Every time we hold a demonstration you can count on the newspapers to quote some ‘community representative’ or local politician who insists that the EDL are not welcome.
It’s a familiar story – the town, city or region in question doesn’t have any problems with Islamic extremism and we shouldn’t be there spreading our ‘divisive’ message. It’s not right to demonise a whole community, they say, before launching into a tirade of abuse about how we’re racists, fascists, Islamophobes, or whatever else.
We have never sought to divide communities – we have Islamic extremism to thank for that. And we’re not demonising Muslims – again, we have Islamic extremism to thank for that.
We wish simply for the government, the media and British Muslims themselves to demonstrate a commitment to defeating the extremism that continues to grow within the Muslim community in Britain.
Only yesterday was it reported that Muslim soldiers who kidnapped journalists in Syria had Birmingham accents. This is what our country is breeding, and we want it to stop.
But apparently that message is divisive. How dare we think extremism is something worth protesting about? Do we not care about people’s feelings?
How dare we be concerned that some of our citizens are quite literally fighting for the enemy? How dare we be worried that the government’s approach to tackling Islamic extremism is doing little to reduce the threat of homegrown terrorism? And how dare we ask why there are so many forms of extremism associated with Islam?
Clearly, there are plenty of reasons to peacefully protest, and we intend to stay true to our promise to demonstrate wherever people have genuine concerns about the spread of Islamic extremism. But why Walthamstow in particular?
Over to our guest author Esme Weatherwax from New English Review, whose article about the EDL demonstration in Walthamstow was first published here.
Why Are The EDL Going To Walthamstow?
This article is about the London Borough of Waltham Forest which was formed in 1965 when the three Essex districts of Leyton, Walthamstow and Chingford were combined and included in the newly formed Greater London Council.
My family had moved to a street just on the border of Leyton and Walthamstow (near but not Boundary Road) a few years earlier. Leyton and Walthamstow was a lovely place to live with the open space of Epping Forest and the River Lea nearby. The River Lea was the boundary between the counties of Middlesex and Essex; it remains the boundary between LB Hackney and LB Waltham Forest. Chingford was more prosperous, almost glamorous with its golf club and Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge. Today Leyton and Walthamstow are very multicultural, Chingford remains more middle class and I know of many who live there who would dearly love to drop the other two towns, which they subsidise dearly in council tax, pull out of London entirely and re-join Essex County Council. It won’t happen, of course.
The EDL are holding their demonstration in Walthamstow, because it would be impossible to march through the whole borough, but the reasons for concern cover that whole area.
It is about much more than Anjem Choudary and his acolytes and the various groups they have formed over the years. But I will start with them. But where exactly do I start? The beginning is a good place but where and when did it begin? For me it was the summer of 1976 when the National Front held a demonstration against the plans to turn a former carpet and textile factory in Lea Bridge Road into a mosque. My mother joined the counter demonstration, believing that everybody has a right to worship God and that a mosque would be no different to the Catholic churches of the Irish and Italian immigrants, the Gospel churches of the West Indians and the Synagogues of the Jews. I was so proud of her.
That became the Jamia Mosque. Little did I know that less than 10 years later that this mosque would hang a banner on its front wall saying ‘God is only one, HE HAS NO SON’ which I found so offensive, and was the beginning of a realisation that Islam was not a religion willing to live and let live. The mosque has not, so far as I know, been the centre of any terrorist plots. It has been the subject of a power struggle in recent years and produced a sadistic Imam and teacher, Gulam Hussein who was jailed two years ago for beating the children sent to him for religious teaching.
On the same site as the Jamia Mosque is the Active Change Foundation. This organisation is much praised for the efforts it makes in work to prevent radicalisation of youth. What those worthies handing out the praise forget is that it used to be the PO address for Islam4UK and before that hosted meetings of Al Muhajiroun including live video links to Omar Bakri.
When Al Muhajiroun, founded by Omar Bakri and Anjem Choudary, was banned it became Islam 4 UK. Then Muslims Against Crusades (MAC), then Sharia 4 UK, then United Ummah (or was it Ummah United?) I believe the ACF to be the centre of a lot of anti-democracy, pro sharia propaganda over the last 5 years or more.
Anjem’s boys are still in town – I’ll cover their latest project at the end.
The first Muslims in the area were among the expelled east African Asians who included Hindus and Sikhs who settled during the 1960s. I can attest that they were good neighbours, and pleasant classmates. But after 1979, and the Iranian revolution may have had something to do with it the western clothes sprinkled with shalwar kameez and gorgeous saris began to give way to hijabs and abayas for the women, long coats and beards for the men. Then the hijabs became niqabs, and the niqabs became burkas. The mosques grew larger, more elaborate and more numerous.
