He is a reader of this blog (I’m told), so I don’t know if it was my last post on Lutfur’s declaration of love for the Islamic Forum of Europe that prompted today’s decision, but the EDL’s Tommy Robinson claims he’s had enough.
Thanks to a tip from the Quilliam Foundation, I broke the story on Twitter this morning then on the Express website a bit later. The full piece is here.
It includes some interesting comments from the Reverend Alan Green, the rector at St John on Bethnal Green and the chair of the Tower Hamlets Interfaith Forum.
Alan is one of the main organisers of the anti-EDL rallies in the borough. I asked him for his thoughts on Tommy Robinson’s decision and whether he (and the East London Mosque through the faith forum) would be prepared to meet him.
Here’s the extract from the Express piece:
The Reverend Alan Green chairs the Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum, which has been at the forefront of organising protests against the EDL’s marches in the borough.
Its members include the East London Mosque, which has been a main target in Robinson’s speeches.
Mr Green said today that while he welcomed Robinson’s decision he wanted to know more about “what is going on”.
He said: “On the face of it, it seems a real victory for places like Tower Hamlets for the way we have represented our diverse communities in the face of what amounted to extremism with a covering of respectability.
“If that extremism has now been stripped away, then that’s a really good victory for us.
“He now needs to show he is clearly separating himself from not only the violence of the extreme members of the EDL but also from the level of rhetoric that he himself has espoused.
“If he is learning that you can’t just accuse all Muslims of the extremism that he has accused them of, then that’s a real step forward.
“It’s not just bout physical violence, it’s about physical abuse as well.
Asked if he and the East London Mosque would meet Robinson as part of the Inter Faith Forum, he said: “There could be a time when we could do that, but I would want to see far more progress from him than just the statement today.
“As a Christian minister, I’m always happy to meet anyone but I would not want to fragment the unity we have here in Tower Hamlets, so we’d need to see further steps first.”
With some justification, Mayor Lutfur Rahman can rightly say he has helped defeat the EDL. He’s led well in this regard, especially from a political perspective.