British media is reporting that Lutfur Rahman, a former east London mayor removed from office after being found guilty of electoral fraud, has been re-elected to the post. Rahman, formerly of the Labour party, is known to have close ties to the European wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, a Southeast Asian Islamist political party close to the Global Muslim Brotherhood. According to a BBC report:
May 6, 2022 Following his victory, Mr Rahman told the BBC he was very pleased voters had given him “another chance to serve them” and “deliver my progressive agenda which I started in 2010”. “The people of the borough gave a verdict today. I was in the court of the people and they said in a loud voice that they wanted Lutfur Rahman and his team to serve them for the next four years,” he added.
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The article further states that Rahman’s Aspire party had two seats going into the election on 5 May 2022 but won 24 of the 45 seats in Tower Hamlets, which has a sizeable British-Bangladeshi population. With this, the party defeated incumbent Labour mayor John Biggs, who had held this post since 2015, when the High Court ruled that Rahman had broken electoral law in various ways, including misusing voluntary sector grants to gain electoral support and using fake “ghost” voters. Rahman was the first person since the 19th century to be found guilty of the Victorian-era misdeed of unlawfully using religious influence.
In 2010, the Labor party removed Rahman from his post over his close ties to the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), the European wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, a Southeast Asian Islamist movement close to the Global Muslim Brotherhood (GMB). British investigative journalist Andrew Gilligan found that the IFE supported Rahman’s 2010 mayoral bid, saying the politician had received “significant help” from a senior IFE official who canvassed councilors on his behalf. Rahman later refused to deny that the IFE had helped secure his election. According to Gilligan, in the years after Rahman’s election, there was a significant rise in council payments to a number of organizations linked to the IFE.
The IFE, based at the hardline East London Mosque, was founded in 1990 by Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, a leading Jamaat-e-Islami member. In 2013 Uddin was sentenced to death in absentia by a Bangladeshi war crimes tribunal for his role in the abduction and murder of 18 journalists and intellectuals during the 1971 Liberation War against Pakistan. IFE leaders were recorded expressing opposition to democracy and support for Sharia law. The IFE has organized meetings with extremists, including Taliban allies, and has also been a frequent sponsor of events associated with the GMB in the UK.
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