Police are investigating a sign that has been posted near an east London park warning dog-walkers to stay away because it was an ‘Islamic area’.
The sign was posted up near Bartlett Park in Tower Hamlets and stated: “Do not walk your dog here! Muslims do not like dogs. This is an Islamic area now.”
The investigation is likely to focus on whether the sign, described as ‘highly divisive’ by the local MP Jim Fitzpatrick, was put up by Islamic extremists or by right wing groups in an attempt to inflame community tensions. Police have also increased patrols in the area.
A local resident spotted the poster on Wednesday and contacted Fitzpatrick, Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse. Fitzpatrick immediately reported the sign to police, also calling upon Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman to look into the matter.
In his letter to police Fitzpatrick wrote: “I have no idea whether this was posted by the EDL, Islamists or another organisation or element. Regardless, this is a highly divisive sign. “I am writing to request a criminal investigation.”
The Metrpolitan Police responded to Fitzpatrick’s concerns via Twitter: “The material has been taken down and a crime report completed for further investigation.”
It is not the first time that Fitzpatrick has addressed the issue of perceived threats of Islamification. In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph in 2010 he voiced concerns that certain groups were attempting to infiltrate the Labour Party in order to create an “Islamic social and political order”.
In an official statement, Tower Hamlets Borough Commander Dave Stringer said: “Bartlett Park does not have any history of community tension; however we are investigating the posting of these signs and conducting additional patrols to ensure that community reassurance and confidence are maintained in the area. At this time we retain an open mind concerning the motive behind the putting up of these signs.”
— Tower Hamlets MPS (@MPSTowerHam) May 30, 2014
In the days following the appearance of the original poster, a member of the community tweeted the following picture of a “response” poster which states: “ If you want to live in an ‘Islamic’ area, try Pakistan or Sudan. Bye.”