May 29, 2004


Well that was a surprise. Last week, I asked Abu Hamza if he had watched my cd. I had been distributing cd’s of what I had so far around some of the guys who were good enough to talk to me at Finsbury Park. I had never given one to Hamza or spoke to him about it. He said he had seen it and thought it was interesting. He understood I was making a documentary about Mr. Abdullah and wished me all the best. I spoke to Mr. Abdullah about my intentions to introduce him to Jamie and Patrick from Idealworld the next week to talk about making a documentary about him. I told him that I would forward the e-mail contact I had had with them. It was sunny and relaxed. There were no big cameras about.

I heard about Hamza’s arrest at around lunchtime on Thursday from various text messages my friends sent me. I got an text from my ex

" How is your bitch tonight motherfucker? "

I called Mr. Abdullah. He seemed surprisingly relaxed.

“ The struggle continues.” He told me. “ If it is ordained for us to suffer in this life then we accept that suffering as Allah wills it.”

I headed to Belmarsh with my camera, following a surreal trail of newsstands advertising Hamza’s arrest. I recognized a lot of photographers from Finsbury Park. One of the biggest photographer’s who I had seen many times in scuffles with the Muslim brothers engaged me in conversation. He had always looked to me to be one of the paparazzi style guys and I had always ignored him. I love to be proved wrong about people.(I hope I'm not wrong about Mr. Abdullah)

He spoke of his time in Nicaragua during the conflicts there, of his exhibitions of Protest photographs during the Thatcher years. He spoke of his amazing theories that the 9 spheres of the kabbalah tied into the most advanced theories of quantum physics. A man who I had wrongly judged a media hack turned into an amazing human being before my eyes. He was a secular jew who seemed to have read all the religious texts. His website is

A really tall guy who turned out to be from Panorama turned up. We recognised each other from Finsbury Park. I spoke to him about what I had been doing.

“ Excellent access “ he told me.

“ You’ll be putting people out of a job! “ said his friend.

“ I just want to put myself in one. “ I answered.

He was really encouraging and said that if I didn’t have any joy with channel 4 I should approach the BBC. It was a long wait. He spoke sarcastically about The Sun’s apparent prior knowledge of unfolding events. His friend also spoke of an anarchy party he had held for the Queens jubilee. A lot of people seemed to be quietly angry that Hamza was not being tried under the British justice system.

During a five minute recess in the proceedings a large blonde woman came out of court and held an impromptu press conference. She claimed to have been attacked by Abu Hamza and his “bouncer” and to have been assaulted by the police who had arrested her. She said Hamza had called her a “ white bitch “

At this point I recognized her. Two weeks previously she had launched herself, screaming at Hamza as he finished preaching. Police intervened within seconds and formed a cordon between press and islamists. They pulled her round the corner. As I left I spoke to them.

“ You’re not going to arrest her are you? “ I asked.

“ No.“ they answered. They were just warning her not to do it again.

Later on in the day she came out of court again (I think she was thrown out.) She started sunbathing topless on the grass in front of the magistrate’s court. Then she stood up and turned sunbathing into a topless protest with 2 pieces of paper covering her rather large assets. The police eventually arrested her and drove her away. They probably let her out a few miles down the road.

After a long wait press came out with mobile phones to their ears. Muslims came out in a long fast walking line, Mr. Abdullah in the middle. I pegged it off after him hoping my faulty camera was running.

“ No comment today. “ he told me.

Talking to Mr. Abdullah is frustrating sometimes. I didn’t want a bloody press conference I wanted him to tell me how he was feeling.

The next morning I got up and bought all the papers. The kangaroo court had finally been replaced with a real one. The fun was over. As I read the charges I again began to wonder what the fuck I had been doing. Jamie phoned me in the morning and we arranged to meet in Finsbury Park. I was there at 12 to watch the press setting up. I sat and meditated for a while on the pavement. An Irish lady came past. She didn’t agree with Hamza or his teachings but she had been a regular in Finsbury Park more often than I, all the older muslims knew her well. She said it was right that he had been arrested but also said that she had shook his hand once and had a nice conversation with him.

“You shook the hook?“ I asked incredulously.

A few of the younger Muslims came past one said to me

“ You are happy now? This is the biggest opportunity of your life.” He was really angry.

In a year and a half in a kangaroo court playing the court jester I have always tried not to behave like a vulture. I searched my soul.

Others came past and told me that no one would be there today.

Patrick couldn’t make it, but Jamie and another guy called Simon came down. For a long while I thought there would be no muslims to introduce them to on their first visit.I'm not a muslim, but as Finsbury Parks muslim community trickled in, to level in number with the media and police I couldn't help but feel that with their leader facing 100 years and narrowly avoiding the death sentence they were very brave. I was shocked how much of a gap Hamza had left. It was like there was a fucking hole in the floor.

They had drafted a guy in to preach who I had never seen before. I thought that Mr. Abdullah would now take centre stage. I should have known him better. He said a few words at the beginning, but left the preaching to someone else. Since I had given him a video with him preaching on it he seemed to have stopped preaching.
Christine Phillips from BBC London called me up. She had filmed our eviction (see POLICE AND BALLIFS IN HIGHGATE) and we had spoken days previously about the Stanstead eco-activists campaign. She said she knew people at the BBC who would be interested in my stuff. At their meetings they had been speaking about how they had really wanted to get under the skin of the story.

“ If these T.V. types start pissing you around come to us.“ she said.“ It sounds like you’ve worked bloody hard on all this.“

“I’m shitting myself.“ I confided in her.

“You’ll be fine.“ she told me.

I spoke to Simon about what sort of deal Idealworld might offer.

“ £3,500 flat fee. And you would direct. Further up the scale is a 150 grand budget but you wouldn’t be able to direct it.” He told me.

No idea if that is good, but these are nice people. I thought.

To be payed to do what you enjoy is a great thing, after a years work it’s not really about the money now.

“ You’re documentary is going to be the best thing ever. “ a journalist I didn’t recognize told me. “ I’ve seen you work.” He told me he was from Albania.

