The Labour-controlled London borough of Newham has made the important and valuable decision to deny the use of its facilities to the fundamentalist, Muslim supremacist group, the Islamic Forum of Europe.
The IFE – which controls the hardline East London Mosque, host of many terrorist sympathisers and hate preachers – openly advocates Sharia law in Europe and the destruction of democracy. Last year, one London Labour MP, Jim Fitzpatrick, accused it of infiltrating and “corrupting” his party in the same way as Militant in the 1980s.
Fitzpatrick’s brave decision to speak out started the process of Labour cleansing itself of the snake. First, the party sacked its leader in Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, as a mayoral candidate, expelled him from the party, and voted to boycott his administration when he was elected as an independent. Lutfur, as even one of his senior campaign coordinators has now said, is deeply in bed with the IFE.
Now Newham, as the Harry’s Place blog reports, has reaffirmed its decision to bar the IFE. They originally tried to book the council’s Old Stratford Town Hall for a meeting in September, but were refused because of “activity and statements that had been made by individuals who were associated with the organisation or previous events it had organised” which might conflict with the council’s “duty to promote equality and maintain community cohesion.” The IFE appealed against the decision; the decision has been upheld.
Sir Robin Wales, the directly-elected mayor of Newham, has a good record against extremism. He and his Labour counterpart in Hackney, Jules Pipe, have refused to work with Lutfur. The IFE has made little secret of the fact that after Tower Hamlets, its next target is the heavily-Muslim borough of Newham. The council clearly doesn’t want to let that happen.
One disturbing feature of this story, however, is that the IFE did not book the Town Hall under its own name, but in the name of a body called TELCO, the East London chapter of the community organising group London Citizens (though the IFE didn’t use TELCO’s address, which is what triggered the council’s suspicions in the first place.)
London Citizens are good people, regularly praised by mainstream politicians. But they have the significant problem that the IFE and East London Mosque are deeply embedded within TELCO. London Citizens’ lead organiser, Neil Jameson, has become the principal non-Muslim whom the IFE and mosque wheel out in their defence (indeed, virtually the only one remaining, outside the ranks of the far left and a single, eccentric Tory member of the London Assembly.) Their membership appears directly contrary to TELCO’s declared aims of democratic decisionmaking and of promoting equal respect and dignity for all, regardless of faith – things the IFE definitely doesn’t believe in.
With the important exception of the mayoral election in Tower Hamlets, the political tide in East London may be turning against the Islamic fundamentalists. The worry, though, is that as one mainstream, democratic institution – the Labour Party – becomes more hostile to them, they are, as with this room booking, using another essentially decent group, London Citizens, as cover.