Although we didn’t know about this statement, our groups name has appeared on the bottom, while many members agree with the sentiments expressed within we are trying to also clarify the source:
“Against fascism in all its colours” – statement from Tower Hamlets activists
The entry of the English Defence League (EDL) into Tower Hamlets to protest against a meeting organized under the auspices of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) is a direct provocation to stir up racial tensions, foment dissent among faiths and attempt to bring disunity amongst the communities of the borough.
We condemn the fascist EDL whose sole objective is to act as storm troopers for the British National Party (BNP) and pick up the pieces for them after their miserable rout in the local and national elections in neighbouring Barking and Dagenham Council. Under the guise of being non-political and upholding “English” values they are propagating a virulent form of naked Islamophobia which is rejected by the communities of Tower Hamlets. We will do everything in our power to defend the peace in the borough, protect the lives of Muslims and ensure that the unity amongst all is maintained.
This borough has a rich tradition of successful challenge to fascist forces of the Blackshirts and the National Front. The Battle of Cable Street in the 30,s and the Struggle for Brick Lane following Altab Ali’s murder in the 70’s and the move to oust Derek Beackon in the 90’s is part of our common history. The values of universalism, anti-racism and no compromise with fascism inform our thinking and has become part of our existence. We will build on this rich tradition as we face Oswald Mosley’s grandchildren.
As we confront the fascist thugs of EDL we in the Bengali and the Muslim community are being asked to stand side by side with Islamic Forum in Europe (IFE). This we refuse to do. The IFE does not represent the Muslim community in Tower Hamlets. They do not uphold the glorious tradition of Cable Street, Altab Ali and the anti racist movement. Under the patronage of an exclusivist Islam emanating from Saudi Arabia they are attempting to impose it amongst the Bengalis in this borough.
Just as the EDL takes the guise of being ordinary English citizen to hide their true identity of fronting the fascist BNP so do IFE act as the sole representatives of ordinary Muslims but are in fact operating under the direction of their parent organisation Jamaat-e- Islami in Bangladesh. It is Jamaat that was party to the massacre of innocent Bangladeshis in the 1971 war of independence that establish the independent state of Bangladesh. A war Tribunal has been established in Bangladesh to try leaders of Jaamat-e- Islam who are IFE’s real ideological and organisational gurus. In other words IFE represent a virulent form of political Islam that is fascistic in nature like Jaamat Islam and verges on the anti-Semitic and is very exclusivist and undemocratic.
In defending the people of Tower Hamlets and especially the ordinary Muslims we do not have to defend IFE. EDL is attacking the Muslims of this borough and we must protect them. IFE must not be allowed to use this occasion to propagate their very reactionary version of political Islam.
We must also alert the entire community about the opportunist and divisive politics of IFE. Using this latest EDL threat to the local community, it is clear to us that the IFE brigade is trying to terrify the most vulnerable in our community – the Bangladeshi women and children into joining their ranks under the banner of ‘defending the Ummah’. It has come to our knowledge that IFE and its operatives have sent out mass e-mails, text messages and visited members of the community including young children in primary schools ask them to join forces and defend Muslims and East London Mosque from imminent threat of destruction.
All progressive forces must realize that the gut reaction to EDL is to defend everybody including IFE because they might be accused of being Islamophobic. But we boldly proclaim that it is not Islamophobic to have no trucks with the heirs of Fascist Jaamat. It is not Islamophobic to denounce the anti democratic credentials of IFE and their Saudi patrons. It is not Islamophobic to show solidarity with the Muslims of Tower Hamlets and their diverse representative organisations without marching under the leadership of IFE. We cannot be consistent in fighting the fascist EDL if we elect the “fascist” IFE as our Imam. In line with the best in the Islamic and Bengali tradition we reject the siren calls of IFE as we prepare to organise against EDL.
On behalf of:
Harmuz Ali (Bangladesh Welfare Association – BWA), Sajjadur Rahman (Brick Lane Mosque), Shamsuddin Shams (Altab Ali Memorial Foundation), Badrul Islam (Centre for Citizenship and Development (CCD), Akikur Rahman (Bangladesh Youth Association), Rajonuddin Jalal (London Bangladeshi Association), Ansar Ahmed Ullah (Nirmul Committee), Mahmoud Rauf (Brick Lane Business Association), Abdus Subhan Gedu (Banglatown Restaurant Association), Ethnic Minority Enterprise Project (EMEP), Abdul Ali Rauf (Chicksand Citizen’s Forum), Collective of Bangladeshi School Governors, Tower Hamlets Parents Centre, Tower Hamlets Parents Association, APASENTH, BYM, Nurul Islam (Kendrio Shaheed Minar Committee), Sundar Miah (Tarling Tenants & Residents Association), Nooruddin Ahmed (Bangladesh Youth League), Ruhul Amin (Progressive Youth Organisation), Taimus Ali (Bangladesh Youth Front), Shahab Uddin Ahmed Belal (Human Rights Secretary, Awami League), Cathy Forrester, Claire Murphy, Phil Maxwell, Terry Fitzpatrick (Blair Peach Project), Syed Sad Ahmed, Fanu Miah (Golden Moon Youth Project), Julie Begum (Swadhinata Trust), Amina Ali (international Forum for Secular Bangladesh), Sujit Sen (Liberation), Gita Sahgal, Subir Sinha, Alice Sielle (St. Barnabas church Bethnal Green), Imtiar Shamim (Muktangon: Nirman Blog), Rayhan Rashid (War Crimes Strategy Forum), Saikat Acharjee (WCSF), Nowrin Tamanna (University of Reading), Anisur Rahman Anis ( Bangladesh Human Rights Council UK), James Swapan Peris ( Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council- European committee), Whitechapel Anarchist Group, Ansarul Haque, Tower Hamlets Muslim Council & Jim Fitzpatrick MP Poplar and Limehouse.
Contact for further details:
Mr. Nurul Islam – 07984 610199 / 07836 332262
On behalf of UNITY PLATFORM AGAINST RACISM AND FASCISM
C/O Bangladesh Welfare Association, 39 Fournier Street, London E1 6QL