I spoke to Mr. Abdullah at the end, and asked him if we could make a documentary about him. He repeated what Hamza had said a few weeks previously about only doing live interviews. I told him that I couldn’t make a documentary with live interviews.

“ You’re personality will put a whole different slant on the story, Mr.Abdullah.”

He started saying about how a Muslims personality wasn’t important. Jesus! How do you make a documentary about someone who doesn’t want to be centre stage? Simon came up with the camera, I had a radio mike pinned to me. It was hard to explain to Mr. Abdullah what sort of thing we were after. I had hoped that Patrick was going to turn up and say something. It felt weird to be there without my little camera. It seemed obvious that I wouldn’t be able to bring a stranger with a camera in at this point. Jesus, if they had only turned up a couple of weeks previously.

Without Hamza as a central focus camera crews went everywhere. We went for breakfast and I did a piece to camera with Jamie. Simon gave me some basic camera training. He also pointed out that the image stabalizer on my camera had been switched off for a whole year. Fuck. I spoke of my intentions to try and visit Hamza in prison and that I would e-mail Mr. Abdullah. When I got home I called Max Clifford’s agency to see if they were still representing the guys who had come out of guantanamo bay. I’m also trying to get hold of the Algerian guy who filmed undercover for the police in the mosque. If I ever get this documentary made I’m going to go round the world making a really detailed, chilled out film about how cannabis is grown, prepared and smoked in sunny places.

I watched the channel 4 news. Fantastic article. They reported what the guys said. It was good to see Mr. Abdullah's kissing America's backside comment. I read Jon Snows Snowmail, also fantastic. The papers have really freaked me out to be honest. I want to run away. I agree with the Daily Mail though, and Mr. Richard Littlejohn. Hamza should be tried in this country. What's going to happen to Hamza now? Well they wont extradite him will they? Britain never extradites. We didn't extradite Pinochet did we?

May 14, 2004


Two friends of mine managed to turn up in the background of a TV program called Born Sloppy out of their heads on ketamine. I thought about making this pursuit a competition for a website called "On drugs on TV", getting people to send in clips of themselves out of their heads infiltrating TV programs. In truth I had given up all drugs by that point for about 2 months. Giving up dope was a hell of a struggle. All my painting, computer artwork and music seemed to come from the herb. Being straight made reality quake all over the place. I went to the doctor and he prescribed me an anti depressant called cipralex, A Serotonin Reuptake inhibitor or SSRI.

I watched the BAFTA awards. At the end Saul Gantz got up and made a mind-blowing speech. America had been temporarily taken over. We shall overcome - and we will. All the audience, including people like Martin Scorsese, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones rose to applaud. For a week or so I became obsessed with the idea that there was going to be a celebrity led peaceful revolution. I remember I was feverishly waiting for it but it never happened. I watched news of how the British Soldiers were campaigning for hearts and minds in Iraq. British politeness seemed to be exporting well. I hoped they were there to return Iraq to the Iraqi's, but with the corporate Bechtell in the middle things looked dubious.

The Stop the War campaign was having a national meeting in Hammersmith. The Stonehenge festival was on the same day. Someone suggested that I bring my film down to show in the interval. I phoned up and this was confirmed. I brought a copy of my film down to the Stop the War HQ in Britannia st. One of the volunteers loaded it on a computer and a few other volunteers came over to watch. A woman came over who I had seen making speeches. I remembered she had a foghorn of a voice and could see how she had become a leader. My dislike of speechmakers made my back go up. She started complaining

" This is an office you know, not a cinema. "

Whatever, I thought.

I left the CD with the volunteer. I was about to leave when they all congregated round a video. George Galloway had prerecorded an interview for channel 4 news denying Saddam Hussein had rewarded him financially. They all watched adoringly and came away pleased with their hero's efforts.

" So why did he say to Saddam Hussein " I salute your indefatigability? " " I asked. No one answered.

" And why is he using a word like in-de-fat-ig-a-ble (I counted the syllables on my fingers) with someone who doesn't speak English? "

John Rees, Andrew Murray, Mrs. Fog horn, the glittering courageous wafflers of the biggest dissident movement this century, and associated volunteers all stood there with nothing to say. I had to ask. The question had been burning in me since I had seen Galloway’s meeting with Saddam Hussein on TV.

" And what does indefatigable mean? "

One of the volunteers actually chimed in with the same question. No one knew the answer.

" I think I'm going to ask him. On camera." I said. I genuinely wanted to know the answer. They drifted away.

Needless to say when I turned up at the meeting my film had been pulled and everyone ignored me. 600 people from all over the UK missed the chance to see what kids had actually done, on their own in Parliament Square. I had missed Stonehenge for this. In one of the side meetings I got a chance to speak.

" 2 million people marching to listen to speeches in Hyde Park, yet when war breaks out, who in London tries to stop it? Just children. It seems to me that if any of us are serious about stopping wars rather than just talking about it you actually have to do it. " (I was holding up a still from my film of a kid being lifted from the street by the neck by a policeman.)

" Unfortunately this is how you do it. This kid is Gandhi."

I told them my Ken Livingstone story during which I was told off for swearing and showed them all my roached Mayor of London card. No one took any notice. Worse still I felt like one of those fucking speechmakers I despised. Galloway was top of the bill. It was like a fucking Galloway fan club meeting. One old guy was actually stamping his feet and clapping at the same time. " Good old George! " he shouted. I didn't have my camera and didn't really care. The room seemed full of people who like to talk and go to meetings. I stood at the back, arms folded. Furious.


After a year filming the bizarre battles between Abu Hamza and the Fundamental Islamists and the world’s media in Finsbury Park I feel it’s about time to give up. I don't even know what I think any more. The whole thing is going nowhere, I've got media, terrorism and Islam spinning round and round in my head with no respite and no focus. At first I thought I was doing something really important, then it was just fun but now its got obsessive. Considering the subject matter it’s interesting that at no point has it been scary. At all.

Sometimes it’s been comical, I've been trying to find the funny side, but then something like the Madrid bombing happens which makes me question everything I am doing. Now alleged terrorists have been arrested in Britain. Maybe I shouldn't have given up smoking dope. How did I get here? In a life coloured with demonstrations, international trance parties and the London squat scene I was not the likeliest candidate to end up spending so many Fridays with Fundamental Islamists. Some of this story is in the wrong order, some names have been told me and forgotten but as far as I know this is a true story, most of which I have on film.

