Ken Livingstone was accused by the government yesterday of inciting a lynch mob after he urged protesters to go to public servants’ homes and “make their lives intolerable”.
The Labour party was urged to expel the former London mayor for an incendiary speech in Tower Hamlets.
Mr Livingstone was speaking at a rally for the borough’s independent mayor Lutfur Rahman, whose victory in May’s local elections is being challenged in the High Court amid claims that electors were pressured into voting for him.
Eric Pickles, the communities and local government Secretary, has threatened to send commissioners to run the failing borough in London’s East End.
Mr Livingstone told a public meeting in Mile End on Wednesday: “When these commissioners turn up, find out where they live and then have a peaceful demonstration outside their homes so their neighbours know these are the kind of people who overturn a democratically elected mayor. Make their lives intolerable.”
Kris Hopkins, the local government minister, said: “I am appalled at Ken Livingstone’s comments which run the risk of stirring up a lynch mob mentality in Tower Hamlets. The borough is already riven by the politics of intimidation and division, and stupid remarks like his will only worsen tensions.”
Jim Fitzpatrick, Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse, said after hearing Mr Livingstone’s comments: “That’s deeply disturbing. It’s almost inciting people to the level of intimidation. The Labour front bench welcomed the statement from Eric Pickles and have accepted the need for commissioners to be sent in to Tower Hamlets, so Ken is clearly not speaking for Labour party policy.”
Ken Livingstone and George Galloway will tonight ride to the rescue of a beleaguered mayor who faces being stripped of his powers by Eric Pickles.
Labour’s united front against Lutfur Rahman will be smashed as Mr Livingstone and a fellow member of the party’s national executive join a parade of left-wingers at a rally demanding an end to the “witch-hunt” of Britain’s first elected ethnic minority mayor.
Some insiders are dismayed that Labour figures will be sharing a platform with Mr Galloway, whose inflammatory anti-war rhetoric led to his expulsion from the party.
The rally will be in the east London borough of Tower Hamlets, where the mayor is due to have his powers transferred to commissioners sent in by Mr Pickles, the communities and local government secretary.
Mr Rahman’s election victory over Labour in May is being challenged in the High Court over concerns that it was fraudulent. Among the allegations are that voters were told they would be good Muslims if they voted for him but sinners if they backed John Biggs, Labour’s candidate.
Mr Livingstone will be joined by Christine Shawcroft, a fellow member of Labour’s national executive. Aaron Kiely, a Labour councillor from Thurrock in Essex and a member of the National Union of Students executive, will speak for the mayor.
The Financial Times has published a profile by Roula Khalaf of Fabien Engelmann, a leading figure in the Front National who in March this year was elected mayor of Hayange in northeastern France.
Engelmann is described as a “one-time leftist union activist”. But that isn’t the half of it.
He is a former longtime militant in the revolutionary socialist organisation Lutte Ouvrière, which he joined in 2001 and remained a member of until 2008, when he contested the municipal elections as an LO candidate. Engelmann then left LO and joined another far-left organisation, the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste. He broke from the NPA in 2010 in protest at its decision to stand a hijab-wearing Muslim woman candidate, Ilham Moussaïd, in that year’s regional elections.
Having gravitated to the far-right “secularist” organisation Riposte Laïque – led by another ex-Trotskyist, Pierre Cassen – Engelmann joined the FN later in 2010, becoming a member of its political committee and an adviser to Marine Le Pen.
Roula Khalaf writes:
As you would expect, Mr Engelmann has strong views about immigration and the supposedly menacing Islamisation of French society. His problem is the Kosovar and Albanian migrants housed in the town and living on benefits. They are, he says, a “new immigration”, families that produce five to seven children, feed off the French state and want to impose a “middle ages dogma and a religion that is not ours”.
Saphir News has reported that Caroline Fourest – the French “left-wing” Islamophobe who wrote Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan – has been successfully sued for defamation over comments she made in June last year on the radio station France Culture.
Fourest was responding to the attacks on two Muslim women in Argenteuil, one of whom lost her baby after being kicked in the stomach by her assailants. This followed an earlier incident in which a 17-year-old woman named Rabia Bentot (pictured) was punched and kicked by racists, who also tore off her headscarf while shouting “dirty Arab” and “dirty Muslim”
Instead of Fourest declaring her outrage at the assaults, and her solidarity with the victims, this self-styled feminist expressed scepticism about the women’s accounts.
Fourest claimed that Rabia Bentot was being manipulated by her father and by the Coordination contre le Racisme et l’Islamophobie, assisted by what Fourest described as the “communalist” website Oumma.com, and she suggested that the story of an attack might well have been fabricated. Even if an assault did take place, Fourest asserted, the police had not excluded the possibility that Rabia was the victim of violence by her own family, who could have beaten her up as punishment for living too free a lifestyle.
Needless to say, Fourest offered no evidence whatsoever to back up these disgraceful slurs.
A former Swedish MP has slammed Sweden’s new Housing Minister Mehmet Kaplan, saying that the Muslim politician has a hidden agenda.
Social Democrat politician Nalin Pekgul went on the attack against Mehmet Kaplan from the Green Party (Miljöpartiet) in a debate article in one of Sweden’s leading broadsheets.
Her piece in the Dagens Industri newspaper was prompted by a statement Kaplan made to the Turkish media, in which he claimed that the reason young Muslims are joining the terror group Isis is because of widespread Islamophobia in Europe.
Kaplan, who is Sweden’s new Housing Minister, argued that the government should give more money to Europe’s mosques in an effort to tackle the recruitment. But Pekgul suggested that young people were signing up because they felt lost or rootless and that Islamist extremists were taking advantage of their vulnerability.
