Muslim Sharia Believers to March Against Sale of Alcohol on Fashionable Brick Lane in London's East End
The Shariah Project, a London-based Muslim group, is to march through Brick Lane on Friday against the drinking and sale of alcohol along the nightlife spot.
Members of the group believe the consumption or selling of alcohol to be "sinful" under Islamic law and should be "strictly prohibited".
They hope that the rally, scheduled for the afternoon following Friday prayers, will illuminate the ills of alcohol.
Spokesman for the group Abu Rumaysah told the East London Avertiser: "There's a lot of problems in the area like anti-social behaviour caused by drinking and a lot of the Muslims are involved in selling alcohol in their shops."
He added: "The one who is not a Muslim is already going to hellfire. The one who drinks or sells alcohol God can forgive if he mends his ways."
Rumaysah added that hate preacher Anjem Choudary is one of its "mentors".
Abdul Muhid, a shopowner, said he contacted the Islamic group after the local council raised alcohol abuse as a problem in the borough.
"One of the problems in the recession is that people are depressed and some have hit the bottle," he said.
"My duty as a Muslim is to convince people of the ills of alcohol.
"In the Islamic teaching drinking and selling alcohol is a sin."
Dr Usama Hasan of the anti-extremist group Quilliam said: "In Islamic teaching you shouldn't drink alcohol but you can't impose Islamic law on other people. This is a democracy.
"To try to impose sharia by force, which is their stated aim, is completely stupid and against Islamic teaching."
Brick Lane in the heart of London's Bangaldeshi community is famous for its many curry houses.
Since the late 1990s, Brick Lane has become one of London's trendiest quarters and been the site of several of the city's best known night clubs, notably 93 Feet East and The Vibe Bar, both built on the site of The Old Truman Brewery, once the industrial centre of the area, and now an office and entertainment complex.
Last week, a judge at the Old Bailey heard that Jordan Horner, 19, Ricardo MacFarlane, 26, and a 23-year-old man who cannot be named for legal reasons had told one couple they could not hold hands while walking down the street because it was a Muslim area. They attacked a group of men drinking on the street and said that a woman would face "hellfire" for the way she was dressed.
The three were sentenced to 68 weeks, 12 months and 24 weeks in prison respectively.
The rally is scheduled to begin in Osborn Street before moving up Brick Lane to Bethnal Green Road.
And another story on this without the hellfire talk:
Muslim Anti-Alcohol Protest in Brick Lane: Hundreds to Target London Revellers
A planned march by Muslims against the sale and consumption of alcohol in the hip heart of east London has drawn "overwhelming support" from around the country, organisers have claimed.
Protesters intend to protest on Friday in Brick Lane, Tower Hamlets, by targeting shops selling alcohol in a street famous for its trendy bars and curry restaurants.
The demonstrators said that selling booze was un-Islamic and caused social problems.
But critics fear that the event by the Shariah Project will be yet another source of division in the borough.
In September, Tower Hamlets witnessed the anti-Muslim English Defence League trying to march against Islam. Last week, three men who were part of a bogus "Muslim patrol" were jailed for threatening and beating up people they claimed had breached strict Islamic rules on alcohol and dress.
Abu Rumaysah, spokesman for the Waltham Forest-based Shariah Project, claimed that groups of Muslims would come from as far away as the Midlands to take part in the demonstration.
He forecast a turnout of "hundreds" instead of fewer than the 50 first expected. Police would be surprised at the scale of the turnout, he predicted.
Rumaysah, 30, told IBTimes UK: "We've had an overwhelming response from people supporting us from all over the country. Lots of them say they are coming and we will have groups from Luton, Birmingham, Derby and Leicester. There's also a big Muslim community in Tower Hamlets, so there should be a good turnout."
He insisted it would be a peaceful protest and rejected accusations that it could create disharmony.
Shariah the solution
"It's not fair to say this will cause division," said Rumaysah. "The most damaging thing is the alcohol. If you go in to the hospitals you can see the damage it does. This is a rally which is happening because we see the shariah in the UK as the solution for many of the fundamental problems the community faces.
"We are not going to be fighting anybody. But it would not stop us from protesting peacefully if some people did oppose us."
Politicians in the borough have condemned the event as "provocative". The leader of the Labour group on Tower Hamlets Council said that the march threatened to divide communities in the borough, which is one of the most diverse in the country.
"Everyone has a right to peaceful protest but I urge the Shariah Project to think carefully about the impact their actions will have," said Cllr Sirajul Islam.
"While Muslims may choose to abstain from alcohol, it is not right to forcefully push one view upon others. Provocative attempts to push a radical shariah agenda will serve only to widen the divide between our communities," he said.
Tower Hamlets council is working with police on a response to the march. A spokesman told IBTimes UK: "We are in conversation with the police to preserve community cohesion. We support community cohesion and would not want the actions of a small group to impact on this."
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "An appropriate policing plan will be in place. We are not applying to the Home Office for it to be banned."
I'm genuinely concerned about the events in the media lately. From the sharia patrol to the Woolwich incident, the attempts of segregation and now this. I just see it recreating hostility towards muslims in general, and a building fear/belief that "they" want to force non muslims to comply with their religious views rather than live and let live. Fucking depressing.