If George Bush hadn't declared war on Iraq I probably wouldn't have started filmmaking. In the long build up to the war I was stoned most of the time. As the war was looking more and more inevitable I knew I was likely to be laid out stoned glued to the TV as the media went into hyper drive. I decided to combat this by documenting as much as possible what I thought was important where I live, in London, and making sure I enjoyed it instead of being sucked under by powerlessness. A video activist friend of mine had texted me about a bunch of school kids trying to storm Downing Street on their own.

Vaguely in the back of my mind I thought to myself, Yeah, that'd be right. I bet when this eventually kicks off the only people who will seriously have a go at stopping it will be kids. A few days later there was a knock on my girlfriends door. Two researchers from the channel 5 breakfast T.V. show RI:SE TV told me that the program had just moved into the area and they were going round inviting their neighbors to the pub for a drink. That ended up with me on television, stoned out of my head at 6 am out in the cold on Queensway W2 with a big picture of Osama Bin Laden with flowers round him saying

" Bring the War to the floor use biodiesel!"

I think the irony of casting Bin Laden as an eco protester disappeared into most people’s cereal bowls. RI:SE at the time was most famous for having pitiful ratings, but I had a good time and got my first irrational taste for telly. " He's got tusks in his ears! " said Edith, the presenter as they transferred back to the studio. I had wanted to be a spin-doctor ever since I saw how Peter Mandelson had successfully spun the concept of New Labour through the media tool into the public consciousness. Could this be done the same way spinning a spiritually edifying solution for social change?

I marvelled how much money people like Sattchi and Sattchi made presenting a media image of a political ideal and wanted to commandeer some of that airtime to spin stuff into public consciousness for free. Was it all totally controlled by the powers that be? I was a bit bored with the " it's all a police state " attitude of underground media makers in the UK. Maybe their stuff didn't get on TV because it was crap. I intended to find out for myself, keep a totally open mind, and above all, to enjoy the process.

Vicky, A hippie friend of mine who lived in a bender a spit away from Glastonbury festival's stone circle had come up with the idea of a campaign called

Bio diesel Not Bombs!

We wanted to convince the world to turn away from petrol addiction and use vegetable oil to power their transport. Could you bankrupt George Bush like this if it caught on? I still don't have a clue but it sounded good at the time and apparently burning vegetable oil for fuel was CO2 efficient. (The plant absorbs the same amount of carbon dioxide as it grows that you release when you burn it) We went to a Socialist Alliance meeting and posed the question to the panel of distinguished speakers.

The panel of distinguished speakers not knowing the answer completely ignored the question until Seth, a good friend of mine stood up (I think he's 6 foot 4) and reminded them in quite heated terms that a question had been asked. Someone acting as security told Seth to sit down. Seth asked him if he wanted to see some direct action. The guy moved away. I was prepared to leave it but it was quite funny seeing Seth take the whole room on.

" The time for sitting around talking is well past! " he shouted.

" Sit down!" they all shouted back.

The speakers sat and fidgeted nervously then carried on as if nothing had happened. This was my first experience of leftist political meetings. I agreed with everything being said but found sitting in a room listening to endless things I agreed with unfulfilling. Nothing changed. No bolt of lightning hit me. It surprised me how self-important and politician like these people were considering that they had no power whatsoever. I thought that without the drug of actual power these guys would at least be able to say

" I don't know. "

But it seemed they couldn't. It wasn't as if we were trying to hijack their little meeting, I genuinely wanted to know what they thought. At the huge rally in Hyde Park the picture turned into a placard. Out of two million I think I was the only one holding up a picture of Bin Laden. It was quite a head turner. I think the biodeisel reference was beyond most people a lot of who were offended by the picture. I remember trying to storm the stage to try and convince everyone that it was no good opposing war if you were going to continue putting George Bush's petrol in your car.

"Sell your petrol engined car buy a Diesel and use biodeisel!"

I thought I was a visionary who would convince the freethinking world to bankrupt George Bush from the petrol pump. All the stewards behind the stage thought I was crazy. They thought that what they were doing was very important. I've always been alive to the psychology of demonstrations but I'm not sure why I've always felt such intense hatred of stages and speechmakers.

I remember feeling that the only thing worse than George Bush and Tony Blair dragging us all to war was the fact that I probably could not avoid at some stage having to listen to the other George and Tony show. (Galloway and Benn) At least Blair and Bush were funny. I was worried that two million people listening to things they agreed with wasn't going to stop a war unless it turned into some sort of action.

There was a run-stop battle with riot police on Oxford st. and someone was arrested for trying to burn an American flag even though the thing wouldn't light. Vicky had come up from Glastonbury for the demo. Before she left, she whispered the password of the biodeiselnotbombs web address she had set up for our campaign. I promptly forgot it. I wasn't to know that would be the last time I would see Vicky alive. She died suddenly that summer of liver failure.

She was an archetypal British protester of the old school, living in a bender, more love and poetry than money, allied to no group or political party, taking on the system with hastily prepared art and flowers. When I first met her she was a tough lesbian who would make you feel guilty about being male over coffee at breakfast time. God knows what she would think of my now regular meetings with Fundamental Islamists.

Maybe the tactic of boring people into a war worked. Television and parliament quite successfully talked it all to death. I watched most of it. When War finally was agreed on the most notable thing to happen outside Parliament was a group of kids getting themselves on TV hitting Peter Mandelson with protest signs. I thought it pretty funny that although the stop the war movement put out a leaflet


encouraging everyone to stop the country the day the war started, no one over the age of 16 actually bothered to do this in London. Certainly not those who printed the leaflet anyway. I don't think the kids noticed though. They just got on with it. I arrived in Parliament square the next morning to find a small group of kids half my height in blazers lying in the street.

" Come on " said a policeman " Your not going to stop a war like this "

" Oh yes we are " came the answer.

