Screen capture from a video in which a hooded man goes up to another man drinking alcohol, and yells at him for doing this in what he calls a "Muslim area."
Three videos have emerged online showing several men harassing passers-by in the streets of East London for drinking alcohol, wearing short skirts or “looking gay”. These unidentified men describe themselves as a “Muslim patrol” that aims to apply sharia law in the streets near the East London mosque. While these appear to be isolated incidents perpetrated by delinquents rather than by organised radical Islamists, the authorities are taking them seriously.
The East London Mosque, as well as several other Muslim groups, has expressed indignation at this behaviour. After receiving several complaints, London police have launched an investigation, and have increased their presence in the borough of Tower Hamlets, where the videos were filmed.
The men in the “patrols” are careful not to show their faces in these videos, which they heavily edited. (FRANCE 24 blurred the faces of the victims). All of these incidents are filmed at night. In one video, they use a megaphone to order a man and a young woman to leave the “Muslim area”, after taking issue with the woman’s short skirt. When the woman tells them she is appalled and reminds them that they are in Great Britain, one of the men replies, “We don’t care. It’s not-so-great Britain.” She calls them vigilantes, which he seems to relish: “Vigilantes, implementing Islam upon your own necks.” In the same video, the men also harass several other people for drinking alcohol. The men speak with native British accents, at times briefly switching to Arabic.
In another video, the “patrol” harasses a man they identify as gay, yelling at him to leave the “Muslim area” and making homophobic remarks. The man takes this calmly, sarcastically telling the ringleader: “Yeah, you’re such a man.”
In a third video, the men film several H&M lingerie advertisements that have been painted over to hide the model.
Speaking at East London Mosque during a sermon on Friday, Shaykh Shams Ad Duha responded to these videos, explaining that in his interpretation of Islam (and citing many texts and Islamic scholars to support it), trying to apply sharia law to non-Muslims actually goes contrary to sharia, even in Islamic states.
Video posted on Ebhrahim College's YouTube channel.
At 12 minutes into the video of the sermon, he says: “And we saw that video where? That was Tower Hamlets. Those are the streets of Tower Hamlets, in England. Enough said, right? … It’s a problem - I don’t know if it’s a psychological problem, or what – that people think that just because ‘I’ve now become practicing’ and so on, ‘I’ve got to go around and behave like a complete bigot.’ What people forget is that ‘how I behave just believing … and praying and implementing sharia within myself doesn’t give me the right to go out and behave how I like outside of myself.’ How you behave out on the streets with other people is also governed by sharia, by the teachings of Islam.”
“We live in England, not Saudi Arabia!”
Sajidah Patel is a university student.
I live not far from Tower Hamlets, but I first heard about these people in the Daily Mail, when they ran an article about their behaviour. [The videos were first written about by The Commentator]. As a Muslim myself it disappoints me to see young Muslims behave in such a disgraceful way. We live in England, not Saudi Arabia! Living in London, they have to adapt to the multi-cultural society we live in, or take a plan back home!It’s not surprising, though, to learn that they are getting away with this behaviour, since the government has in the past allowed other groups like Muslims against Crusades, who tried to introduce “sharia law zones” , to spread their hate on the streets of London. [After a number of controversial incidents, the government ended up banning the group in 2011.] Authorities should stand up to groups who spread hate and do it quickly or else we will see more and more youngsters shunning their country and becoming involved in extremism, which is not the true face of Islam. They are giving ammunition to Islamophobic people when there are so many moderates like myself who want nothing more than to live side by side with our neighbours, in peace, regardless of the beliefs, colour or sexual orientation.
“I’m surprised this would happen here, where it’s a real melting pot of cultures”
FRANCE 24 spoke to more than half a dozen owners of businesses located near the scene of the videos, none of whom had encountered the “Muslim Patrol”. However, one pub patron, Robert Fox, had seen the videos.
We haven’t witnessed any such incidents, but it’s been a subject of discussion at the bar. People are basically saying that they should have the freedom to walk around here in peace, and that everybody should be entitled to their own beliefs. However nobody thinks these thugs are representative of all Muslims.I’m very surprised this would happen here in Tower Hamlets. It’s a real melting pot of cultures; everyone is generally very amicable. I have never felt threatened by anyone. There is no “Muslim area” – people with all sorts of backgrounds live here, not just Muslims. There’s a good amount of police presence in the area, so I imagine these men won’t be able to bother people for long before they get caught.