Socialist Worker

1,000 people rally in Tower Hamlets to defend mayor Lutfur Rahman

Issue No. 2430

Around 1,000 people came to a meeting in Tower Hamlets, east London, on Wednesday of last week.

It was called after Tory local government minister Eric Pickles announced he was sending in a “takeover squad” to run parts of the council.

An investigation by PricewaterhouseCooper accountants found no evidence of fraud or corruption. But the Tories still used it to launch an Islamophobic witch hunt against mayor Lutfur Rahman.

Numerous local and national speakers addressed the Defend Democracy in Tower Hamlets meeting. 

Former London mayor Ken Livingstone voiced support for Rahman, as did former Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow George Galloway. 

Mohammed Hoque, chair of the Council of Mosques, accused the Tories of “spreading negativity to disunite us”.

Other speakers included Labour executive member Christine Shawcroft, Weyman Bennett from Unite Against Fascism and Stop the War convenor Lindsey German.

Tower Hamlets Unison branch secretary and anti-fascist activist John McLoughlin spoke out against cuts, and told the crowd, “I am sick of the attacks on our borough, and I’m particularly sick of the attacks on Muslims. 

“It seems to me if you’re Muslim and you have the temerity to vote for someone who’s not part of the political establishment you are condemned. That is Islamophobia, that is racism.”

Rahman himself spoke to a standing ovation. He said, “I have embarrassed them because in Tower Hamlets in London they have a Bengali Muslim mayor. I am proud to be a controversial mayor.”

He said he would work with Pickles’ officers but said, “I am only accountable to the people of this borough.”

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