I got the feeling London kids would be hardcore but I never imagined that they would have the resolve to fight for and hold parliament square two days running. On their own. It was classic non-violent direct action, so perfectly disorganized and self organized at the same time. The result of different groups of kids making separate plans in playgrounds and communicating through the Internet exploded in all directions onto the street. Without a camera myself, I looked for video activists to try and work with. Groups of friends headed off in all directions managing to split up the police. Swelled by numbers the kids shut down the square to traffic section by section. I bumped into some of those who I had seen the day before hitting Peter Mandelson. They were in the frontline again, sitting down on the north side of the square.

I tried to interview them about the Mandelson stunt but they were steam rollered by police. I couldn't believe how determined they were, Police eventually resorting to lifting them off the road using pressure points in the throat. As usual in post Thatcher Britain most of the police were O.K. I wouldn't blame those who weren't for the violence some kids reported as much as the jokers who had incited them to be there, only to let them down when it came to it. There was a word for that sort of behavior in my playground. There were no reclaim the streets style crusties there; there were no socialist workers there, no anarchists, hardly anyone over the age of 16.

I had been pretty cynical and jaded by protest over the years. I had become bored rigid by the violence and was glad it had more or less died out, at least in London. I was pleased London was not Genoa or Seattle or Prague. Suddenly I found myself in the middle of the most inspiring protest I have ever been on in my life, organized and executed without drugs, or political organization by London children.

With the ridiculously unseasonable sun shinning down on them, the exuberant action of kids washed away the empty words I had heard from the stage the previous weekend. It was as if the spirit of Gandhi mixed with the personality of Johnny Rotten had possessed every school kid in London. I felt sorry for the police and tried to keep everything good humored. I remember calling the RI:SE researchers begging them to get these kids on the show. Surely kids with something to say would be more interesting than endless bland celebrity wannabees, and who knows? Controversy might turn around their piss poor ratings!

Again I got the feeling that these people thought I was crazy. Luckily I met up with a few people there with cameras so we got a chance to film and interview the kids. I didn't sit down with the kids myself. I didn't think I would achieve anything by being arrested and it felt like it was their protest. Police were O.K. with me, and I understood it wasn't their war.
I was fascinated to find out what the kids, all of who must have been first time demonstrators could achieve and learn for themselves.

Most protests I have been on in the past I took acid or at least was drunk. It was great to be sober, with reality in the sunshine. Two million in Hyde Park listening to speeches did nothing to stop war. I wondered what two million sitting next to the kids in Parliament Square would have done? Maybe Blair was right and it was more complicated than being pro or anti war. For the kids it wasn't complicated. As bombs dropped on Baghdad, they woke up in the morning and set out to stop the country.

I found out later that kids from the small suburban village in which I grew up in Dorset did the same. This happened nationwide and worldwide and became for me the most important phenomena of this unfolding War. I asked a lot of them if they wanted the voting age lowered. As parliament debates lowering the voting age to 16, could this make a difference? or could MacDonald’s buy up all the votes in the playground with free happy meals?


A few days later David Blunkett obviously conscious of media pressure issued a timely law designed to get rid of Abu Hamza. As war fever gripped us all we got a timely reminder of the enemy within. I had been following the story the same way as everyone else. From the front page of The Sun and the scuffles on the early evening news. With hooks as hand and a glass eye Hamza made a great bad guy. I typed his name into google and saw the infamous " Looting and shooting " speech he had made from inside the mosque on He was also saying something like

" If a kaffir (godless person) is caught in a Moslem land and you can’t sell him as a slave in the market place then you kill him."

I had been called a kafir in Pakistan. I had been called " kaffir, infidel, heretic " but mostly a word I had never heard before " Malung. " Everywhere I went it was " malung, malung, malung. " Sometimes with hatred, mostly with surprise,

" You are malung? "

" Err. Yes. What’s a malung?"

A few people even shook my hand. In Pakistan if you dress the way everyone else does you are greeted really warmly. The guest is god. I met westerners with beards dressed in the native shalwar kamieze who literally paid for nothing and went from house to house as warmly invited guests. If you have 3 inch bones through your ears and a ring through your nose you are called a "malung " which was variously described to me as someone who was dirty, laughs and smoked dope all day and had no god. Muslims everywhere hated me. After having to resist being forcibly dragged off with the mullah by an angry crowd on my first day in Peshawar I realized that if I conformed it would all be different. I tried on a shalwar kamieze. I hadn't worn a smart collar since my schooldays and I just couldn't get the hang of it.

It certainly gave me a sense of identity going round Pakistan as a malung. It was worth it just for the expressions on people’s faces. I thought I was doing my moral duty fazing their heads. Eventually I took refuge with a pagan tribe right up on the Afghan border that as luck would have it were just starting their annual fertility festival. I got the idea that in the UK things would be different, as I had lived in a Muslim community in Birmingham with no problem. I knew there would be a whole load of Muslims totally used to British culture and expressing themselves within it and looked forward to trying to engage with them, and whatever reaction the way I looked provoked.

Abu Hamza and Finsbury Park were quite close so I thought I would go down without a camera to check out the story for myself. Sure enough there were lots of serious TV cameras, and eventually some Muslims, a few whom were masked gathered. A big, angry looking guy, started preaching. He had been one of the first to arrive and stood out from the others because of his size and beard. He seemed like a classic image of what you would think Fundamental Islam to be. An angry man with a beard preaching against the west. But he wasn't Abu Hamza. He was younger, white and had a London accent.

While he was preaching Abu Hamza arrived photographers swarming around him like he is a rock star. A microphone was pinned on him, the sun shinned on him. He was totally confident and seemed to relish being badass No. 1. He started to preach. He spoke first in Arabic, making media people and I fidget. Then he spoke in English. All his words are against Bush, Blair and Saddam.He angrily accused them of hypocrisy in their dealings with Palestine and Israel and attributed the invasion of Iraq to the business as usual attitude of a tiny minority of American Oil men. He believes that most Arab nations are ruled by apostates who sell their countries wealth to the west whilst the poor starve. I wondered how many British citizens would actually agree with this.

