Tower Hamlets Demonstration – 3rd September 2011
Next week’s demonstration in Tower Hamlets is going ahead, despite the Home Secretary, Theresa May, banning the intended march, and forcing us to hold a static demonstration.
We will gather at muster points, and then be escorted to the demo site by the police. Please remember that they are there to help facilitate the demonstration and to prevent any UAF ‘counter-protestors’ from disrupting the event.
We are working with the police, and would encourage anyone who intends to join us on the day to be cooperative and respectful – anything less would detract from the reasons why we are going to Tower Hamlets.
The demonstration has been a long time coming, and so it’s probably worth reminding everyone of the reasons why Tower Hamlets was chosen. The London Borough was famously described as Britain’s Islamic Republic, and perhaps more so than anywhere else in country, it illustrates that the dangers of the unchecked growth of radical Islam: divided communities, extremism, and politicians looking increasingly clueless.
In an article originally published in October 2010 we highlighted numerous cases which demonstrate how Tower Hamlets has become not only an Islamic ghetto, but a place where radical Islam is increasingly calling the shots. ‘Islamisation’ may not always be a term that is easy to define, but for the residents of Tower Hamlets it is an everyday reality.
That alone is something worth protesting about. But for anyone who is still wondering why the EDL are going to Tower Hamlets, we’ve compiled our top ten reasons:
1. To stand up for freedom of speech
We believe that radical Islam, the government’s response to it, and the wider Muslim community’s continued failure to seriously come to terms with it, are all worthy of criticism. These are already good reasons to protest. But the moment fair-minded criticism is censored, the more important it becomes. The more the concerns of ordinary people are ignored or demonised, the more important it becomes that their voices are heard. We will do our best to represent all of those people, and make the criticisms that need to be heard.
2. Because England should not have any no go zones
If there are areas of the country where people fear to go, then it is important that we demonstrate to those who would impose these segregated ghettos upon us that their divisive and supremacist ideas are not welcome here.
3. Because England certainly shouldn’t have any Sharia zones
Sharia, the Islamic Law that The European Court of Human Rights has ruled “incompatible with the fundamental principles of democracy”, and under which non-Muslims and women are treated as second class citizens, would likely see those found guilty of homosexuality or apostasy (leaving Islam) face the death penalty. Of course, we’re a long way off the formal adoption of anything so extreme, but with an increasing number of Sharia courts being allowed to rule on family matters, and fanatics claiming that they will police the Tower Hamlets ‘Sharia Zone’, the time has come to send a very clear message: no Sharia here!
4. To protest against the tide of violence and discrimination that has erupted in Tower Hamlets
Whether it’s the threat of violence by Sharia-advocates, the harassment of women who do not choose to wear the headscarf, the continuing attacks on homosexuals, or even the vicious attack on an RE teacher for daring to teach Muslim girls, there are no shortage of examples of how radical Islam continues to inspire intolerance, discrimination and violence. But what is being done to address the problem?
5. To oppose radical Islam
When people think of radical Islam, they often think of the extremists who are willing to go to such lengths that they become involved in acts of terrorism. But for this kind of extremism to be possible there has to be a background of radical opinion. There has to be a culture, an atmosphere, and an underlying radical ideology that gives birth to these Islamic extremists, and which is responsible for a series of lesser crimes. This is exactly what is growing in Tower Hamlets.
6. To expose how deeply entrenched radical Islam has become in Tower Hamlets
The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, was elected amongst a storm of controversy and was supported by a number of unpleasant characters, including ‘Red’ Ken Livingstone and George Galloway. Although openly regarded as an extremist by the Conservative Party, they’ve not as yet managed to dislodge him. Rahman was also aided in his mayoral campaign by the Islamic Forum of Europe, a Supremacist Islamist organisation that fully supports the implementation of Sharia, and has considerable influence over the controversial East London mosque, which is known for routinely hosting hate preachers. The Islamic Forum of Europe is incredibly active within Tower Hamlets, and their youth division, the inventively-named Young Muslim Organisation, is based in the area. It is these types of organisations that the media and politicians must do a great deal more to expose.
7. To maintain our commitment to peaceful protest.
If simply exercising our democratic right to peaceful protest exposes us to hatred and hostility, then it is important that we are not intimidated, that we do not give up, and that we recognise that our opponents’ actions will do more to damn them than our criticism ever could. Keep Calm and Carry On!
8. To combat and expose misrepresentation of our goals
There will still be those who claim that we have no genuine interest in exposing radical Islam and are, instead, only interested in demonising all Muslims, dividing our communities, or ‘stirring up trouble’. This could not be further from the truth. We represent people from diverse communities who would be horrified at the idea of discriminating against people simply on the grounds of their religion (or even their race). The accusation that we are just troublemakers is simply offensive, because it dismisses legitimate concerns and perpetuates a dangerous stereotype of all critics of Islam as mindless thugs. These empty claims say more about our critics than they do about the EDL, and we hope to make that clear come Saturday.
9. To expose the failings of the government’s counter-extremism initiatives
The government should embrace a peaceful, anti-extremist movement that not only represents the views of tens of thousands of people, but which also plays a key role in combating the supposed rise of far Right extremism. The very fact that they do not demonstrates that politicians’ have their priorities completely wrong. They would rather engage with Islamic extremists than they would listen to the country’s largest anti-extremist protest movement. Hopefully they will begin to listen this time.
10. Because we owe it to everyone who has suffered at the hands of radical Islam, or has had their freedoms curtailed because they have made criticisms that members of the political establishment have not wanted to address
Whatever our critics may claim motivates our supporters, we know that we represent decent, ordinary people. We do not represent people of any particular colour or creed, and we do not subscribe to any one political ideology. Black, white, gay, straight, Left, Right, Muslim, non-Muslim: all should be united against radical Islam, all should be permitted to speak, and all are welcome to protest under the EDL banner.
We look forward to welcoming our international supporters, many of whom will recognise how important freedom of speech is if we are to formulate successful strategies for combating radical Islam. We also look forward to meeting members of the local community and speaking with new supporters.
The only divisions we wish to create in Tower Hamlets are between radical Islam and the rest of the community. Radical Islam can only be expelled from this country if its grip on the Muslim community is loosened, and for that we need the help of government, the media, and British Muslims.
It’s about time they all stepped up to the mark.
Tower Hamlets is probably our most important demonstration yet. The eyes of the world’s media will be upon us, so let’s make it a good one!