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Mosque protest update: Newham People’s Alliance “represent working class majority” while Newham Council “will not be bullied by vocal minority”

17:00 06 February 2013

Supporters gather outside Newham Town Hall. Photo credit : Justin Setterfield

Supporters gather outside Newham Town Hall. Photo credit : Justin Setterfield

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Protests organised by the Newham People’s Alliance pressure group outside Newham Town Hall on Friday provoked strong opinions from the community.

Here to read in full are statements from both sides of the issue defending their positions.

Statement from the Newham People’s Alliance:

“The Newham People’s Alliance, represented most recently through the 2,000 who occupied East Ham Town Hall on February 1, are a non-partisan muti-faith, multi-party pressure group formed to compel those in power into dialogue with the ordinary people of Newham who have heretofore been sidelined.

“We represent the working class majority who have been neglected by a mayor busy empire building at the expense of the most deprived and vulnerable people in his borough.

“Our message is clear: that the Mayor we supported for the best part of two decades, Robin Wales, has lost his way; and the absolute council he presides over is now absolutely disconnected from the ordinary people who live here.

“Regarding the recent email statement by a trustee of the Riverine Centre Mosque to Newham Council executives, printed in your paper: we do not deem it of any significance.

“We are on the ground engaging with Muslims, their imams and leaders, including users of the Riverine Centre, and share their concerns and ambitions.

“The Riverine Centre is a non-partisan, apolitical trust which is constitutionally barred from making comments on political action, groups and policy.

“The timely and unusual statement has clearly been coerced from the trust through political pressure and under threat of demolition (currently being pursued by the council at the High Court), in order to maintain the standing of a mayor who has come under unprecedented pressure from the people – 100,000 of whom are Muslim.

“If anything, it is a sign that the people are shaking the corridors of power.

“Newham’s social, faith and charitable institutions belong to the people of Newham and are not for sale, misappropriation or empire building.

“We will continue to grow our campaign on the streets and in the halls of power until the Mayor accommodates the people’s concerns or is replaced by pressure, referendum, or ballot.

“We welcome all those who share our concerns to join us, whatever their background, faith, and political colour.

“We will fight together for a more equitable, sincere and accountable Newham.”

Statement from Newham Council

“This new organisation does not represent the views of Newham residents and their actions are not even supported by the people they claim to represent.

“Our planning and enforcement decisions regarding the Mosque site in Abbey Mills have been made in a fair, consistent and transparent manner.

“The protest on Friday was largely organised outside Newham and a large proportion of the attendees were also from outside the borough.

“The council will not be bullied by a vocal minority into favouring one part of our community over others.

“The protest was small and well behaved, therefore the vast majority of Newham residents were able to get on with their lives as normal and the threatened disruption was minimal.”

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