March 16 2014 Latest news:
Adam Barnett, Reporter
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
EXCLUSIVE: A Muslim group will march through Brick Lane on Friday to campaign against the drinking and selling of alcohol, which they say is “sinful” under Islamic law.
Members of The Shariah Project say drinking alcohol is “strictly prohibited” and hope to highlight the ills of alcohol with a rally after Friday prayers on December 13.
Spokesman Abu Rumaysah, 30, said: “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 the hell fire. The one who drinks or sells alcohol ... God can forgive if he mends his ways.”
Mr Rumaysah, who lives in Waltham Forest where the group is based, said hate preacher Anjem Choudary is one of its “mentors”.
Abdul Muhid, 31, who lives in Whitechapel where he works in a shop, said he contacted the group to plan a rally after the council raised the issue of alcohol abuse in the borough.
He said: “One of the problems in the recession is that people are depressed and some have hit the bottle.
“My duty as a Muslim is to convince people of the ills of alcohol.”
He added: “In the Islamic teaching drinking and selling alcohol is definitely a sin.”
An East London Mosque official said the rally was a publicity stunt that would “antagonise local people and business owners”.
He said The Shariah Project is “strongly linked” to Anjem Choudary’s group Al-Muhajiroun, members of which were recently sentenced to jail for threatening people drinking alcohol in east London in so-called “Muslim Patrols”.
Dr Usama Hasan of the anti-extremist group Quilliam, who is based in Waltham Forest, 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 and impose Sharia by force, which is their stated aim, is completely stupid and against Islamic teaching.”
The rally will start in Osborn Street at 2pm on Friday and march up Brick Lane to Bethnal Green Road.