The petition, which has been handed into 10 Downing Street and will be passed on to the Queen, requests “city status” to be granted to the London borough when she celebrates her Diamond Jubilee next year.
Described by one senior Labour official as an Islamic Republic, Tower Hamlets has been at the centre of controversy since Lutfur Rahman was elected as Mayor last year.
Lutfur Rahman was deselected by the Labour party as their mayoral candidate when allegations were made about his links to the Islamist group Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), which wants to turn Britain and other European countries into Islamic republics. He won the mayoral election as an independent and now has control over a £1.3 billion budget.
Two weeks after the election, Tower Hamlets Council placed CDs of sermons by an extremist Islamic preacher in its Town Hall. The preacher, Abdur Raheem Green, has stated that “Islam is not compatible with democracy”. The CDs were handed out to council workers and visitors as part of an official council-sanctioned display mounted in the Town Hall reception area.
According to the Daily Telegraph, in just three months between December and February, IFE front bodies, including the East London Mosque and Tower Hamlets Council of Mosques, were given grants totalling at least £149,000 of council money.
Proposals have also been made to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds of municipal money on so-called “hijab gates”, a set of Islamic arches that would look like a veil, at either end of Brick Lane, a prominent street in Tower Hamlets.
According to one of its leaflets, the IFE wants to change the "very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed ... from ignorance to Islam".
One resident told the Daily Mail, “You basically have a large umbrella Islamist group that appears to have almost a stranglehold over a major council in the East End of London.”
At the launch of Tower Hamlets’ application to become a city last week, Mayor Rahman said:
Tower Hamlets has come of age. Our petition is a reflection of the diverse area that we want to showcase to the world, putting the borough at a level with the City of London and the City of Westminster.