Tower Hamlets council tonight withdrew its hugely controversial plan to erect “hijab gates” at either end of Brick Lane – a £1.85 million exercise in “religious triumphalism,” according to angry residents, and one of the most obvious manifestations of the growing Islamist influence on the council. Tower Hamlets is increasingly infiltrated by a secretive group, the Islamic Forum of Europe, which wants to change the “very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed… from ignorance to Islam.”
It’s not a final victory. The official line is that the planning application has merely been withdrawn “to allow time to build on the extensive community engagement and consultation the council has already done.” That “community engagement,” by the way, revealed 158 objections to the arches, and not a single person in favour. The arches will probably be back – though probably not until after the elections. And who knows, maybe Tower Hamlets will look a bit different by then.
Although much of the white establishment is still running a little scared of the Telegraph/ Channel 4 Dispatches story about the infiltration of the IFE into politics – see my column in today’s print edition of the paper – the hijab arches development is not the only encouraging sign that the disclosures are starting to have an effect in the place where it matters.
On Thursday several local schools, which had been due to send children to an event called the “Big Read” at the IFE’s stronghold, the East London Mosque, announced their withdrawal. Many local headteachers have privately told us of their worry about the brand of Islam being peddled at the mosque. The event organisers were forced to send frantic texts, appealing for more children.
For every step forward, however, there is a step back. The BBC is one of the many bastions of the liberal British state to have fallen for the East London Mosque’s spin about its moderation and tolerance. Later today, Radio 4’s Any Questions will be broadcast live from the mosque – complete with a panel including two allies of Islamism, Ken Livingstone and the New Statesman’s Mehdi Hasan. What are the odds that the disclosures of the last few days won’t be on the agenda?