London borough elects Britain’s first Muslim mayor

22 Oct 2010

Lutfur Rahman – who won just over 50 per cent of the vote – ran as an independent after he was deselected as Labour’s candidate. He was backed by George Galloway’s Respect organisation. Mr Rahman, who served as Labour leader of the council until he was removed six months ago, said all he wanted to do was serve the people of Tower Hamlets – whatever their colour, religion or creed.
His election bid was supported by several Labour councillors, and London’s former mayor Ken Livingstone, who risked internal party discipline to back him against the official Labour man, Helal Abbas. Mr Abbas, who’s been leader of the council five times, launched a bitter attack on his rival last night accusing him of being “in the gutter”. He called it a sad night for anyone who wanted to build a better future, and a united Tower Hamlets.
The two men have been embroiled in bitter infighting throughout the campaign. Last month Mr Abbas produced a dossier accusing Mr Rahman of being influenced by a group called the Islamic Forum of Europe – which he described as a “fundamentalist organisation which is gradually infiltrating the Labour party.” It was this document which influenced the party’s National Executive Committee to remove Lutfur Rahman as the official candidate, and replace him with Mr Abbas.

Muslim leaders back Livingstone as mayor

Prominent Muslim organisations and individuals have pledged to back Ken Livingstone as mayor of London, saying it is in the “best interest” of Muslims to vote for him in this year’s elections on May 1. A statement, published today in full on the Guardian’s website, praises Livingstone for his continued support of a multicultural society and for protecting Muslim communities against racism and Islamophobia. Riazat Butt reports.

Demonization of Muslims confirmed in some western media

A “torrent” of negative stories, showing a “hostile and scare mongering attitude” has been revealed in a new study into the portrayal of Muslims and Islam in the British media. The research, commissioned by London mayor Ken Livingstone, found that 91 per cent of articles in national newspapers about Muslims were negative during just one week of news coverage. Livingstone slated the findings as a “damning indictment” of the media and urged editors and program makers to review the way they portray Muslims in their broadcasts and publications.

Ramadan: “Blair can no longer deny a link exists between terrorism and foreign policy”

By Tariq Ramadan {Rather than insisting on Muslims’ own duty to integrate, British society must reconcile itself with its self-professed values} Let us look closely at recent developments in government policy toward Muslims. The British Muslim reaction to the July 7 attacks was exemplary, as Ken Livingstone pointed out, and this was a proof that they were well integrated into society. A policy of constructive engagement would have spared no effort to make the best of these tragic events. Instead, the British government has adopted an attitude of double denial, at home and abroad. Obsession with the “terrorist threat” rapidly colonised debate and drove the government headlong into an approach restricted to the “fight against radicalisation and extremism”. Though it appeared normal to deal with the issue, the “Muslim question” could in no way be reduced to one of security. Further, this policy was accompanied by a demeaning – and frequently paternalistic – argument on the necessity of “integration”. Muslims, so it went, must accept those British values (liberty, tolerance, democracy, etc) that make up the essence of “Britishness”. This reductive argument is dangerous on two counts…

Violent Muslims “Overemphasised”

The Mayor of London has condemned what he said was greater publicity given to Muslim extremists over and above non-Islamic groups. Ken Livingstone told BBC radio too much emphasis was placed on Muslim extremism while the vast majority of faiths wanted to live together in harmony. He said a situation had been reached where any comment by politicians on Muslims had “front page coverage”.