Unlike Tower Hamlets the Muslims do not control the council and a multi-million pound budget. There are still Hindus and Sikhs although I believe many joined the exodus into Essex. There are a lot of black Christians, a lot of Poles and east Europeans as well as the indigenous population. The black Evangelical churches have the confidence to evangelise in Walthamstow High Street, near where the Islam 4 UK da’wa stall used to be. It isn’t the weight of numbers of Islam, numerous though they are; it is who they are and what they have plotted.
Their claim to the area was made clear in 2006 when Abu Izzadeen aka Trevor Brooks stood in the sports pavilion at the cricket ground and heckled John Reid the then Home Secretary with ‘How dare you come to this Muslim area’. Izzadeen, who was born in Hackney, converted to Islam as a teenager and now lives in Leytonstone was released from prison last year after serving a sentence for funding terrorism.
I won’t go on at too much length about Anjem Choudary who used to live in Colchester Road, opposite the Noor ul Islam Mosque in Leyton High Road. This is him in action in Leyton explaining what Sharia will do for our traditional way of life.
Last summer the Noor ul Islam mosque held a summer fete on the same cricket ground and imposed their dress code, issuing women wearing sleeveless summer blouses with mosque shirts, high of neck and long of sleeve.
They also hold Muslim only swimming sessions at the Leyton Leisure Lagoon Swimming pool. In common with many pools the Leisure Lagoon has sessions, both pool and gym, especially for women, the over 55s, the under 18s, beginners etc. The difference is that these are Muslim only sessions and run to exact Islamic rules.
- Sisters who are not dressed in accordance with Islamic dress code (suitable garment covering the whole body from the neck to the feet or approved swimwear) will be asked to leave the session.
- No boys over the age of two will be allowed in the sisters’ session.
- Only Female Lifeguards on duty for sisters’ session.
- We are selling approved Swimwear for girls & Sisters.
- Brothers who are not dressed in accordance with Islamic dress code (covered from navel to knees) will be asked to leave the session.
- No girls of any age will be allowed in the brothers’ session.
- Only Male Lifeguards on duty for brothers’ session.
The Noor ul Islam Mosque sprawls a little further up Leyton High Road every time I visit. Having expanded into several shop fronts, some of which include Islamic bookshops they bought the builders yard next door in 2010 although they don’t seem to have begun developing it yet.
No one who was there will forget the 11th November 2010 when the Muslims Against Crusades defiled Remembrance Day by burning poppies. That took place in Kensington but it was planned and conceived in Waltham Forest by men who live and worship there.
Advertising posters of women modelling non Islamic swimwear were defaced at Walthamstow Central earlier this summer. Picture submitted by a resident to the local MP.
The Muslims in Great Britain website lists 18 mosques in Waltham Forest. Another mosque is the Masjid-al-Tawhid further up Leyton High Road. This mosque was mentioned in the Channel Four Dispatches documentary Undercover Mosque.
Suhaib Hasan, the senior imam was heard encouraging violence against women, homosexuals and non-Muslims, and recommending “The chopping of the hands of the thieves, the flogging of the adulterers. . . Then jihad against the non-Muslims” This is a transcript of the three programmes.
He is also the senior Judge of the nearby Sharia Court. His interview with the Financial Times in 2009 when he praised the virtues of Sharia law over that of the English Common Law is no longer available on the FT website. However I made notes.
Dr Hasan’s son is Dr Usama Hasan (a genuine doctorate in physics and engineering) He spoke at the Mosque last year about his belief in the compatibility of Darwin’s theory of Evolution with Islamic belief that life was created by Allah. “Many believers in God have no problem with an obvious solution: that God created man via evolution”. He also does not believe that the veil is imperative for women. Worshippers at the mosque which he had attended for 25 years called for him to suffer the death penalty. He retracted his statement, increased his family’s security and now keeps a low profile. His father’s reaction to his son’s liberal beliefs is unknown to me.
The Masjid-al-Tawhid is currently under investigation by the Charity Commission over suspected links to terrorism. The mosque has hosted Abu Qatada and Anwar al-Awlaki, more recently Haitham al-Haddad who inspired the underpants bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The current administration of the mosque claim that they had nothing to do with the invitations to these speakers, and that these allegations of terrorist links are being made by disaffected elements within the mosque. Whether they mean Usama Hasan I don’t know. We shall see in due course.
