Letter from Alan Craig in the Sunday Times, 24 April 2011
Both the Tower Hamlets police borough commander and the Quilliam Foundation, the anti-extremist think tank, are wrong to minimise the threats to the Whitechapel pharmacy assistant as just the work of a “small minority” of “Talibanesque thugs” (“Tower Hamlets Taliban order women to cover up“, News, last week). The issue is much more serious than that.
I know the young woman and the pharmacy concerned, which is located in a Muslim-majority residential area under the shadow of the East London Mosque. The intimidation comes from burqa-wearing women, as well as bearded men, who live in the vicinity and come to the pharmacy for their prescriptions. They are normal local residents – the Mr and Mrs Smiths of the neighbourhood – who have made it clear that their part of England is now part of Islam and that the non-Muslim young woman must wear Muslim clothing.
It is especially ominous that the police borough commander should play down the matter. He of all people needs to recognise that this is standard Tower Hamlets Islam doing its normal hardline outreach work. The consequences of this are very distressing for the young woman in the chemist shop. In the long run they are an equally disturbing threat to the liberty of the rest of us.