Daily Israel Report

Britain Elects Islamic Mayor, Marks Increasing Muslim Influence

The election of an Islamic mayor in a British borough indicates the growing Muslim influence in the country.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 10/24/2010, 12:51 PM / Last Update: 10/24/2010, 1:07 PM

Barely 25 percent of the East London borough of Tower Hamlets bothered to vote for a mayor this week; at the end, an Islamist candidate was elected. The race was ultimately between Lutfur Rahman, running as an Independent candidate, and Helal Abbas, the Labor Party candidate.

An article written in the January 3 edition of the London Evening Standard claimed the Tower Hamlets council was alleged to have “fallen under the influence of the Islamic Forum of Europe.” The piece quoted parliamentarian Jim Fitzpatrick, who said the IFE has been “placing people within the political parties, recruiting members, trying to get individuals elected so they can exercise political influence at local government or national level.”

Rahman, who won the election by an almost two-to-one margin, is linked with the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) and has a number of wealthy backers, including powerful local business owners.

Rahman garnered 23,283 votes, as opposed to the 11,254 ballots picked up by Abbas. Another 1,700 votes were discounted as invalid; 10,448 others went to three other candidates, including 5, 348 votes that went to the Conservative Party, which vowed to become “the largest opposition party.”

Replaced by Abbas as the Labor Party’s candidate due to allegations of extremism, Rahman activists “heckled women on their way to the polls for their ‘immodest dress,’ no doubt scaring many away from voting,” charged British blogger David Thomas in a column written for Cherwell.

“I won the vote of the membership,” insisted Rahman, who claimed he was the victim of a racist effort by the Labor party, despite a number of anti-Semitic remarks made by his own associates. “The imposition of Councilor Abbas in my place is an insult to the democratic process,” he told The Telegraph in an interview prior to the election.

“This is a sad night for those of us who want to build a better future and a united Tower Hamlets,” Abbas commented after the results were announced. Still, “as the party with the largest number of councilors (lawmakers) at Tower Hamlets Town Hall,” Abbas vowed to “hold the new Mayor to account and to stand up for all the communities of Tower Hamlets, not just one.”