Daily Mail – Following a rise in homophobic attacks and an increase in the number of extremist Muslim preachers in Tower Hamlets, the East London borough is more and more concerned about hardline Muslims imposing their values on others in the borough. Recently, it was reported that Islamic extremists, operating from Tower Hamlets and aiming to establish Sharia Law in Britain, have threatened a 31-year-old Asian pharmacist for refusing to wear a veil, even though she is not a practicing Muslim. While, initially, the woman’s boss received threats of boycotts for employing a female who does not cover her head in an allegedly “Muslim area”, subsequently, the woman herself received death threats. While worried and afraid, the residents of Tower Hamlets are not surprised by incidents like this, as similar threats had previously been issued and the borough has also seen a rise in homophobic abuse and physical attacks on gay men and women by Islamist groups.
Recently, Islamist groups have also begun to dominate the community’s political processes, with Bangaldeshi-born Lutfur Rahman becoming the first directly elected mayor of the borough. Originally a Labour candidate, Rahman was dumped by the party due to alleged links with a fundamentalist organization known as the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE). Subsequently, he ran as an independent candidate, allegedly with the help of the IFE, and managed to win the elections in what the London Evening Standard described as ‘one of the nastiest campaigns in recent London political history’. The Daily Mail reports of a local resident who made the following comment on the current situation: ‘You basically have a large umbrella Islamist group that appears to have almost a stranglehold over a major council in the East End of London’. Specific concern relates to Islamist group’s attempt to impose Islam on Britain, starting with the borough of Tower Hamlets, where evidence of Muslim extremism can easily be found in the form of “Sharia for the UK” or “gay-free zone” leaflets, homophobic incidents, and censored advertising boards (such as in Birmingham). While such incidents worry local residents, not many dare to voice these concerns, as they fear to be branded Islamophobic.