Muslim community leaders have expressed growing fears of community tension after a far-right group posted a video threatening "Christian patrols" in Tower Hamlets.
The East London Mosque said it was "shocked to note the provocation and antics" of Britain First, a splinter group of the British National Party, which has claimed it carried out ‘Christian Patrols’ outside the mosque last Friday evening. It was a reaction to the so-called "Muslim patrols" by individuals in the area, where a number of Muslims had threatened to attack gay people and confiscate alcohol.
Britain First, which is led by Paul Golding, filmed themselves drinking cans of lager, handing out leaflets for ‘Christian Patrol’, and seeking out 'Muslim Patrol' for a confrontation. The group then unfurled a ‘Resistance’ banner outside the mosque.
Three members of the 'Muslim Patrol' were jailed last year for intimidation. Jordan Horner and another 23-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told one couple they could not hold hands while walking down the street, because it was in a "Muslim area".
The group, which included Ricardo MacFarlane also threatened men who were drinking and criticised the way women were dressed.
The East London mosque said in a statement that it unequivocally condemned the perpetrators, and had been involved in reporting activities to the police, and removing stickers which said ‘Gay Free Zones'.
Dilowar Khan, executive director of East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre, said: “Efforts to intimidate and marginalise our community have been relentless.
"However, we take comfort in the support given by our partners in the community, of all faiths and none, who have always stood firmly together to oppose hatred and division. We are working with the authorities in response to this incident, which has left many people in fear of intimidation and threats.
"Our response to the so-called ‘Muslim Patrols’ was unequivocal; our response to the so-called ‘Christian Patrols’ will be the same. We will not let those who espouse hatred to damage our wonderful community relations.”
Julian Bond, director of the Christian Muslim Forum, said he supported police and community efforts to half both patrols. He said: “The ‘Muslim Patrols’ had nothing to do with the East London Mosque or the mainstream Muslim community. The so-called ‘Christian Patrols’ from this hate group have nothing to do with the Christian community either.”
Dr Glyn Robbins, chair of the local anti-hate network, United East End, said in a statement of opposition to the patrols: “The people of Tower Hamlets will not be intimidated by this mindless stunt. We have shown our solidarity in the face of such intimidation before and will do so again.”
"Police at Tower Hamlets are aware of an internet video showing recent activity on the Borough," a Metropolitan Police spokesman said.
"We will work with our partners in policing the diverse communities in Tower Hamlets to provide a safe environment for those who live, work and visit the borough.
"The Metropolitan Police Service takes these incidents very seriously and any activities that may raise community tension will be monitored.
"No arrests have been made."