He said that he did not fear deportation because the whole planet belongs to Allah and Allah does not recognise borders. He praises the work of peacemakers who are not Islamic. As he finished preaching every Muslim faced east to pray whilst the gathered media bunched up at the front of the barriers ready to pounce. Muslims surrounded Hamza; the biggest guy who was preaching earlier stuck right beside him. He seemed like a bouncer. I wondered if Abu Hamza had known him from his reported days as a bouncer. T.V. cameras, pundits and journalists swooped and the Muslims literally pushed their way through, pulling leads from cameras and blocking lenses. The police wisely stood back and let them all get on with it. Very little was said. Someone asked a question, I overheard Hamza's answer " Lies and more lies " scary looking Islamists with masks entangled themselves with camera people. Eventually Hamza and the bouncer character were able to walk away freely down the road. No police, no secret looking MI-5 people hiding in trees, just the two guys walking off into the sunshine.

I wondered to myself what on earth I would do the next week, what questions I might try to ask Hamza and how I would get an opportunity to do so. I had really enjoyed interviewing the kids in Parliament Square and was well up for my first media scrum. Being anti war certainly didn't make me pro-Hamza. He had not caught the sympathy of the protest movement and few Muslims seemed to have a good word to say about him. When I called the Muslim Association of Great Britain they wouldn't speak to me about Hamza. They called me a sensationalist, and seemed convinced I was working for the Sun. I was fascinated by the theatrical nature of the interplay between Muslims and media and there was something laughably British about the way the police refereed.

I had no idea what was going on really but thought if I was really intending to have fun during this war, joining in the game these strangers chose to play with each other seemed like the best course of action. The Government and the press vs. the mosque in the street seemed like a unique opportunity. I decided straight away that I didn't want to bust in on these guys place of worship any more than I would bust in with a camera and a pile of questions to any mosque or church. I would only disturb their gathering if big cameras were already doing so or if I was invited. Yet this was not only a mosque. Theatrically it was tense, spontaneous high drama every bit as fascinating as the kids protest at the start of the war for totally different reasons. The staring character was a cartoon character cartooned beyond cartoonism. And he was real. God and everybody’s concept of God was involved.

The last time I had got involved in any religious ceremony was in India where I experimented with desert Hinduism in Rhajistan. I was also experimenting with a drug called ketamine which Indian chemists do good business selling to British malungs. For me this seemed to amplify the god consciousness of it all. There are strains of conservative Hinduism amongst middle class families in India and the west, but in the desert celebration is much more frantic. No one minded my sniffing of powders or my staggering dancing, a few babas (holy men) joined in with both. In the UK in the mid nineties like most people my age I had got turned on to dance music and the drugs which went with it like it was a religion. There was no doubt about it, being out of my face made me feel closer to god and my fellow man. Crossing the border into Pakistan sobered me up abruptly. Everywhere I went people asked the same questions. It became like a ritual.

" What is this? " they would ask pointing at my nose ring.

" Gold! " I would answer.

" But what is this?" they would say worriedly, their hand going to their ear.

" Bone! " I would say triumphantly.

" But what is this? " they would say pointing at my neck.

" Seeds!"- I had a necklace made out of rodrugs (Shiva seeds)

" And what is this?" their hands going to their wrists.

" Copper!" I had heavy copper bracelets on.

" But what does it all mean? " they would say.

" Jewelry!" I would answer.

The question of religion always came up. People would ask if I was a Muslim, then if I was a Christian. If I answered in the negative to both they would invariably get angry. Not having a god made me the enemy of god and to be the enemy of god was a very big deal. Yet deep in the smugglers bazaar of Peshawar I found Muslims smoking the best hashish I have ever found, and using it as an aid to worship. I got high with them and was warmly welcome to sit while they prayed facing a wall covered with beautiful Islamic writing. A withered old guy turned to me

" So what do you think of these poor unfortunate souls who have no god?" he asked me in perfect Queens English.

" Terrible.." I said as the blood rushed to my head and my ears started to zing.

At the only protest mosque in British history I wondered if I would get the same reaction I got in Pakistan? How would a malung be treated at Finsbury Park mosque? I didn't think it a good idea to turn up with any ketamine as this form of worship required you to sit still in one place and there was definitely no dancing. The first time I ever noticed Finsbury Park mosque was 10 years ago. I was stuck in traffic on a motorbike, I heard the call to prayer looked up and saw the now infamous building. I looked round to see a fat English guy in a string vest lean out of his window and shout

" Shaaad aaap!!"

I laughed at this wonderful picture of Britain. I bet this guy did this every Friday and loved doing it. I would never have dreamt of going into the mosque whilst it was opened, but with its occupants taking to the street in protest I was fascinated to at least have a go at documenting what these people really believed about the world we live in. Knowing it would be coloured so much by the way I looked made me feel like I was bound to a chaos element which would provoke a reflection of a totally different type of Britain for whatever shaky camera I could find to record on. I wanted to go into the news business.

That weekend there was another big London protest, ending in another round of speeches in Hyde Park. This time I managed to slip through backstage and watched Ken Livingstone telling everyone how much he supported the kid’s action. I stopped him as he came off backstage and told him how worried I was for the kids as they were completely on their own, taking on the police. Would he be able to go down there, as he supported them? He sort of took huge steps away from me. He didn't actually run, just moved quickly, leaving me with someone who gave me a card with Mayor of London written on it. I roached it for a spliff later.

The unseasonable sun continued as war fever gripped us all through the T.V. The next Friday, I managed to convince a veteran protest journalist in his fifties called J. to join me at Finsbury Park. Even though he had been close filming in riots for 30 years he was terrified and thought he was surrounded by terrorists. I thought we were surrounded by local Finsbury Park Muslims wearing masks as a fashion statement. I thought to myself that if I managed to talk to the big guy and make clear that I was separate to the gathered journalists and camera people, I might get a chance to talk to Abu Hamza, although I still had no idea what to ask him. If I was going to approach the big guy with a camera I thought I had better do so very, very carefully.

Pretty soon he arrived and we approached him camera rolling before I could loose my nerve. I told him how we had previously filmed the kid’s protest in Parliament Square. Considering how I had seen him preach the week before I was surprised to find the guy, whose name was Abu Abdullah very approachable. He told me of his belief that Freemasons and Zionists run the world. He also told me that he believed George Bush, Ronald Regan and Donald Runsfeld sacrificed children to a 40 foot owl god in a place called Bohemian Grove in the U.S.A. He said he believed that the people who run the world would have to eradicate Islam because Islamists would not submit to man made laws.