The Masjid e Umar Mosque (left) in Queens Road used to be a Synagogue. At first the mild mannered men who were my neighbours worshipped there. By 1989 Omar Bakri was active on site, until Tablighi Jamaat took over and threw him out. More land was purchased and a forbidding new building took its place. A minaret that resembles a scud missile looms over the nearby Victorian cemetery. That building and some of the terraced houses opposite were the centre, although the mosque trustees denied it, of the 2006 plot to bring down aircraft flying from UK to USA using liquid bombs secreted in baby milk and other innocent containers. The Times found out that it had been a recruiting ground for terrorists for 20 years.
The call to reject freedom and democracy and embrace sharia is not recent. This one was spotted outside the Masjid al Tawhid in April 2011.:
I have seen posters to that effect as long ago as 2007 when my husband and I spotted these (below) on a lamppost just outside the Active Change Foundation on the corner of Lea Bridge Road and Northumberland Road.
One unusual mosque in Walthamstow Old village in what used to be the GPO sorting office is the Sakina Islamic Centre which is a Shia Twelver Mosque. It was said to be the only mosque in the country with a cross above it, carved into the Royal Coat of Arms of the old Post Office, alongside which the black flag flew. It used to be noted for its strong women’s involvement with a smaller male area and a reputation for great cooking. The website currently shows very little of the women’s activity in contrast to a few years ago; I fear that there may have been changes.
Waltham Forest has more than its fair share of ‘honour’ violence and rape. This is a brief selection.
Only last month a man was convicted of killing his brother’s wife because ‘she was too powerful’. To quote the prosecution, in this “house of traditional patriarchal values. . . As astonishing as it seems, the first two defendants, both older men, believed that a women was disposable if she became too powerful.”
Two years ago Awais Akram nearly died when his girlfriend’s family poured drain cleaner down his throat in an attack she helped set up, presumably to save her own skin.
Rizwan Ahmad and Hassan Siddique both of Walthamstow were convicted of raping a young student in an alley off Lea Bridge Road in 2011. Sentencing, Judge Owen told the two rapists: ‘What you did was despicable. Your story was simply ludicrous. . . Jailing Ahmad for 10 years, and Siddique for eight-and-a-half years, Judge Owen added: ‘If it is necessary I will recommend most strongly that you are deported at the conclusion of your sentence.’
In 2009 Mehmet Goren was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his daughter 10 years ealrier. His brothers in Walthamstow were suspected but not convicted, of assisting him after a family conference about how to deal with their westernised niece . Her body has never been found.
Halal is ubiquitous. No matter how carefully the council may paint the shops at the Olympic end of Leyton High Road in terracotta and bottle green to make them look like boutiques nothing can disguise their content of halal fast chick and cheap phone deal to Pakistan.
The Brothers latest project is the “No to Prostitution” campaign to rid Lea Bridge Road of prostitutes. There is a cheap(ish) motel at the Bakers Arms end of this very long road which I know from other sources has a problem in that it attracts both drug dealers and ladies of negotiable affection. The motel is on two sites either side of the road. One site was a petrol garage, the other a ladder factory. The current land usage in and around Lea Bridge Road is the history of the decline of British manufacturing in microcosm.
Were I still living in my old home I would not find a red light district in the next street comfortable – and I dread to think what my late mother would have made of it. But da Bruvverz are ignoring the unpalatable fact that many of the ladies customers are (I have this on good authority) Muslim men, and that not all women walking along the pavement are prostitutes. And they don’t deserve such abuse even if they are. This is the local paper reporting on the campaign.
They also claim that kerb crawling and prostitution are a problem in Queens Road and the St James area. This is denied by local residents who have made some very instructive comments. I can tell you that Queens Road and roads thereof no longer have any pubs. All the shops are Muslim run, the mosque dominates. The inhabitants of the cemetery and Coroner’s office are unlikely customers. That leaves the newly opened Primary school built to accommodate the rising population on the old arts centre. It must be all those marriageable 9 year olds causing trouble. Oh and the men who flock in and out of the mosque.
Abu Usamah one of the organisors said: “The situation has got out of control. If you come here at night there are lots of scantily clad women and kerb crawlers all over the place. . . . We’ve already gone out a few times with cameras to try it out. Due to the strength of the community among Muslims here I think it is unlikely any of us will get hurt. We are all Muslims but of course we are appealing for the wider community to get involved.”
Usamah invites readers to watch the videos of their nights of action in June. “Dirty prostitutes off our streets” has a familiar rhythm.
Chingford may not escape – plans were mooted to extend the mosque there. Waltham Forest is not a borough with much claim to fame, other than Leyton Orient FC of course, but things plotted and hatched there have had international consequences.