Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman joins calls to Home Secretary to ban EDL march

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets has tonight formally called on the Home Secretary to ban a proposed march through London’s East End by the English Defence League.

Lutfur Rahman has written to Theresa May urging police to use their powers to stop the EDL coming to Whitechapel on September 3, adding yet more weight to calls for a ban from MPs, councillors, London Assembly figures and church leaders.

“The EDL has a history of provocative marches in areas with large Muslim populations,” he said in a Town Hall statement.

“They relish the opportunity to reap division on one of the most diverse communities in Britain and turning residents against one another.”

The move follows events in Norway last Friday when Anders Breivik killed 76 people in a bombing and shooting — making references to the EDL in a 1,500-page “manifesto” confessing to his actions.

Mr Rahman has written to the Mayor of Oslo expressing sympathies and condolences in the aftermath of the tragedy.

But the EDL said on Tuesday it was determined to go ahead with the march through Whitechapel.

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Its leader Tommy Robinson denied any links with the Norwegian bomber and pointed out that Breivik’s “manifesto” described them as “naive fools” who believed in the democratic process.

Breivik boasted of having 600 EDL members as Facebook friends.

Mr Rahman claimed efforts to keep the EDL out “have not been helped by a handful of politicians and bloggers stoking the flames, seeking to paint Tower Hamlets as an ‘Islamic republic’ and its mayor as a ‘fundamentalist sympathiser’.”

He is speaking at a rally tomorrow evening at the London Muslim Centre in Whitechapel, calling for the EDL march to be stopped.

The mayor is joined on the platform by politicians of all parties and church leaders including the new Bishop of Stepney in his first public role since his inauguration last Friday. Anti-fascist campaigners from Norway are also flying to London to speak at the rally.