" Many people are ignorant about what’s happening in Chechnya right now, pregnant women’s stomachs are being opened up by Russian soldiers and the contents is being thrown across the floor. Young children are being raped by gangs of Russian soldiers. "

He believed the September 11th attacks to be the work of the C.I.A and Mossad. It was a small price to pay to take over the world. He denied that Muslims were a threat to the British people and said that the killing of innocents was totally against Islamic law. I felt that we had quite a polite British conversation. I was surprised that he had a lot of faith in the theories of David Ike. My activist friend was pleased with my efforts.

" Excellent you've got us right in the middle of everything, the trouble is you've got me in the middle of all this as well. There's BBC and ITV and everyone down here and I haven't got my mask..."

" Yeah you know The Sun and all that try to portray these people.... " I tried to answer.

" Yeah, but I haven't got my don't understand...I'm serious, If I'm going to be on national T.V. I've got to have my mask on "

" Don't worry about your mask. "

" You don't understand I'm a super-hero..."

As Mr. Abdullah preached, still sounding scary as anything, I looked at him in a different light. As a British fundamental Islamist he was a bit of an enigma. I was really glad we spoke; it was worth it to get my stereotyping faculties blown for a bit. He was deadly serious, but didn't seem dangerous or hateful and this was apparently supposed to be an international terrorists second in command. He preached against Homosexuality, Bart Simpson and people walking around naked. He raged against George Bush and those Freemasons who sacrifice to an owl god in Bohemian Grove. As the war was on, and war fever gripped me it felt great to be there hearing this Blair and Bush slamming from the streets.

" Cow-lin Powell? It’s Colin Powell! He can't even read his own name. " He ranted.

I suppose I could have confronted him with the things I disagreed with Islam about and had a much shorter conversation. With war on, I thought it really important to try and reach across the divide between our cultures and strangely enough British politeness seemed to be the bridge. While I fully accepted that most British people probably thought Abu Hamza had overstepped the mark of freedom of speech, it dawned on me that outside Finsbury Park mosque had actually become the border of free speech in this country. I had no idea who was right or wrong, but for the first time in years, all this was giving me the feeling that I was bemusedly proud of being British. I looked around me at this strange scene. I wondered which other country in the world this would be allowed to happen in.

As a person more used to talking to people over loud trance music, talking to Mr. Abdullah, Abu Hamza's apparent second in command in his mosque was one of the strangest things I have ever done in my life. He seemed like an eccentric Londoner, not someone who would be involved in terrorist outrages or someone who would associate with anyone who was. Again, Hamza arrived while he was preaching, looking quite cool for a Fundamental Islamist in his sunglasses. He looked like he thought he was a rock star. As he preached, he gave his run down on the war so far, paying special attention to how the media people in Iraq had been shelled, he believed, to control the story.

He said ordinary people were fighting for the benefit of multinationals whist the rich elite hid in bunkers. He said it was the duty of Muslims to sacrifice, and that they would be called to account for this by God. He said that being anti Zionist was not anti Jewish and that Zionists were just a rich elite who’s only concern was money. As he preached I bit my fingernails wondering what question to ask in the inevitable scrum that would follow. With war on, the atmosphere was really tense. Muslims prayed, media surged forward this time with J. and I, worriedly discussing tactics.

" Don't forget. Be polite.." J. Said nervously. Masked Muslims surrounded Hamza.

" Shall we hang back? " I asked.

" But I got to stick with you, his bouncer is your friend..remember that.."

The media pounced like the beast with many heads from the revelations. I was in the middle of it feeling like a rebellious head. The BBC asked if he was appealing against Blunketts decision. His Muslim friends fought them all off. A short angry guy seemed to be in charge of media relations and was manoeuvring them all onward as cameramen tried to get a clear shot. I pushed in and asked whether he had a message for the mass of British kids who had protested the war.

“ They are great - they should be ruling the country.”

I'd lost J. and swore because I didn't think he had it on camera. I made a fuss as if having a go at J. but I was just trying to locate him. The masked Muslims had heard my question and the same guy who tried to push J. out made way for us. Hamza continued...

" Everybody… even Bin Laden is encouraged. They became the source of security in this country, rather than this billions of pounds spent on MI5 and Scotland Yard because once Muslims and Islamists see the children… the people of this country opposing the war, trying to save their blood, this is what we want. We want to live together. I think they should be ruling the country."

I asked if he thought poor Muslim children of the east would become more militant as a result of this war. He said

“ I think everyone, even women will become militant, can you see women who have lost their children see the aggressors who killed their child? Even women will become martyrdom.”

There was loads of jostling and professional media questions. Then I asked him if he was a threat to Britain. I think he said

“ I’ve been here 25 years and I’ve never threatened anyone. “

The Muslims went beyond a barrier and told the media people to stay back. I spoke a bit longer to Mr Abdullah who told me of a website, where he said it was reported that 8 million Christians recognised that the American government belonged to the occult. I felt pretty good about what we had on camera. In the back of my mind I was worried that maybe I might be just giving easy questions to a terrorist. The kids certainly didn't need his support, yet at the time with war raging I couldn't agree more with his answer. Seeing the ineffectualness of the British protest movement in stopping wars, and the way the British government chose to run them I felt like I wouldn't trust anyone over the age of 16 to run anything. Hamza seemed very arrogant and I remembered his kaffir killing comments from the Internet. If I hadn't got such an honest vibe from Mr. Abdullah I wouldn't have gone back. Overall I had no idea what was going on but I had fun.

I went to a Stop the War meeting In Belsize Park the day Saddam's statue came down. Someone got up and said that everyone should be celebrating. I pretty much agreed but was the only one to clap. One of the school protests organizers was there; I asked her if she thought Tony Blair’s citizenship lessons had backfired on him and whether their action was a campaign for a lowering of the voting age. She thought Tony Blair should be doing a humanities G.C.S.E.

