With attention presently focused on the London borough of Tower Hamlets over allegations of massive voting fraud and other corruptions in yesterday’s Mayoral Election and the scenes of policemen having to guard British Election booths because of the high likelihood that the State authorities in this area will falsify the result, it seems like a good moment to have a look how it got to this.
Britain has experienced general mass-immigration since 2000, but the increase in her Muslim population is particularly significant: having grown from about 82,000 in 1961 to 553,000 in 1981, it then spiked to two million in 2000, and increased by another half-a-million by 2008 and is now well on its way to three million—a rate of growth ten times the national average. This need not have mattered had Muslims been assimilated but the government’s declared policy of multiculturalism has in practice led to ghettoization in many areas.
Thanks in part to Saudi finance and missionary activity, a counter to the revolutionary Shi’ism that seized power in Iran in 1979, Sunnism has been considerably Wahhabized, and that is especially true of Western Muslims. 81% of British Muslims identify with their religion before their country, a third support killing for their faith, and forty percent want the Holy Law imposed. Given these numbers for Britain’s Muslims as a whole it is no surprise that when such a population is concentrated—with large numbers from Bangladesh, Somalia, and Pakistan, not countries where the most tolerant brands of Islam predominate—they become more extreme still.
It is a well-known sociological fact that when people live in like-minded communities, they get more like-minded than ever. This is being seen in America, where self-segregation is taking place—Democrats move closer to, say, art-galleries, and Republicans to a church—and the reinforcement of the communities drives them to polarise because the brakes that would check their descent into purism and extremism are removed. And while these bottom-up social and demographic factors are working their way on Tower Hamlets, there is then a top-down imposition that is even worse.
The key figure in this is the mayor, Lutfur Rahman, who has been in office since 2010. (Early reports suggest he lost the Election yesterday, though whether he is leaving remains to be seen.) Rahman was exposed not long after taking office as being closely associated with the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), an Islamist group descended straight from Jamaat-e-Islami, which was involved in the 1971 atrocities against the Bengalis as they tried to break away from Pakistan. Many of the refugees from that episode ended up in London, as they did from the terrifying war in Algeria; radicalised in war, dislocated in exile, and concentrated by government policy, all doing their bit toward “Londonistan“. IFE has also captured the central institution in Tower Hamlets, the East London Mosque, which is infamous in its own right as a centre and disseminator of hatred and subversion. Rahman had initially run for the directly-elected mayorship in Tower Hamlets on a Labour slate but was expelled from the party when it finally realised that it was being subjected to entryist tactics—again. As with so many other militant Muslim groups—the Muslim Council of Britain the most obvious case-in-point—IFE had received State funding at various times for counter-extremism work! IFE’s collaborators at the mosque are Hizb ut-Tahrir, a group responsible for a seventh of all terrorism-related arrests in Britain.
Channel 4’s Dispatches program in 2010 made clear that worrying efforts IFE had taken toward imposing its rule extra-constitutionally on areas of Tower Hamlets, with the East London Mosque as their headquarters. The niqab had become essentially compulsory: dissenters were harassed on the streets and subject to death threats. At least eighteen “hate preachers” had been hosted at the mosque, including Anwar al-Awlaki, and as usual they took a very dim view of homosexuals and especially Jews. The excellent thing about this documentary was that showed that large numbers of people in the area were moderate and secular, whose attempts to resist IFE were constantly undercut by a rather crude assumption—quite possible descended from a re-writing of the civil rights movement that often over-emphasises clerical figures—that Muslim populations are spoken for by their mosques. In fact, this religious “leadership” is disproportionately radical, again partly because it has been bankrolled by Saudi Wahhabism, and is rejected by substantial numbers. “We have told [the government] many times about these people. But you still get people like Boris Johnson … and Prince Charles going down [to the East London Mosque]. People see that, and it gives them credibility,” said one local opponent of IFE.
But this has only gotten worse since then. In February 2011, self-appointed Muslim patrol gangs put up “Gay Free Zone” posters. The mosque, incidentally, played to form in this matter: it condemned these posters and vowed to have no more hate preachers but then hosted Uthman Lateef before the month was out, a foam flecked anti-homosexual demagogue. Also that month a teacher was savagely attacked with an iron bar because he taught “other religions [than Islam] to our sisters“.
By the summer of 2011 it was quite clear that a well-organised campaign to turn Tower Hamlets into a shari’a enclave was underway. One man was left partially blind after being attacked by a mob for smoking during Ramadan. Despite reporting it to the police, “there were no witnesses, but there is CCTV in that street and it is lined with shops and people.” Thus either the population agreed with punishment or were terrified of those who imposed it, and either is a very alarming challenge to the Rule of Law. Teachers came under intense pressure to make girls wear the niqab. Teachers who complained about widespread racialism and antisemitism among the Muslim students were fired. (There are repeated reports that the Muslim extremists also engage in virulent rhetorical attacks on black people, which is not surprising given their intellectual history.) The number of assaults on teachers more than doubled between 2007/8 and 2008/9. Dating agencies were violently shut down.
