Campaigners hit out at “hate peddling” group’s East End conference

Campaigners have hit out at a business centre for allowing a “hateful” Islamic splinter group to hold a conference in its hall next week.

Activists are piling pressure on the Water Lily Business Centre in Mile End Road to cancel its planned event with Hizb ut-Tahrir – a group which has been banned in many countries and is accused of peddling homophobic and racist messages - on July 9.

The group operates globally and wants to bring about a Muslim state, or Khilafah.

Representatives from several organisations including anti-extremism body Quilliam Foundation and pro-integration group Muslim Voices are calling on Tower Hamlets Council to step in over the matter.

Harry Burn, leading the organisations, said: “I thought that we’d seen the back of these groups in Tower Hamlets. They portray a horrible message and most Muslims I know despise them. We are trying to get Muslims and non-Muslims to say no to any sort of extremism.”

Ghaffar Hussain, head of Quilliam’s outreach and training unit, called the hosting of the group in Tower Hamlets “very worrying”.

He added: “This is a group that has been kicked out by virtually every mosque in the country already. Tower Hamlets has had its fair share of problems and does not need Hizb ut-Tahrir marching in to stir up more hatred and divisions.”

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But the Water Lily centre, which offers office and retail space along with banqueting and conference facilities, says that because the group is not banned in the UK they are within their rights to host the event.

Director of the centre Syed Ahmed said: “We don’t have a right to cancel a booking without a valid reason.

“We are going to monitor them closely and they have to give us the speakers list. We have strict guidelines for them. We are already liaising with the police and the local authority.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir has accused the opposition groups of “baseless scaremongering”.

It said its event is a debate on the “vision for the Muslim world” and is open to all.

Taji Mustafa, the group’s media representative, said: “People should do their research. The conference is about the changes in the Muslim world and what the way forward. There are a lot of people who are very interested in discussing these issues.”

Tower Hamlets police said they have been informed of the event and have been liaising with the groups involved.

The council said because the business centre is not a council property it is in no position to step in.

A spokesman added: “The manager has been in touch with us and is committed to sharing information as it becomes available.”