I was offered the "Muslim patrol" story in Tower Hamlets, where self-proclaimed "Muslim vigilantes" filmed themselves verbally abusing and intimidating a gay man. Perhaps wrongly, I didn't use it because I wasn't sure whether a few kids on YouTube had national importance. I am glad, however, that the local police appear to be taking it seriously for once in contrast to their lamentable attempts to ignore, downplay and cover up previous acts of "Islamic enforcement" and bigotry in the East End.
One Tower Hamlets organisation of undoubted national importance that continues to laugh up its sleeve at us is the East London Mosque, the capital's largest. The mosque's PR machine lost no time cranking out a statement condemning the "vigilantes" and claiming that the mosque was "committed to building co-operation and harmony between all communities in this borough. The actions of this tiny minority have no place in our faith." This claim has been trustingly repeated by various journalists in the coverage this week. But, as the most cursory investigation would show, it is a brazen lie.
There is no evidence that the East London Mosque is directly involved in the latest attacks. But at least one activist in the Islamic Forum of Europe, the Islamic supremacist group that runs the mosque, has previously threatened and intimidated people for violating "Islamic norms," using the IFE's name.
And as this blog has repeatedly documented, the mosque itself and its annexe, the London Muslim Centre, host a constant stream of viciously homophobic and other hate preachers. In June 2011, after coming under particular pressure on the subject, the mosque promised: "Any speaker who is believed to have said something homophobic will not be allowed to use our premises."
Sounds clear enough to me. But as I documented at the time, this promise was broken within eight days. It has been broken countless times since. And it appears to have been broken at least four times last month alone.
On December 29, the IFE advertised a fundraising dinner at the London Muslim Centre for Interpal, a charity banned in the US for its links with the terror group Hamas. Among the speakers was Interpal's chair of trustees, Ibrahim Hewitt, who in a pamphlet likened homosexuality to child-molesting and said: "The spread of this depraved practice in a society disrupts its natural life pattern and makes those who practice it slaves to their lusts, depriving them of decent taste, decent morals, and a decent manner of living."
On December 21, the London Muslim Centre was the advertised venue for a "charity dinner in aid of the world's orphans," addressed by one Murtaza Khan a star of my Channel 4 Dispatches exposing the IFE and the mosque, and somebody who has spoken approvingly of killing gay people, saying that "not even animals behave in that manner" and calling homosexuality "this abominable action, which goes against humanity."
On December 16, the London Muslim Centre was the advertised venue for an "unmissable winter conference" starring Hamza Tzortzis, who describes homosexuality as "behaviour that negates the Islamic vision of society."
As we've described before, gay people have been getting a tough time in Tower Hamlets recently. That simply cannot be unconnected to the fact that hatred of them is allowed to be openly and regularly expressed inside one of the area's most prominent religious institutions. The mosque and IFE are also closely linked to the executive mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, one of whose cabinet members shared a platform at the mosque with one of its homophobic speakers.
This is not a "commitment to building co-operation between all communities." It's time for media colleagues to start probing the roots of bigotry in Tower Hamlets; or if they can't manage that, at least stop tamely recycling the East London Mosque's lies.
Hat-tip to Harry's Place for the adverts and one of the videos.