemned by the regulator, Ofcom.)

In his response, Mr Lewis went further than ever in condemning Lutfur’s regime. He called the illegal broadcasts “further evidence of a worrying pattern of divisive community politics and mismanagement of council staff and resources by the mayoral administration.”

This is striking stuff, which deserves to be heeded and quoted whenever Lutfur is mentioned. (For the benefit of new readers, he was elected with the close help of an Islamic extremist group, the IFE, which believes in turning Britain into a sharia state under Islamic law. In office, he has recruited people with close links to the IFE to key council positions, and channelled millions of pounds of taxpayers' money to IFE front organisations. For a full account of Lutfur's many controversies, see here.)

The minister also said that the Government was looking at putting the local authority publicity code – which bans taxpayer-funded propaganda newspapers like Lutfur’s East End Life – on a statutory basis to stop Tower Hamlets and a couple of other boroughs ignoring it. Great idea, Mr Lewis – but act soon. East End Lies will be Lutfur’s key weapon at the local elections, which are only 15 months away.

Lutfur Rahman's £3000 on taxis in 2 months. This despite being the mayor of one of the best-connected boroughs, in a city with a world-famous transit system.  He crowed about getting the Boris Bikes scheme put into Tower Hamlets, but clearly never uses them himself. 

http://trialbyjeory.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/the-mcdonalds-mayor-lu...

Some of these short hops around his fiefdom are so exhorbitant that people have asked whether or not he travelled by helicopter-taxi.

Notice how Rahman equivocates in this answer:

Do you support a caliphate, here or elsewhere?
I believe in a social-democratic society. I believe in a society where, through a democratic process, representatives are chosen and elected.

http://www.newstatesman.com/uk-politics/2010/11/tower-hamlets-belie...

Hizb ut Tahrir's policy would fit in perfectly with that answer.

They propose to elect a Caliph, but only muslims would have the vote.  Other representatives (muslim only) would be elected to an advisory council.

Article 26
Every mature male and female Muslim, who is sane, has the right to participate in the election of the Khaleefah and in giving him the pledge (ba’iah). Non-Muslims have no right in this regard.

http://4freedoms.com/group/theology/forum/topics/hizb-ut-tahir-s-co...

If the questioner had been serious about getting an unambiguous answer, he would have pushed the point.  But then since the questioner believes that kuffar are herd animals, requiring leadership from muslims, Mehdi Hasan was not going to want Lutfur Rahman to give an unambiguous answer.

Tower Hamlets: Police ignore electoral fraud

By   Last updated: March 27th, 2013

It looks like something similar is now happening in respect of persistent allegations of postal vote fraud in Tower Hamlets, run by the extremist-linked mayor, Lutfur Rahman (above). At every major election in the borough in the last eight years, including before Lutfur took power, well-documented allegations of fraud have been made by very large numbers of people: many journalists (including me) and dozens of councillors from all parties (including some who now support Rahman). I myself have spoken on the record to plenty of victims, all named in my various stories. The response of the police has nearly always been the same – inadequate investigations followed by a clean bill of health.

Today the Electoral Commission publishes its report into the dozens of allegations of postal vote fraud and irregularity, some made by me, at the April 19 2012 byelection in Tower Hamlets’ Spitalfields ward, only a fortnight before the mayoral election in May. And the pattern of previous inadequate investigation appears to be repeating itself.

The byelection was narrowly won by Lutfur’s candidate (and former election agent and paid Tower Hall adviser) Gulam Robbani, a man with close connections to Lutfur’s extremist backers at the East London Mosque and no stranger to questionable paperwork (Freedom of Information requests show that Robbani appears to have massively overcharged the taxpayer for his Town Hall services.)

Here are some interesting facts about the Lutfur man’s win. Despite heavy rain throughout polling day, turnout (31 per cent) was extremely high for a council byelection (the previous byelection in the same ward, sixteen months before, had seen a turnout of 17 per cent). Only 14 per cent of people in Tower Hamlets at the time had postal votes – but 36 per cent of the votes cast at the Spitalfields byelection were postal. And that’s after 135 postal ballot papers were rejected by the counters, mainly because of doubts over their authenticity. Robbani’s margin of victory, by the way, was 43 votes.

Allegations of postal vote fraud and irregularity centred on, among other places, a council block called Brune House, in Bell Lane. In the two weeks between March 16 and April 4 (the deadline for registering for the byelection) the number of postal voters in this property more than doubled, from 34 to 71.  Fifty-five of those 71 postal votes were actually cast in the byelection – a turnout of 77 per cent. How did this run-down block turn into such a beacon of electoral participation and political involvement? Through a practice known as “vote-harvesting.”