The next Friday Hamza was preaching about Jesus in the temple turning over the tables of the money lenders. I asked him about usury and whether his message was anti-capitalist.

" Its not anti-capitalist its anti wrong. You shouldn't earn your money from immoral means. "

Gillian Joseph from BBC London was there; looking even more gorgeous than she does on T.V. she asked him if he was appealing his conviction. The short guy shouted

" No Comment..." he was good at this and deflected further questions as they all did a runner.


The next week I couldn't convince J. to come down. Asif Hanif had become the first British suicide bomber in Israel and I knew Finsbury Park would be hot.

" They are all terrorists.. My cause is environmental. Tuvalu is disappearing into the sea and you want me to film a bunch of terrorists.,” said J over the phone.
He could not be swayed. The idea of money entered my head.

" Maybe we could earn money from this..?"

At this he got angry. I knew he had been a good professional journalist many years previously in New Zealand.

" I don't want money!..I don't want to be your employee! You want money? " He put the phone down.

I was in finsbury Park with no camera. Ah well, I suppose I will just have to watch what happens again. My mobile rang, it was the BBC.

“ I hear you get to speak to Abu Hamza “

“eer..Well..” the idea of a second mainstream media infiltration was suddenly on the cards. How had they got my number? It must have been J.

" Would you film for us? "

" Err..."

“ We’ll have a camera crew there in 10 minutes.”

Another TV station phoned. Channel 5 I think.

“ Would you like to film for us? “

“ Err.. Well I’m filming for the BBC but they haven’t offered me any money?”

“ Oh well we’ll get our stuff from ITN.”

I bumped into Colin Baker who I recognised from ITN.

“ Are you filming for the BBC? “ he asked.

“ Apparently…”

He was with another journalist I recognised from the TV who he made buy me a coffee.

" He's after a favour from me.." Colin confided.

" Sugar? " asked the other TV journalist sourly.

" One please.."

I liked Colin. He gave me loads of encouragement. I thought of the traditional rivalry between BBC and ITV news. Hmm I was up against Colin Baker. That makes me a top bollocks newsman. Rather than rivalling I showed him who Mr. Abdullah was and what I knew of what had been happening. He gave Mr. Abdullah quite a polite and professional grilling. One of the masked guys made sure he was in the background of the camera shot. A cameraman turned up for me with a burly security guard. I wasn't ready for this. I wanted to document how fundamental Islamists felt, not frighten them off. I knew the question I would get paid for but was in no way sure how to get to it with Hamza.

I asked Mr. Abdullah if he knew Asif Hanif. I could tell straight away that with a BBC camera he viewed me as having changed sides for money. When Abu Hamza preached I noticed he spoke very specifically from the Koran against suicide and against killing innocents. At the end I watched Colin in full ITN “ do you refute these allegations” mode. I think someone punched him in the guts, which looked quite funny. I went forward with huge stupid woolly microphone, South African cameraman and a burly BBC security dude in tow. I started asking if there was a truth and reconciliation council set up would he join it.

" Err between who and who? " said Hamza.

"Err..." I wasn't ready for this.

NO COMMENT shouted the short guy. He was annoying. I repeated the question, louder. He started to move from me. I suppose this was unfair journalism. No one but me had suggested the idea of a truth and reconciliation council and here I was asking him to comment on it. For the BBC. He started to walk. The last thing I wanted was to be just another media person chasing after Hamza with a camera but that was exactly what was happening. Afterwards I discussed with Colin the fundamentalists view that they broadcast what the government told them and asked him if he had ever been censored.

" I can honestly put my hand on my heart.." he started. I made him do this before he carried on.

" I can put my hand on my heart and say that I've always had complete editorial control over what I do"

He advised me against journalistic training, saying most people he knew in TV had none and to the others it was often a detriment. I didn't see his report but got the impression he thought Hamza was a terrorist. I knew a lot of my video activist friends would have thought Colin Baker was part of the establishment, but I had become bored with the moral superiority of the underground media " Us and them" attitude and wanted to find out for myself. I was determined to keep an open mind about everyone I met on this bizarre journey, Abu Hamza included.

The next week I turned up and no one wanted to talk to me especially Mr. Abdullah. I could see they felt that when I had my own camera I asked one sort of question, yet when I joined what they viewed as the opposition I had taken their line. They did not believe in a free press, but thought the press worked directly for the government. The question I had asked was genuinely mine but maybe I had been coloured by the idea of earning some money. I had no idea what would happen being more malung than professional journalist. It had gone wrong but didn’t put me off the story. I don’t think the BBC showed any of it. My second attempt at mainstream media infiltration had failed and I didn’t hear from the BBC again.

With successes and failures I had become intrigued as to who British fundamental Islamists actually were as people. I was struck by that surprise glimmer of national pride I had felt with the reality of the situation at Finsbury Park. I got the feeling that London must be one of the most successfully racially integrated places on the face of the planet and that was something to celebrate with a film, rather than making a dogmatic film complaining about Police or government.

Given the situation, it seemed to me that Britain and London in particular was actually the best place in the world to actively seek a solution to this problem and I was angry that no one in government was doing so. It seemed bizarre how the media had focused so much energy around one person, and how much Hamza was up for it, more or less giving them what they wanted. The idea of documenting the war on terror as it unfolded from the perspective of Finsbury Park mosque intrigued me.

I got a surprise call from J. Tom Hurndall; a young British Student Journalist who had been shot by Israeli troops in Palestine was being flown back to a Hampstead hospital. His parents who were flying with him were giving a press conference. I ran from my house across Hampstead heath to find lots of TV cameras in the foyer of the hospital. J. was there apparently wearing pyjama trousers and an Army Jacket with nervous security guards trying to convince him to leave. The press liaison officer of the hospital came out and invited all with press cards to the hospital conference room. We went in with everyone else.

The nervous security tried to throw J. out. The press liaison officer walked in and announced that the conference was for those with journalist cards only. We sat tight. She came back and asked me personally to leave. Not wanting to stress out Tom's parents in such conditions I tried to persuade J. to leave with me. He told me to fuck off. As he sat there I couldn't tell if he was going to cry or go ballistic. I apologised to the organisers.

