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‘Those who forget history are bound to repeat its mistakes’

14:22 13 February 2013

Jim Fitzpatrick

Jim Fitzpatrick

Archant

Labour MP for Poplar & Limehouse Jim Fitzpatrick

Last month, I signed the Holocaust Memorial Day Book of Commitment to honour the innocent people who were persecuted and murdered for their beliefs or their orientation.

Communities later marked Memorial Day across the world with ceremonies and special events.

It was a day to remember the innocent victims, and recommit to combat all forms of extremism.

Recent headlines have reminded us that discrimination and prejudice can still happen on our doorstep. We have for some time done all we can to prevent the English Defence League coming into Tower Hamlets with their message of hate and intolerance.

The news that there is now a gang of youths on our streets enforcing an extremist brand of Islam through hounding members of the public was a shock to many.

It’s amazing that people from outside our borough seem determined to come into Tower Hamlets and tell us how to live.

These events act as a reminder of the challenge we will continue to face in our society as it changes.

Tower Hamlets was named as a borough of ‘hyper’ diversity in the last census and with such diversity there will be problems.

Furthermore, in an economy where there isn’t enough to go around it’s easy to see how frustration can turn to blame and how blame can turn to hate.

We’re not only seeing this on our streets, but on the streets of Marseille, Athens, Copenhagen and Madrid. How can we counter this growing problem?

This may be a national or European issue, but we need a local response.

It is as a community we denounced the EDL and Muslim patrols, and in the same community we need to work together to stamp out extremism and prejudice in all its forms.

Better education and opportunity for young people for example, will ensure that they don’t embrace hatred out of frustration.

There are many things each and every one of us can do to ensure we never forget where extremism and prejudice eventually lead. Those who forget history are bound to repeat its mistakes.

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