I went from door to door in Brune House on polling day. The son of a resident in the block told me: “My mother normally votes down at the polling station but Gulam Robbani supporters came and got my mother to sign up for a postal vote. After the ballot paper arrived, this girl came into my mum’s house and asked her to hand it over. I was there at the time and saw it. Another guy came into the house too and they walked out with my mum’s blank ballot paper. My mum doesn’t speak English, she has no idea she’s not supposed to give her vote.”

A second voter in Brune House, Husneara Khanam, said that Mr Robbani's workers had collected her and her husband's vote. Another resident took a picture, which I have, of one of Mr Rahman's councillors, Aminur Khan, holding a sheaf of papers which the resident said were ballot papers, collected from Brune House voters. Brune House that day also contained several of the Tower Hamlets election “usual suspects,” such as the small flat which supposedly contained eight adults, all of whom had recently applied for postal votes.

Mr Khan categorically denied that he had been involved in collecting any ballot papers. Despite my repeated attempts to contact him, Gulam Robbani refused to comment.

Now the Electoral Commission report reveals the outcome of police investigations into the 64 complaints of electoral malpractice, including 18 complaints of postal vote fraud, made to the Met in respect of the 2012 Tower Hamlets elections. Even the Commission, one of Britain's feeblest regulators, could not deny that there has been a "breakdown of trust" between the people who run elections in Tower Hamlets and the wider political community.

But guess what? “Despite the large number of cases of alleged electoral fraud in Tower Hamlets which were reported to and investigated by the MPS [the Met], only a small number of allegations have been substantiated by evidence or statements by victims or witnesses. Investigations… have identified no evidence to suggest that there was any large scale attempt to affect the outcome of any of the April and May 2012 elections in Tower Hamlets.”

By pure coincidence, no doubt, this happily accords with the Electoral Commission's own verdict on the day the scandal was revealed – the "no evidence" line was being cranked out even before they'd had the investigation!

But look more closely at Appendix B of the report, which briefly describes 53 of the 64 cases, and the reasons the Met “identified no evidence” are often all too clear. First, in at least four (probably significantly more) of the cases, despite the claim that they were “investigated by the MPS,” the police do not appear to have done the investigation. They subcontracted their detective work to Tower Hamlets Council – in other words, to people working for Lutfur Rahman!

The most disturbing of these is numbered as case 6 in the report, and is one I first revealed in my original coverage. It involves a flat in Hobsons Place, Hanbury Street, and a man named Abdul Manik, who cast a postal vote in the byelection. Alas, when I called at the flat Mr Manik’s daughter, Jona, told me that he was (a) a long-term resident of Bangladesh, having lived there for several years; and (b) dead.

The Electoral Commission report states (para 2.21, page 12): “The MPS confirmed that they could find no evidence that offences had been committed” in this case. However, the description of the case in Appendix B (page 23) shows that this is untrue. The Met didn’t actually look for evidence, talk to the family or do the investigation – it was “the local authority” which did that.

Directly contradicting what Jona Malik told me, the council claimed that her father had been in Tower Hamlets until days previously, cast his postal vote, gone to Bangladesh and then at once died. This seems fairly unlikely, given that postal ballot papers are only issued just before polling day, but it would have been nice for the police to have actually investigated it themselves before dismissing the allegation.

Many other cases involving suspiciously large numbers of adults (seven, nine etc) squeezed into two and three-bedroom flats are breezily dismissed as having the residency numbers “confirmed” by the “2012 canvass” or “2013 canvass.” These canvasses, too, were presumably undertaken by Lutfur’s council, not the police.

Even where Plod did knock on some doors themselves, they don’t seem to have done it very vigorously. In another case, for instance, “the residents of the property where two postal votes were alleged to have been sent to and returned from were visited by officers investigating the allegation. They denied that they had applied to vote by post but would not agree to assist further with the enquiry. While it was possible that an offence may have been committed, the MPS was unable to substantiate the allegations or identify any potential suspects.”

In a third case, a property where two postal votes had been sent to and returned from “was confirmed as empty by the MPS investigation. It was not possible, however, to identify any potential suspects.”

How most police officers – outside Tower Hamlets – “identify potential suspects” is by asking “cui bono,” or who benefits. In this case, Cllr Robbani strikes me as a potential beneficary. Did they speak to him or his campaign workers? It doesn’t look like they did. Did they ask to Cllr Aminur Khan about his alleged role as a postal-vote harvester? Apparently no again. Nor, it seems, were several key witnesses approached. I could have put the Met in touch with any number of such people – but, you guessed it, I was never approached, either.

