Women who do not wear headscarves are being threatened with violence and even death by Islamic extremists intent on imposing sharia law on parts of Britain, it was claimed today.
Other targets of the 'Talibanesque thugs', being investigated by police in the Tower Hamlets area of London, include homosexuals. Stickers have been plastered on public walls stating: 'Gay free zone. Verily Allah is severe in punishment'.
Troubled: Whitechapel in east London is at the centre of the hate campaign by the 'London Taliban' (file picture)
It is believed Muslim extremists are behind a spate of attacks being investigated by police, according to the Sunday Times.
How they want to see women:
'Talibanesque thugs' have been
threatening women including
non-Muslims with violence for
not wearing a headscarf
An Asian woman who works in a pharmacy in east London was told to dress more modestly and wear a veil or the shop would be boycotted. When she went to the media to talk about the abuse she suffered, a man later entered the pharmacy and told her: 'If you keep doing these things, we are going to kill you'.
The 31-year-old, who is not a practising Muslim, said she has since been told to take holiday by the pharmacy owners and now fears she may lose her job.
She said: 'Why should I wear a hijab (headscarf) or burqa? I haven't done anything wrong.'
Other incidents reported include the placing of stickers across the white-minority borough which state it is a 'gay-free zone' and the daubing of paint on posters for clothing shop H&M featuring women in bikinis. Ghaffar Hussain, of the anti-extremism thin tank the Quilliam Foundation, told The Sunday Times that the intimidation was the work of 'Talibanesque thugs'.
He added: 'This minority think they have the right to impose their fringe interpretation of Islam on others.'
Paul Rickett from the Met Police said: 'I am saddened that there are a small minority of people who do not wish to respect the lifestyle choices of others'. He added that there was nothing to indicate the incidents were linked.
Three men have been charged with religiously-aggravated criminal damage in connection with some of the incidents, which have mirrored crude attempt at censorship in Birmingham.
Borough Commander of Tower Hamlets, Paul Rickett said: 'I am saddened that there are a small minority of people who do not wish to respect the lifestyle choices of others.
'I would like to reassure the people of Tower Hamlets that we are investigating these incidents.
'At this stage there is no information to suggest any of the incidents are linked. Anyone found committing such criminal acts will face criminal proceedings.
Defence: Anjem Choudary said
Muslims would speak out if they
thought women who followed
their faith were not observing
'We work closely with faith leaders in the community, the Tower Hamlets interfaith forum, our partner agencies and the local community to ensure that people feel safe in the borough.' Khalid Mahmood, MP for Birmingham Perry Bar, said he had seen posters vandalised in Birmingham but was not aware of threats being made.
He said: 'I have seen posters defaced in Birmingham and it's just complete nonsense. 'If people choose to follow the religion they should be free to do so and we don't want to go down the route that the French have done, but these people have to accept other people.
'If it's about the freedom to do what you want, others should have the freedom to do what they want to do. 'It's the actions of a very small minority, and in Birmingham we have not seen people threaten women who are not wearing the burqa - it someone were to do that the police should be informed.'
Firebrand Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary said that he was aware of individuals who would speak up if they saw a Muslim woman without a headscarf, but insisted they were only giving advice about their views of Islam. He said no threats would be made and described the allegations of threats of death as 'completely ridiculous'.
He said: 'There are groups who propogate Islam, and if they see a Muslim woman without a hijab they may say "sister, it's obligatory that you cover your hair". 'It's an individual intervention to propagate Islam. For non-Muslims, they may point out to them that women are being exploited in the West.
'It's about telling people about the preference of covering up, but nobody's going to say "you are going to be killed".' Tower Hamlets has a reputation for being a centre of Islamic extremism in London. Recently it was revealed Rich Dart, a middle class former BBC worker had converted to Islam and was living in Bow, east London in a £300,000 flat paid for by benefits.
Muslim convert: Former BBC worker Rich Dart (pictured speaking into a loud hailer) at a rally
Despite being unemployed, Mr Dart regularly attends Muslim rallies in which he was recently heard to say: 'When the Taliban defeat the allies we will establish Sharia law and take the fight to the enemy.'
Before Christmas posters appeared in the borough claiming the religious festival was 'evil'. The campaign's organiser was 27-year-old Abu Rumaysah, who once called for Sharia Law in Britain at a press conference held by hate preacher leader Anjem Choudary, the leader of banned militant group Islam4UK.
Mr Rumaysah said: 'Christmas is a lie and as Muslims it is our duty to attack it. 'But our main attack is on the fruits of Christmas, things like alcohol abuse and promiscuity that increase during Christmas and all the other evils these lead to such as abortion, domestic violence and crime. 'We hope that out campaign will make people realise that Islam is the only way to avoid this and convert.'