Exposure of radical Islamist political maneuvering seems to have helped turn voters against them in last week's elections. Reporter Andrew Gilligan, who reported on the connections, summarizes the results here.
Lutfur Rahman, a Labour Party leader at the Tower Hamlets Council in East London, was ousted following reports of his connections with the radical Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE). He was replaced by Helal Abbas, another Labour Party member, who attacked the group's influence on the council.
The IFE is based at the East London Mosque, which calls the group a "social welfare organization." A very different picture emerged earlier this year, following a brilliant expose on Channel 4's "Dispatches" and in the pages of the London Telegraph.
In fact, the organization, which supports Sharia law, seeks to change British culture and institutions "from ignorance to Islam." The IFE and the mosque have hosted a number of radical Islamists, including Anwar al-Awlaki and Azad Ali, who has defended Hamas and Hizballah and justified the killing of British troops in Iraq.
Re-elected was senior Labour Party official Jim Fitzpatrick, who stood against the IFE's growing influence. For that, the IFE targeted him for defeat, claiming his cooperation with the Telegraph investigation showed he was "Islamophobic" and should be removed from Parliament.
Instead, Fitzpatrick was re-elected with a much larger majority. Coming in a distant third was George Galloway, whose Respect Party won just 17.5 percent of the vote. Galloway's defeat came after the Telegraph obtained a secret recording of him stating that his victory in the 2005 general election in a neighboring district owed "more than I can say, more than it would be wise for me to say, to the IFE."
In Galloway's former district, Labour Party candidate Rushanara Ali won a commanding victory to become one of Britain's first three Muslim MPs. The result occurred after Abjol Miah, the Respect Party candidate in that race and a leading IFE activist, was secretly filmed by Channel 4 stating: "We've consolidated ourselves now. We've got a lot of influence and power in the council, councillors, politicians."
As Ali declared victory and mentioned Galloway by name, her supporters reportedly shouted "scum" and "out, out, out." In all, Galloway's Respect party lost 11 of the12 seats it won in Tower Hamlets in 2006.
Rahman, the deposed Labour Party chief in Tower Hamlets, withdrew from the race when it became apparent he would lose.
As leader, he promoted plans to erect ceremonial arches shaped like a hijab. Radical materials, including taped Awlaki sermons, were made available at public libraries, and substantial sums of council money were paid to the East London Mosque and other community groups linked to the IFE.
"This was a victory against extremism. We were really fearful, both for Jim [Fitzpatrick] and Rushanara [Ali]," said Ansar Ahmed Ullah, a local opponent of the IFE. "The IFE and its allies fought a very divisive campaign, just focusing on the Muslim community as if no one else lived in the borough. But people wised up."
"It is a very good result, thanks to your investigation," Badrul Islam, another local foe of the IFE, told the Telegraph. "They tried to pull out all the stops, and they failed."