MP calls for ceasefire in Gaza and for support for Muslim community in Tower Hamlets

Apsana Begum speaking at the Israel Palestine debate on Monday. Pic: UK Parliament

Tower Hamlets MP Apsana Begum has called for a ceasefire in Gaza and support for Muslim communities in her constituency facing Islamaphobic death threats.

MP Apsana Begum spoke on behalf of her constituents in Poplar and Limehouse at an ‘Israel and Palestine’ debate in Westminster Hall on Monday. Tower Hamlets has the largest Muslim population (by percentage) in the country.

In a debate on three petitions calling for a ceasefire, urging Israel to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza and for the Government to remain neutral in the conflict, Ms Begum asked: “What is it about Palestinian people that means that, for this Government and the political establishment, there appears to be no limit to what can be done to them, no limit to how many can die and no care as to their rights?”

Begum said: “I share the absolute horror at the disregard for Palestinian life that has been displayed across the political establishment.” 

Begum asked that the East London Mosque and London Muslim Centreget the security they desperately need’ after the mosque received a bomb threat last week.

East London Mosque in Whitechapel. Pic: Fred Romero

The same letter was sent to Apex Primary School in Ilford, which referred to a 9am delivery on Friday, December 8.

Police were called to the East London Mosque on Whitechapel Road last Thursday and 700 people were subsequently evacuated from the mosque and the London Muslim Centre. Nothing suspicious was found.

Begum listed some of the hate comments she had personally received in an article for Labour Outlook since being elected, which included: “If England doesn’t kick you and every other ungrateful foreign beggar out very soon there will be no England anymore…” and “People like you should be expelled from parliament. The only people you represent, are foreign nationals.”

Begum said the hate represents a “growing current within society”. She said: “The situation is escalating, not least exacerbated by those trying to capitalise on current events by spreading hate and division.”

The Muslim Association of Britain released a statement in response to the threats sent to the school and mosque, which said: “There has been a 600% rise in Islamophobia, our government must act now to ensure the safety of British Muslims. Unfettered Islamophobia can lead to violence and murder.

“Every politician enabling this climate of dehumanisation and securitisation of Muslims is accountable for the rise in recent attacks against our children and places of worship.”  

The East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre said there had been extra surveillance and support from the Metropolitan Police for Jewish communities: “We urge the government to similarly treat British Muslims with the same level of care by providing additional support to keep our congregation and members of the public safe.”

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