October 24, 2008


I had three punctures today on two different bikes. Life is trying to tell me something important? Lets find out.

Before all that I cycled to Whitechapel to buy some dv tapes. You know, I thought- fuck it. Lets take up filming mad Muslims again. See what happens. This time, I am much calmer, much more certain of what I am doing and why I am doing it. Hamza and Atilla was a very painful, obsessive, emotionally draining experience. I've had a lot of time off, during which time I have become very good friends with Musa Ahmet. In five years I've had zero financial success, but I've got to know Musa, so I don't care. Its all been worth it.

A friend of mine asked me to pick up some tailors chalk. I knew a place a little further north of the river. I cycled up brick lane to pick up a breakfast from one of the famous bagel shops. As I cycled off I saw a face I recognized but couldn't put a name to. I sat and thought for a second, then turned round.

"Are you Mousa Brown?"

"Dave Bones!"

The last time I had seen this Mousa he was behind bullet proof glass at Woolwich crown court. It was good to see him as a free man, carrying on with his life. We talked for ages about the court case. I had missed his testimony, but the court reporter who I had become friends with told me he had made a good account of himself.

It sounded like I had missed the most interesting part of the trial.

"I made Farrel look like an idiot. He only asked me one question which actually related to the charge I was on."

He said the Police had suppressed tapes which would clear him, and distorted tapes in places so they appeared to say something else. He said at one point after he was charged a policeman came in to the interview room at Paddington green and said

"Salaam Aleikum! Don't worry, we know you are not a terrorist. I can help you."

He reckoned the whole trial was ridiculous. He was aware of the tensions between Atilla and Hamid from first hand in Belmarsh but didn't believe either were bad people.

"Run a terror organisation? Hamid couldn't run a bath."

He said that in pre trial arrangements The judge had banned them from referring to an expert from the 21/7 trial who had said that what they were talking about was from the Koran. During his testimony he had tried to refer to the guy as someone who could help the jury a couple of times and the judge and prosecution had objected, leading the jury to smell a rat. One time when he dismissed the jury for lunch the judge had held Mousa back.

"I know very well what you are up to. What do you think you are playing at?" he asked.

"I am trying to defend myself." said Mousa.

He said that the Police had released his minibus and his sprinter van almost immediately after he had got out. His wife had declared them off the road for the 18 months he was inside. Within days a tow truck came to pick one of them up as untaxed. He suspected the Police had a hand in this.

"Inside I wouldn't talk to the screws. They suspected me of this and that. I don't hide what I think of people. I got arrested doing what I have always done for twenty years. I pray five times a day. I am a Muslim."

He said he wouldn't want to repeat the experience but he had learned from it.

"I bet you steer clear of Muslim groups now no? Have you been back to Speakers Corner?" I asked.

He said that he had a couple of times.

When I got back home I offered to help a friend down the road to pick up a couple of bags of tiling glue for his floor on our bikes. We cycled along the river. I had puncture number one near the millennium dome. The tube was so old I couldn't get the valve undone so I had to push the bike to B+Q to get some hacksaw blades. My friend carried a spare tube, but it was an ultra thin one for a racer. Luckily with 25kg of floor glue on the handlebars it went not too far from home.

A couple of hours later I borrowed a bike and headed up to east London at the invitation of Abu Waleed. As there is a bit of interest in what I am doing now my tourist camera no longer cuts it, so it is always a scrabble to find friends with professional cameras who are actually interested enough in what I do to lend a hand.

Funnily enough, the person who has always shown the most interest is a girl who is as facially pierced as I am. Obviously with Muslims strict rules of segregation this posses a problem. I had emailed Mr Walled earlier. He told me the room in which they met had a curtain down the middle and she would have to be on the other side.

We arrived to find the London School of Sharreah was under an east London railway arch. There were maybe 12 British Asian guys in their early twenties and through the curtain I think I could see two females in Muslim dress. My camera woman friend set up on the other side.

Abu Waleed talks very fast. He makes a lot of jokes, more than Hamza. He isn't angry like Hamza was some times and Atilla was most of the time in Finsbury park. He is happy to critisize other Muslim scholars by name, and does so a lot. Scholars he respects are Hamza, Bakri who he calls Sheik Omar, Al Faisal, and he also spoke well of a Palestinian sheik who he left his audience to guess. I would assume he is referring to Abu Qatada.

At no point did he remotely glorify terrorism, or encourage his audience in any acts of violence, but he would indulge in a lot of black humour about the situation Muslims find themselves in. I could see why he was charismatic to the group in front of him and how what he said and the way he said it would be relevant to their lives. I was bemused at how often I heard the unmistakable chuckle of my friend with the camera through the curtain. The atmosphere Waleed projects is very relaxed. People would duck out to answer their mobile phones and interupted whenever they liked, mostly to ask him to repeat his justifications from the Koran.

At the end of his talk he thought I was going to ask questions. I had made loads of notes after our phone conversation the other day but hadn't brought them as I knew we would need much more time to go through everything and I was too knackered to attempt questioning at 10 pm on a friday. I asked him to think of a place he would be comfortable to sit down for an afternoon to film properly.

On the way home we stopped in my favourite east end pakistani dinner.

"They believe things I would disagree with but they are OK really as people aren't they?" said my camerawoman.

"I think so. I think we are more extreme than they are" I agreed.

I had puncture number three on the way back.

I will put up some clips of what Abu Waleed had to say on youtube soon as.


I.:.S.:. said...

keep it going

i'd like to come with you but i'm drunk all the time and it goes down badly with these people

I.:.S.:. said...

i don't glorify terrorism either

African neocon said...

Hey Dave!

Yeah!, Mousa Brown has been down to Speakers’ Corner a couple of times during the summer. His first visit was somewhat subdued: he came down in western style clothes, which was quite unusual for MB, as he would always come down in the traditional Muslim garb. We had a civilised running re his trial – I told him that I though he got off lightly: the court found him “not guility” in my view because there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him. I told him that it was due to the complexity of “intelligence not being equated to evidence”. He got really angry and when into what I can view as a sob story of how the State had “fitted him up” and had destroyed his life. He also denied being an extremist either in the Park or outside the Park (with his best buddy Hamid), which some of us found laughable given that we had on several occasions heard his extremist rants. Suffice to say, he did get some sympathy from someone who wants to do a documentary about his experience in Belmarsh and that of Hamid.

DAVE BONES said...

Hey where did your blog go? I wanted to link to another of your pieces from socialistwanker. If you send us text I will put it up.

Mousa said he had seen you but didn't recount the conversation. He said you hardly spoke to him.

I was also interested in making a film with him about the Belmarsh experience itself.

He thinks he was fitted up and he doesn't think Hamid is a terrorist either.

Obviously I have never heard him speak but was Hamid a terr-ist or a bit of a nutter? I'd suspect the later.