Traders in Brick Lane have rejected calls to stop selling alcohol after a rally was held by a Muslim group that accused them of “destroying the community”.
Restaurant and off-licence workers told the Advertiser that a prohibition on the sale of alcohol would “kill” business in Brick Lane and force them to close.
Islamist firebrand Anjem Choudary led a small march through Brick Lane last Friday to tell off-licence owners they must “fear Allah” and stop selling alcohol.
Police had to separate his group The Shariah Project from men thought to be from the EDL before escorting the march through east London’s famous culinary quarter.
Kabir Hussain, 38, who works in a Brick Lane restaurant, said: “This guy’s coming trying to teach us about our religion. I told him to preach somewhere else.
“We are Muslims, we are not drinking. But we can’t stop other people drinking. It’s your choice.”
Azmal Hussain, 62, chair of Brick Lane caterers association, confronted Mr Choudary as the march fizzled out.
He said: “I told him, ‘shut up, I really mean it’.
“This is for us a livelihood, our bread and butter. I’m not drinking, but he’s saying we can’t serve it.”
Malique Shah, 45, who has worked in a Brick Lane off-licence for 20 years, said: “If we didn’t sell alcohol we couldn’t stay here. In one week we would have to close shop and go away.
“This is a multi-culture. Brick Lane is a famous place and many different people come here.
“Without alcohol Brick Lane will be dead.”
Salman Farsi from the London Muslim Centre said: “While Islam may prohibit the consumption and sale of alcohol for Muslims, it is not for any particular groups to impose those views on others, nor bully other communities.”
Mayor Lutfur Rahman said: “We strongly believe in the right to free speech and association, and I am pleased that, with the police’s support, this group were able to exercise that right whilst upholding respect for our communities, which is the hallmark of our ‘No Place for Hate’ pledge.”
Cllr Sirajul Islam, leader of the Labour group, said: “While Muslims may choose to abstain from alcohol, it is not right to forcefully push one view upon others.”
He added: “Provocative attempts to push a radical Sharia agenda will serve only to widen the divide between our communities, especially in light of the recent challenges we have faced from the EDL and so called ‘Muslim patrols’.”
EVF News Feed.