On Tuesday 20 February, Mayor John Biggs attended the East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre to receive a petition presented by Dilowar Khan, Director of Engagement for the Mosque. The petition was started by Tower Hamlets Stand Up To Racism and United East End after a group ‘No surrender to Islamic terror’ was allowed to march down Whitechapel and past the East London Mosque on October 21st 2017.

The aim of the petition was to make clear to the police that this should not be allowed to happen again and included an appeal to West Ham United football ground not to allow the Football Lads Alliance to unfurl their banners in the stadium.

The East London Mosque is regularly singled out by the far right as a ‘hot bed of extremism’ and Tower Hamlets a ‘no go area’, including by President Trump when he was a presidential candidate in 2015. Presenting the petition, Dilowar Khan pointed out ‘ironically, the East London Mosque, a key target for racists and Islamophobes, is probably the most open mosque in the country, receiving thousands of people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Our doors are always open.’

The Mayor welcomed the petition as the overwhelming view of residents who ‘value the diversity of the borough and do not want to see the community divided by far right racist thugs’. He also brought a letter from West Ham United football club that spelled out that ‘equality, diversity and inclusion are integral to our values and the way we operate.’

The sentiment of all those present (and those who signed the petition) was that the diversity of the borough has to be defended and that we have to continue the proud tradition of Cable St 1936. There have been numerous demonstrations since then that have shown that by mobilising across the community we can stop the far right from marching. As Sufia Alam, manager of Maryam Centre put it, ‘we owe it to our community to keep it safe’.