Councillor candidate accused of endorsing hate preacher who praised Bin Laden and wants homosexuality outlawed
PUBLISHED: 16:23 29 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:43 29 January 2019
A Labour candidate standing in one of the borough’s by-elections next month has apologised after he liked the pages of two hate preachers on his Facebook account.
Asik Rahman has been accused of endorsing Dr Zakir Naik and Mufti Ismail Menk on social media.
Dr Naik was barred from the UK in 2010 for praising Osama Bin Laden and saying “all Muslims should be terrorists”
He also said homosexuality is “unnatural” and should not be legal.
Mr Rahman also followed and shared posts by Mufti, who called gay people “worse than animals”.
The candidate hopes to win the vacant seat in the Shadwell ward on February 7.
Asik has since unliked both pages and increased his privacy so the contents of his profile on Facebook cannot be viewed.
He said: “I am wholeheartedly sorry for liking these individuals’ pages.
“I was unaware of the extreme and nasty nature of their views. This was a genuine mistake and these people do not represent my views.”
However Isle of Dogs Conservative councillor Peter Golds said Mr Rahman should not be standing as a candidate.
He said: “By liking these pages he is endorsing these people and the terrible views they represent.
“It’s unbelievable that he didn’t know about the absolutely abhorrent things these men believe. This borough has a reputation and it’s disgraceful that we see it happening again and again.
“The vetting [of candidates] is just not being done. He should not be standing.”
A leaked draft of the Home Office’s 2015 counter-extremism strategy said Tower Hamlets was a “place where allegations of extremism, homophobia and anti-Semitism had been allowed to fester” after four schoolgirls from the borough were radicalised into going to Syria in 2014 and 2015.
Labour declined to comment beyond Mr Rahman’s apology, saying it had not received an official complaint.
Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs said: “As a councillor [Mr Rahman] will of course be bound by our rules on behaviour and conduct.”
Elections are taking place in Shadwell and Lansbury wards after two Labour councillors quit over Christmas.
Muhammed Harun resigned following allegations that he owned two properties while living in social housing.
He has denied the claims which are being investigated by the council’s monitoring officer.
Ruhul Amin resigned his seat in Shadwell for personal reasons.
The resignations follow councillor Mohammed Pappu’s suspension from the Labour Party after he shared antisemitic memes on social media.
Mr Pappu apologised and told the council’s standards committee he would do diversity awareness training.