Islamism,  The Left,  UK Politics

The Kingdom of IFE

Over the weekend, there was more in the Telegraph on the impressive influence of the Islamic Forum Europe – an emanation of the South Asian political party, Jamaat-e-Islami – within Tower Hamlets.

What that evidence suggests is that Ken Livingstone invested heavily in cultivating the vote controlled by the IFE. The calculation appears to have been that the additional votes captured by this strategy would compensate for those Labour voters who turned away from Ken Livingstone, in disgust at his cultivating of the South Asian extreme Right:

In an election lost by Mr Livingstone, the Islamic Forum of Europe helped secure massive and unexpected swings towards him in its east London heartland.

In one ward, Spitalfields, his vote share rose from 29.6 per cent in 2004 – an election he won – to 68.4 per cent in 2008, a rise of nearly 39 percentage points.

In every other ward in Tower Hamlets and Newham with a sizeable Muslim population, his vote rose by between 23 and 36 percentage points. His vote in other Muslim and ethnic minority areas of London also rose, but by far smaller amounts.

As is often the case with Ken Livingstone – and reminiscent of the Lee Jasper scandal – the story appears to have involved handing over large sums of public money:

Mr Livingstone’s economic development body, the London Development Agency, had agreed to pay more than £1.3 million to the East London Mosque, controlled by the IFE, and described by critics as hardline.

Emails leaked to The Sunday Telegraph show that a senior LDA official furiously protested against at least £500,000 of this grant, saying there were “major concerns” about the mosque project and “no case” for giving it the money.

However, the official was overruled and the grant was paid.

There is also discussion of the role of the”Muslims4Ken” campaign, in which IFE members – including the supporter of violent jihad against British troops, Azad Ali – played a prominent party. You will recognise their fingerprints all over the campaign: lie about your own extremism, accuse others of racism.

Muslims 4 Ken made a series of false and inflammatory claims against Mr Livingstone’s main opponent, Boris Johnson.

It leafleted mosques claiming that Mr Johnson had “expressed his hatred against Islam” and also claimed that he wanted to ban the Koran.

Muslims 4 Ken’s website quoted Mr Johnson as saying that “racism is natural” without adding the sentences which followed (“It is as natural as sewage. We all agree that it is disgusting.”)

In the Mayoral elections, the strategy failed. However, the IFE have learnt not to put all its eggs in one basket, and have now managed to place its activists within the Tory Party as well. No wonder the London Tories are now sucking up to the IFE. They have clearly concluded that they are a force which is better accommodated than opposed.

The rest of the article contains all the other to-be-expected details – dramatic fluctuations of the number of people registered to vote, pages of names and addresses written in the same handwriting, and the concerns of public officials being ignored and overruled.

The responses from Livingstone and Azad Ali are instructive. Here’s Livingstone:

Mr Livingstone said he could not recollect the project, or whether he had been personally involved in approving the payment. He refused to comment on the activities of Muslims 4 Ken and said: “You are a liar who is stirring up racism.”

That’s right. To criticise a specific political party is to encourage racism.

Here’s Azad Ali:

He said the IFE did “encourage people to register to vote” as part of its task to promote political engagement, but he categorically denied registering any electors who do not exist, or any involvement in the mayoral petition.

“That would be criminal,” he said.

It would indeed be criminal.

One of the odd consequences of this country’s draconian defamation law is that the worse people behave, the greater leverage they have if they decide to sue. Azad Ali enthusiastically backed the killing of British troops in Iraq, but outrageously sued when this was pointed out. He lost. However, by bringing that libel action, he managed to silence other newspapers who could have pointed out the outrageous fact that a man who is a disgusting traitor also headed up the Civil Service Islamic Society and, even more remarkably, has been treated as an adviser and trusted confidant of the Metropolitan Police. You can therefore be certain that attempts will be made to use the law to prevent reporting about the activities of the IFE.

Now, consider the position of a Bangladeshi democrat and secularist in Tower Hamlets, facing the prospect of a Jamaat-e-Islami takeover of their local government and community. Precisely how courageous do we expect them to be, in standing up to a political party which enjoys political favour, some of whose activists are prepared to issue pretty serious threats, and which receives pots of public money. Would you have the guts to stand up against such an organisation, particularly if they libelled you as a racist, and then issued its own libel proceedings against you?

Welcome to the Kingdom of IFE.