A Muslim group is scheduled to march Friday through a London street known for its nightlife to protest the sale and drinking of alcohol as a violation of Shariah law.
Members of The Shariah Project, whose website calls alcohol the “mother of evils,” will march on London’s trendy Brick Lane following afternoon prayers, according to International Business Times.
“There’s a lot of problems in the area like anti-social behavior caused by drinking, and a lot of the Muslims are involved in selling alcohol in their shops,” The Shariah Project spokesman Abu Rumaysah told the East London Advertiser. “The one who is not a Muslim is already going to hellfire. The one who drinks or sells alcohol God can forgive if he mends his ways.”
Rumaysah admits he is mentored by Muslim extremist Anjem Choudary, who British Prime Minister David Cameron condemned in 2010, according to The Independent.
“Anjem Choudary is one of those people who needs to be looked at seriously in terms of the legality of what he’s saying because he strays, I think, extremely close to the line of encouraging hatred, extremism and violence,” Cameron said.
Local shop owner Abdul Muhid said he contacted The Shariah Project after being apprised of alcohol abuse in the borough.
“My duty as a Muslim is to convince people of the ills of alcohol,” he told the International Business??? Times. “In the Islamic teaching, drinking and selling alcohol is a sin.”
Whether it is a sin isn’t an issue, moderate Muslims say.
“In Islamic teaching, you shouldn’t drink alcohol, but you can’t impose Islamic law on other people. This is a democracy,” Dr. Usama Hasan of the anti-extremist group Quilliam told the Business Times. “To try to impose Shariah by force, which is their stated aim, is completely stupid and against Islamic teaching.”
The area has seen Shariah-based tensions in the past. According to the International Business Times:
Last week, a judge at the Old Bailey heard that Jordan Horner, 19, Ricardo MacFarlane, 26, and a 23-year-old man who cannot be named for legal reasons had told one couple they could not hold hands while walking down the street because it was a Muslim area. They attacked a group of men drinking on the street and said that a woman would face “hellfire” for the way she was dressed.
The three were sentenced to 68 weeks, 12 months and 24 weeks in prison respectively.
Although Brick Lane is the center of London’s Bangladeshi community, it has since the 1990s developed into one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods and is home to many popular nightclubs.