There was in this period a massive increase in anti-homosexual violence, up 80% between 2008 and 2011, including stabbings, and this continued until quite recently. In January 2013, mutaween-type gangs in Tower Hamlets broadcast videos of themselves driving a man off “their” streets because he was homosexual. This was not just a feature of life for the powerless and invisible. The Labour leader in the area, Josh Peck, was shouted down at meetings with animal noises and cries of, “Unnatural acts! Unnatural acts!” The Conservative leader, Peter Golds, was repeatedly heckled as “Mrs. Golds” and a “poofter”.
Golds noted afterwards that such a carry-on at a football stadium would have resulted in arrests. He was quite correct, but the IFE’s community affairs co-ordinator, Azad Ali, was chairman of the Muslim Safety Forum, an organisation officially recognised by the Met as its “principal [liaison] body in relation to Muslim community safety.” In short, the branches of government and society—the local government, the religious institutions, the police, the education services—were being captured one after the other.
The point was hit exactly by Golds when he said that the police’s “feebleness” was because they “are afraid of being accused of Islamophobia.” After the Macpherson Report branded the police “institutionally racist”—a nebulous charge that avoided the more strenuous work of finding concrete racialist incidents—and with this dubious word “Islamophobia” in circulation, often used by Islamists and their allies to insinuate a hateful prejudice based on skin-colour when their ideas and conduct are criticised, the police have been extremely wary. This has left actual racialists able to continue imposing theocratic norms on an entire section of the capital city, and to use lawless violence in their cause, and apparently nobody can even find a language in which to object.
The nadir of this came when the serially–disgraced George Galloway, a former MP in this district—who was caught by the Dispatches program saying he owed “more than [he] can say” to the IFE for his 2005 victory—won a by-election in Bradford in March 2012. Galloway grew a Salafi-style beard for the occasion, said, “I … do not drink alcohol and never have,” while insinuating his (Labour) opponent was a drunk, and even said: “God KNOWS who is a Muslim. And he KNOWS who is not”. This was not only an outrageous suggestion that non-Muslims are not allowed to be MPs in this area of Britain, it was employed against a Muslim candidate. Thus did takfir-by-insinuation make its way into mainstream British politics. Having been a fervent Roman Catholic, reports are that Galloway converted to Islam, and whether that is true or not it was certainly an explicitly Islamic vote that won him this election. The message soon spread. Facing a tough election, the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, decided to play this card, too. Having been a long-time and furious anti-American and—if one is being charitable—”anti-Israel” noisemaker, Livingstone’s main problem with his Muslim audience was his history of libertine advocacy. Seeking to off-set this, Livingstone intensified his work for the Iranian theocracy’s English-language propaganda station and made very creepy, dog-whistling statements against Jews.
Behind the problems with the police, the opportunism of politicians who see a large Muslim vote and pander to its basest prejudices, and the complete failure of the simultaneous experiments of mass-immigration and multiculturalism is a larger problem of the retreat of liberal society in the face of a very determined, theocratic, totalitarian foe. To hear the homosexual rights movement respond to forces that openly seek to erase their gains by saying that they condemn equally those who physically attack them and those who “use these incidents to create a moral panic” is to realise that something has gone very wrong in the liberal world. Where once ultra-Rightist religious reactionaries were taken as arch-enemies of the secular-Left, they now makes common cause against “homophobia and Islamophobia”. The Muslim far-Right can hardly believe its luck.
Radicalism begets counter-radicalism, and the white far-Right is seizing on the Islamist menace to push its own authoritarian agenda. As has been explained of movements like the English Defence League:
Some of its views and concerns overlap considerably with those voiced by commentators on the left and right of mainstream politics. This means that taken at face-value the movement is less extreme and feels less threatening than the traditional far right.
But of course it is just as threatening as ever.
The Elections yesterday will almost certainly produce increases in the share of the vote for parties that ginned-up their base by banging the drum about immigration and playing on the fault-lines between native populations and Muslim immigrants. We have seen hysterical anti-shari’a movements in America and Australia. This, too, however, has to be recognised as a symptom of liberalism ceding the ground it should be defending. It is impossible for people not to notice the encroachments of the theocrats, and the liberals have insisted that the fascists be the only ones to push back. This is extremely dangerous; it leaves liberal society at the mercy of two totalitarian forces. A simple re-commitment to secularism, including among immigrant groups, beginning by ceasing to deal with them through religious institutions or self-appointed religious “leaders,” would go a long way in rectifying this—and should begin right now.
UPDATE: Since this was written, voter fraud on a comical scale—literally a “car boot full of postal vote applications” that were already filled out—has turned up, as has the revelation that IFE had people among the vote-counters in Tower Hamlets. And there has been another anti-homosexual attack. One of the men, who was beaten to the point of unconsciousness, noted, “It happens a lot round this area,” while his partner said: “You get these patrols that make you feel like you’re trespassing in their area.”
UPDATE TWO: On April 23, 2015, after a ten-week hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice, Judge Richard Mawrey QC handed down his verdict, cancelling this Election and ordering it to be re-run. Lutfur Rahman was removed from office for vote-rigging and massive corruption, which included bribes for votes, ballot-stuffing, and using clerical institutions to influence voters. Rahman had recruited local imams to tell their congregations how to vote and on at least one occasion Rahman’s supporters outside a polling station told a voter it was “un-Islamic” not to vote for Rahman. Rahman was banned from seeking office again, and ordered to pay £250,000 costs.