Brick Lane mural
Mear One's mural on Hanbury Street has been slammed for its anti-Semitism (Reuters)

A mural in the heart of bohemian east London has caused uproar among local politicians and community leaders who have accused it of being anti-Semitic - in an area with a long Jewish and immigrant history.

But Mear One, the American artist who painted the mural on a wall on Hanbury Street, off Brick Lane, has denied charges of anti-Semitism.

The painting depicts caricatures of wealthy Jewish men playing Monopoly, using the backs of hunched people as their table.

In the background is a pyramid with an eyeball in it - synonymous with the Illuminati conspiracy theory. To one side of the painting, a man holds up a placard that says: "The New World Order is the enemy of humanity."

"I have received a number of complaints that the 'New World Order' mural on Hanbury Street has anti-Semitic images," said Lutfur Rahman, the mayor of the local council, Tower Hamlets.

"I share these concerns. Whether intentional or otherwise the images of the bankers perpetuate anti-Semitic propaganda about conspiratorial Jewish domination of financial and political institutions.

"Where freedom of expression runs the risk of inciting racial hatred, as for example when the EDL attempted to march in Tower Hamlets last year, then it is right that such expression should be curtailed. I have therefore asked my officers to do everything possible to see to it that this mural is removed."

Rev Alan Green, a local dean, also condemned the picture.

"While I appreciate street art in Tower Hamlets, it must always respect the principles of our diverse community," he said.

"This mural uses images that have for centuries been used to incite hatred and persecution against Jewish communities. There is no place for such incitement against any community in this borough."

Underneath a video showing him creating the Hanbury Street mural, Mear One has defended his art.

"My mural is about class and privilege. The banker group is made up of Jewish and white Anglos," he wrote.

"For some reason they are saying I am anti-Semitic. This I am most definitely not.

"I believe in equality and brother- and sisterhood on a global scale. What I am against is class. Ruling class - this is a problem and we need humanisation."

Local Tory councillor Peter Golds urged the police to pursue Mear One under race hate legislation.

"I am horrified at this mural," Golds wrote in a letter to council bosses. "It bears an awful similarity to anti-Semitic propaganda produced in pre-war Germany.

"As well as the anti-Jewish overtones, there is even the quasi-Masonic (and dollar bill) aspect to encourage conspiracy theory.

"What will be done about the person or persons who has produced this and when will it be removed?

"The fact it has appeared over Rosh Hoshanah/Yom Kippur gives added menace."

East London has a significant multicultural community that has often fought against intolerance and racism.

In the 1930s the leader of the British Union of Fascists, Oswald Mosely, was famously stopped in his tracks with his supporters by anti-fascists and the local community of Cable Street in Limehouse when the Blackshirts tried to march through the area.

More recently a demonstration by the English Defence League was refused permission to march in Tower Hamlets and was stopped at the borough's border in Aldgate by police.

Anti-Semitic Brick Lane Mural Controversy Exposes Authoritarian Mindset [BLOG]