Plastering stickers around an area is a cheap and easy way to generate publicity, and in London the strategy is particularly associated with various Islamist groups. The appearance of Islamist anti-gay stickers in Whitechapel has garnered some media attention: the stickers show a rainbow with a cross through it, on which is written “gay free zone”. Above the symbol is written “ARISE AND WARN [EMQ 74:2]”, and below is written “AND FEAR ALLAH: VERILY ALLAH IS SEVERE IN PUNISHMENT [EMQ: 59:7]”. No further information is given. “EMQ” refers to a particular translation, called the “English Maariful Quran”.
The stickers were previously spotted in Whitechapel in October [UPDATE: and also in Stoke Newington – H/T to a reader], and before that in Nottingham last summer; the photographer “Tash” noted them on Indymedia here, and the Pink Paper reported that
A complaint of homophobia has been made to Nottingham Police after a group of men were seen putting up anti-Pride posters which read Gay Free Zone in the city centre.
The stickers and posters were put up just before Nottingham’s Pride festival, circa 31 July, and a member of the public has now made an official complaint to police.
One report concerning the new incident has quote from Rainbow Hamlets, an LGBT forum in Tower Hamlets, purporting to have “evidence” that the stickers were “likely” to have created by a group such as the English Defence League; what this evidence might be is mysterious, and the above would appear to rule out the possibility altogether.
The Nottingham police got as far as forwarding “one sticker and one poster to the Crown Prosecution Service to establish whether this material amounts to a criminal offence”; there are no details of any follow-up, although the police in London appear to be taking the matter more seriously: according to the Evening Standard, “Police were examining CCTV and forensic evidence today as they hunted the culprits”.
UPDATE: Apparently cyber-vigilante Charlie Flowers of “NiceOnesUK” and the “Cheerleaders” is claiming to know the name and address of the person responsible the stickers, although no evidence is forthcoming. Doubtless he’s in full self-righteous thrill mode as he harasses some hapless Islamist, whether the right one or the wrong one, and tries to spin his supposed inside information into proof that he’s not someone who also harasses innocent people.
It should be recalled that Flowers and his associates took revenge on a vulnerable adult with mental health problems who had recently joined an extremist group by outing him as gay on an Islamic website, even though this could have led to the man and his partner coming to physical harm.
Flowers is himself not adverse to using stickers to send a message to those he dislikes: the “Cheerleaders” Facebook page used to carry a video of an “anti-extremist” “sticker raid” on the Muslim World League offices in Goodge Street, London.
UPDATE 2: The Islamist named by Flowers is based in east London, and he has a website which includes a post from April 2010 (on the evils of voting) that, like the stickers, begins with the phrase “Arise and Warn [EMQ 74:2]”. While “Arise and Warn” is used as a rhetorical opening on a number of Islamic websites, his is the only one that follows with the distinctive referencing style. This is suggestive – but no more than that.
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