Did the cops, perhaps, examine these dodgy ballot papers for fingerprints and so on? No, “the MPS considered that submitting the returned postal ballot packs for forensic analysis would be unlikely to assist identification of suspects.” How did they know, I wonder, if they didn’t even try?

In numerous other cases listed, investigations did result in voters – many of whom voted in the April byelection – being removed from the register. In case 36, “seven people registered to vote at property who no longer reside. Four names deleted effective for May elections. No vote cast in any of the seven names at May elections. No offences.” But the election we’re most interested in was in April, not May, officer. On that election, case 36 maintains a discreet silence.

The Met’s lame performance on this is entirely in line with its general reluctance to disturb the worrying status quo in Tower Hamlets. In 2011, stickers promising Koranic vengeance against homosexuals and declaring the borough a “gay-free zone” appeared across the area. From very early on, as I documented, police had CCTV footage of an unidentified Muslim youth posting the stickers, but refused to release it for weeks and told campaigners they could not talk about it because they “did not want to upset” the Muslim community. When the images were finally released, the suspect was quickly identified and caught, though many were dissatisfied with the minor charge that was brought.

The police also did absolutely nothing to curb repeated homophobic abuse by Lutfur Rahman supporters against gay councillors – in Tower Hamlets’ own council chamber. One of the victims, Cllr Peter Golds, said at the time: “If that happened in a football stadium, arrests would have taken place. I have complained, twice, to the police, and have heard nothing. A Labour colleague waited three hours at the police station before being told that nothing would be done. The police are afraid of being accused of Islamophobia. Another Labour councillor said that the Met is now the reverse of what it must have been like in the 1970s, with a complete lack of interest when white people make complaints of harassment and hatred.”

The cops have also been accused of failing to take seriously repeated attempts by Muslim hardliners to impose “Islamic norms” about dress, hair covering, smoking during Ramadan and so on on local Muslims.

In short, the Met have a huge amount of ground to make up in Tower Hamlets. Their latest efforts have made no progress at all

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/andrewgilligan/100209215/tower-ha...

Tower Hamlets is only 35% muslim. Lutfur Rahman's "team" is 100% muslim.

Can you imagine the cries of "racism" and "discrimination" if the UK was 65% muslim, and the Cabinet of the government was 100% non-muslim?  That's exactly the situation in Tower Hamlets.

Even with less than 5% of the UK population being muslim, Cameron twisted his party's structure so that he could appoint a (non-elected) muslim, Baroness Warsi, to his Cabinet.

More double-standards from the muslims.  And the media and the Left keep quiet.  It's clear: muslims will not vote for non-muslims.  But the kafir are cattle, they will happily vote for muslims.  It's like turkeys voting to be slaughtered.

The fascists are tightening their grip - aided all the time by Ansar like the UAF.

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Muslim Terrorism Count

Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11

Mission Overview

Most Western societies are based on Secular Democracy, which itself is based on the concept that the open marketplace of ideas leads to the optimum government. Whilst that model has been very successful, it has defects. The 4 Freedoms address 4 of the principal vulnerabilities, and gives corrections to them. 

At the moment, one of the main actors exploiting these defects, is Islam, so this site pays particular attention to that threat.

Islam, operating at the micro and macro levels, is unstoppable by individuals, hence: "It takes a nation to protect the nation". There is not enough time to fight all its attacks, nor to read them nor even to record them. So the members of 4F try to curate a representative subset of these events.

We need to capture this information before it is removed.  The site already contains sufficient information to cover most issues, but our members add further updates when possible.

We hope that free nations will wake up to stop the threat, and force the separation of (Islamic) Church and State. This will also allow moderate Muslims to escape from their totalitarian political system.

The 4 Freedoms

These 4 freedoms are designed to close 4 vulnerabilities in Secular Democracy, by making them SP or Self-Protecting (see Hobbes's first law of nature). But Democracy also requires - in addition to the standard divisions of Executive, Legislature & Judiciary - a fourth body, Protector of the Open Society (POS), to monitor all its vulnerabilities (see also Popper). 
1. SP Freedom of Speech
Any speech is allowed - except that advocating the end of these freedoms
2. SP Freedom of Election
Any party is allowed - except one advocating the end of these freedoms
3. SP Freedom from Voter Importation
Immigration is allowed - except where that changes the political demography (this is electoral fraud)
4. SP Freedom from Debt
The Central Bank is allowed to create debt - except where that debt burden can pass across a generation (25 years).

An additional Freedom from Religion is deducible if the law is applied equally to everyone:

  • Religious and cultural activities are exempt from legal oversight except where they intrude into the public sphere (Res Publica)"

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