“It’s unforgivably naive to think that giving money to these kinds of [Muslim] organizations and mosques will work against segregation and will reach out to these youths who are being radicalized,” she wrote. “It’s exactly this kind of naivety that people like Mehmet Kaplan are counting on, and it’s time for everyone who wants to oppose the radicalization to realize the damage Mehmet Kaplan and others like him can accomplish.”
Kaplan, a 43-year-old born in Turkey, is a former spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Sweden. He has been a member of the Green Party since 2003.
“For fear of being labelled as an Islamophobe, no one dares question Mehmet Kaplan and his hidden agenda,” added Pekgul.
Not content with their annual campaign to cancel Christmas, Muslims are demanding a ban on the popular children’s cartoon series Peppa Pig, because it is an “insult to Islam”. Or so you would conclude if you believed reports published yesterday by the Metro and Mirror.
According to this story, which quickly spread across the internet, a British Muslim named Zayn Sheikh had posted a Youtube video calling for a campaign to ban the children’s cartoon character after it inspired his young son to want to be a pig rather than a doctor. Instead, Sheikh argued, Muslims should be promoting an alternative cartoon of his own creation called Abdullah the Cat.
Pamela Geller was among those who swallowed the story whole. “On the day after a Muslim beheaded an elderly woman in broad daylight as she was gardening”, an indignant Geller wrote, “you would think that Muslims in the UK would be anxious to prove that they were a loyal, non-lethal population. No, instead they’re more demanding and supremacist than ever, now calling for a ban on a cartoon pig.”
Young Muslims today defended the flying of a black flag above the gates of an east London council estate. Youths at the gates to the Will Crooks estate, in Poplar, branded objectors to the flag – which has been adopted by some jihadist groups – as “racist”.
The flag was removed yesterday for the second time following two visits from Met officers in as many days. It was hung there alongside the Palestinian flag as part of an “end the siege in Gaza” protest.
Today one youth outside the estate said: “It’s just racists complaining. If it was the St George’s flag, it would be alright. But this is our version and there’s this big reaction.” Another added: “I don’t understand why it has caused so much reaction. All it is is a declaration of the belief in Allah. It’s not the ISIS flag.”
The first flag was taken down by local nun, Sister Christine Frost, 77, on Friday, after she suspected it had been hoisted there by “naive young hot heads.” However, it reappeared before local community leaders decided to remove it yesterday afternoon after police visited the estate in Poplar High Street.
A Met spokesman said they first attended on Friday but the flag had been removed when they arrived.
They added: “Police were made aware of a flag displayed at the Will Crooks Estate again on Sunday, August 10. Officers attended the venue, spoke to residents and met local community leaders who removed the flag voluntarily. It was not an ISIS flag. There are no criminal offences arising from this incident.”
Last week the arrival of Eid provided the pretext for yet another round of anti-Muslim scaremongering. According to a rumour that quickly spread across the internet, the Vue cinema in Birmingham’s Star City entertainment complex was only allowing Muslims who were celebrating Eid to enter the venue and had turned away non-Muslims.
This transparently ludicrous story would appear to have been kicked off by a comment posted on the Birmingham Mail Facebook page by one Emma Noakes, who accused Birmingham City Council of colluding with Vue in implementing a discriminatory admission policy:
You’ll note that Ms Noakes’ accusation wasn’t based on her own experience of being turned away from the cinema but on a second-hand and probably garbled account by a friend. As for her suggestion that the local authority was co-operating with Star City in banning non-Muslims from the venue, this was clearly nonsense.
Nevertheless, it was enough to provoke a predictable spate of outraged comments denouncing the supposed ban as further proof of an Islamic takeover of Britain and the subjugation of the indigenous people. A Facebook page was set up to rally opposition to the discrimination against non-Muslims, under the title “Boycott star city – racist shithole”. The accusation of racism was particularly ironic, given that the page is clearly a far-right initiative, as the photos below demonstrate.
Unsurprisingly, Birmingham City Council denied any involvement, telling those who inquired about the issue: “This has nothing to do with the council and is simply not true.” The Birmingham Mail, a newspaper not averse to engaging in a bit of anti-Muslim scaremongering itself, also dismissed the rumour as baseless, stating: “We have fully investigated these allegations and can find no foundation for them.”
France’s highest administrative body has suspended a plan to provide Halal meals for Muslim inmates in one prison in the country’s east.
The council of state ruled on Wednesday that providing Halal meat at Saint-Quentin-Fallavier prison in the city of Grenoble was impractical “owing to its financial cost and high needs for organisation”.
France’s Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who had been contesting the plan since 2013, argued it would infringe on France’s rules on secularism that ban religious expression in public places.
France’s highest appeals court will make the final decision in the case.
Norway’s Labour and Progress parties have stated that they would consider revisiting the issue of a Muslim veil ban in the wake of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that a public ban does not violate the human rights of Muslim women.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday gave support to France’s claim that the statutory public prohibition of clothing which covers the face is within the framework of European human rights.
“We must consider whether we should promote the proposal again, after the court in Strasbourg has now confirmed what we have constantly said: that a ban is compatible with human rights,” said Mazyar Keshvari at the Progress Party (FRP) to the VG daily.
Jan Bøhler of the Labour Party (Ap) also claimed that the ruling of the court puts the Norwegian discussion about the controversial ban in a new light. “When parliament rejected such a ban in 2013, the main argument was that Norway risked being censured in the ECHR. Now that argument falls away. I think we need to take a new discussion about a possible ban,” he told VG.