Updated: Stickers declare ‘gay-free zone’ in east London
Updated with comment from the Muslim Council of Britain
Stickers have been placed around London’s East End, declaring it a “gay-free zone”.
The messages, posted on buildings and lampposts close to Shoreditch gay nightspots George & Dragon and the Joiners Inn, say “Arise and warn. Gay free zone. Verily Allah is severe in punishment.”
They have also been posted on Whitechapel High Street and outside a school.
Pictures of the stickers were sent in by a local resident, who said he tried to remove them.
He told PinkNews.co.uk: “Tower Hamlets council won praise from Stonewall for its LGBT friendliness, but these stickers are a warning that Islamist extremists in Tower Hamlets have not gone away from London’s streets.
“According to police figures, a homophobic crime is committed in Tower Hamlets at the rate of more than five a month.”
The resident suggested that they may have been posted by members of Islam4UK, which has been accused of being a front for the banned Al Mahajaroun Group.
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “There have been a series of homophobic threats and assaults by Asian youths on LGBT people in the East End over recent years.
“I’ve been attacked by Muslim youths three times in and around Brick Lane. In all three attacks, the assailants shouted religious slogans. My LGBT Muslim friends who live in the area are nervous and anxious. They fear attack and dare not reveal their sexuality.”
The East London Mosque, based in Whitechapel, did not return requests for comment.
The Muslim Council of Britain said it “[stands] firm against discrimination and violence against any people”.
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It added: “These stickers are wrong and not in keeping with our Islamic teaching to respect our neighbours.”
However, Jack Gilbert, the co-chair of LGBT forum Rainbow Hamlets, suggested that the stickers could be the work of the groups such as the English Defence League.
“We have evidence that they were very likely to have been produced by far-right sources in order to forment community tension,” he said.
He added that police were aware of the stickers and urged people to report them if they come across them.
A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets council said: “We work hard to actively foster a climate of acceptance and tolerance, and combat all forms of discrimination and harassment within the borough.
“We are appalled by the actions of those who have produced and posted these stickers. We treat issues like this very seriously, and these incidents are being investigated by the borough’s Hate Crime Team who are working alongside the local police.”