On Tuesday 4th of June scores of young people and community members attended the Aasha Youth Seminar titled ‘Far Right Extremism – A Threat to Society’. The seminar, held at the Osmani Centre, was organised as a response to the growing concerns from the youth of Tower Hamlets regarding the sharp increase of threats, attacks on places of worship and assaults on Muslims across the UK by the EDL and other far right groups since the Horrific murder in Woolwich two weeks ago.
At the seminar participants heard from Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman, Borough Commander Dave Stringer, Rev Alan Green, ‘Tell MAMA’, Abul Khayar Ali, Osmani Trust Programme Manager Abu Mumin and Osmani Trust Executive Director Shafiur Rahman.
The Mayor Lutfur Rahman reassured the participants that he will listen to the concerns of the young people and will do his best to ensure that groups such as EDL are not allowed to come and disrupt the harmony in Tower Hamlets. Borough Commander Dave Stringer took feedback from the audience and assured people that there are sufficient police resources to deal with any threats from the EDL and swift action will be taken against any attacks. The Borough Commander urged the participants that all incidents should be reported to the police for them to deal with accordingly. Tell MAMA reported that over 200 anti-Muslim incidents and 8 attacks on places of worship took place over the last two weeks alone. Other speakers stressed the importance of working in unity as one community, to stand up against racism and islamophobia and to not allow extremists to divide our communities.
Participants also heard the harrowing story of a local 17 year old girl who was subjected to verbal Islamophobic abuse, by two Caucasian males. The perpetrators tried to remove her veil. They snatched her Oyster Card while hurling abuse at her. The incident took place in Poplar while the young girl was attempting to board a bus on her way to attend an A-level exam.
This event was organised to give the youth an opportunity to voice their concerns. Many young people took the opportunity and asked a number of questions during the panel discussion. A number of participants also stressed the importance of Aasha Project continuing to organise such events where young people can directly voice concerns and issues to the Mayor and Police.
Muhinur Choudhury, Manager of the Aasha project, said: “This seminar was extremely important to highlight and communicate the structures and support in place to protect our communities whilst encouraging young people to stay calm and report any incidences directly to the Police.”
Notes to Editors
- Aasha is a programme of the Osmani Trust
- Aasha is a programme working with young people in Tower Hamlets who are involved in gangs or at risk of becoming embroiled in that lifestyle. It has been active over the last ten years and has supported many young people in resisting street gang involvement, mediated in dozens of real life conflicts and worked to deglamorise ‘gangster’ culture.
- The term ‘gang’ is often used to mean different things. Aasha does not subscribe to the view that all young people ‘hanging out together’ are in gangs nor does it agree that all ‘gangs’ are bad for society. It prefers the distinctions made by Hallsworth between peer groups, street gangs and criminal groups and advocates the view that crime and violence are to be rejected not young people.
For more information, please contact Muhinur.choudhury on email@example.com or 020 7247 8080. For information on Aasha and its work please visit www.osmanitrust.org or www.aashaproject.wordpress.com
Aasha Gang Mediation Project
A: Osmani Trust, Osmani Centre, 58 Underwood Road, London E1 5AW
T: 020 72470 8080