The security said I should get my mate out or they would throw him out. I told them how he had been close filming battles with Riot police for 30 years and if they wanted to get him out they should get six of their friends just in case. They looked at each other nervously. The press liaison lady was really nice. I explained that I didn't want to cause trouble. I thought Tom, being a student journalist himself would have approved of us being there. Christopher Peacock from ITN was there smiling. He seemed to shine with a beatific glow. Gillian Joseph was there again. She spoke to the press liaison lady for us, which she didn't have to do; I thought it was really nice of her, she is very beautiful.

She came back in and told me everything was OK and the conference was going ahead. I didn't ask many questions of Tom's parents, the previous events having put me off my stride, but it was good to hear about the realities of Palestine from normal, Hampstead Londoners with no axe to grind no flag to fly, just a natural parents concern for a child. I got a feeling-, which I still have, that they will have an important further part to play in the story of the Palestine/Israeli conflict.

The next week Abu Hamza was still about. I found out that Blunkett had sunk himself with the wording of the very law designed to rid us all of the troublesome Hamza. As far as I could tell, you could throw someone out of the country if they had a country to go to but not if they would be stateless. When Hamza had become a British citizen he had given up his Egyptian citizenship and therefore had no country to go to and would be stateless. I wondered how David Blunkett had found himself in such a ridiculous position.

The whole thing seemed absurd to me. The Sun and the world’s media was here accusing, yet no police were arresting. I had read about Hamza's 16-year-old son being arrested for trying to break back into the mosque. Apparently he broke someone’s jaw when they came to arrest him. I had an idea to edit the stuff we had of the kids protest into a film and thought it would be great to have an interview with Abu Hamzas son in it.

I tried to ask Hamza. I was without a camera in the media scrum but he kept turning his face away from me, trying to ignore me, obviously still angry about my BBC ventures before, which I was also frantically trying to explain. Journalists were shouting at me to fuck off. As he was turning his face this way and that I didn't notice two police had joined in until they had the short angry guy with his arms up behind his back. All the supposedly dangerous guys with masks stepped back. Not thinking twice and used to speaking to Police in a lot more heated situations on Mayday demos I jumped in to reason with them. They eventually let go and the Finsbury crew moved off. It was at this point I sort of decided to give up with Hamza. He just seemed to egotistical for me and too into his media image.

I didn't agree with a lot of what Mr Abdullah said, but got the gut feeling that he was speaking from his heart. His whole demeanour was just totally unterrorist like. And he stood next to Hamza. I decided to concentrate more on him if he would speak to me. I remembered my all time favourite documentary Nick Broomfield had made about Eugene Terrablanche in South Africa where he had gone after Terrablanche but ended up making a film with his chauffeur. I wondered if I was in a similar situation.

I managed to befriend a younger Muslim guy who had been watching my antics with amusement. We went to an Internet cafe where he showed me his website which had animated gifs of flamethrowers burning U.S, U.N and Israeli flags. He didn't seem like a terrorist or likely to blow himself up at any point in the near future but he knew what he believed and why.

Like a lot of young Muslims he is fiercely intelligent, but he had a laid back demeanour and could listen to my criticisms and come back with well thought out measured answers. I learnt a lot from him about how young British Islamists felt. Unfortunately he would not appear on camera, a situation I was to encounter all too often with young fundamental Islamists. He spoke to me about Taliban trucks driving through Karachi recruiting youngsters for the war in Afghanistan. Apparently a lot of kids jumped in without telling their parents where they were going.

He said that Abu Hamza had advised young Muslims in Finsbury Park to go to Afghanistan just to know what it felt like to live under real Islamic law. He told me that Taliban just meant " student." I asked him whether they were teaching each other to use Kalashnikovs in the Mosque before it closed. He said he had never seen a gun in the mosque and that surely if they were going to do that, hiding in a safe house would be less blatant than testing out guns in a mosque. He thought the story laughable. I asked him if he or his friends had ever fired a Kalashnikov.

" No have you? " he asked

I had to admit that I had. A lot of travelers in Asia told of a place in Pakistan called Dara where they made Kalashnikovs and other handguns with machine tools. Apparently kids made bullets in the street by hand. As I was in Peshawar I thought what the hell. I had befriended a German guy. I don't usually get on with Germans, yet when you find one with a sense of humor they usually have a wickedly dry sense of humor. He was that sort of German. Dara was in tribal territory officially off limits to foreigners but we thought we'd give it a go. The bus, as usual for Pakistan, was stuffed full of men with no women anywhere. One of the other passengers turned round.

" Where are you going? "

" Dara. " we answered.

" What for? "

" We need weapons!" I announced dramatically.

" You can't go to Dara! Dara is tribal territory!"

" My friend is tribal from England and I am tribal from Germany." my new German friend answered.

" Oh..." I watched the guy explain this to the person sitting next to him in Urdu and nodded seriously and aggressively in the right places.

" Oh..." said the other guy seriously. He had obviously not heard of tribal wars in the UK and was having trouble picturing tattooed and pierced warriors fighting tribal wars against... err...beefeaters?

We carried this on in Dara where as promised we saw kids making bullets in the street. We were offered an Arnie style pump action shotgun to fire or a Kalashnikov and went for the later. We tried to order 400 of each for our tribal wars back home. The vendor helpfully offered us pen guns, which were more concealable. They were the size of a pen but much heavier. He fired one into a wall, which made me jump back.

" Fucking hell, you could kill someone with that! "

On the way home we were pulled off the bus at a Police roadblock. They gave us a full on search asking us if we had bought pen guns. Unfortunately they found a lump of hash in my pocket. The guy in charge who seemed very camp made a big deal of having to arrest me. I offered them money.

" Maybe you want to say that a little slower for him." my German friend said helpfully.

" Do you want money?" I asked again. He reached into my pocket and grabbed my money.

" Yes this is your money!" he answered and put it back.

I got a sinking feeling. I was composing a letter in my head to my mum.

“ Don't pay any baksheesh, just leave me here. I am really sorry.. “

but my German friend carried on talking to them calmly. The guy in charge was still saying how he was going to arrest me and take me to jail as he flagged down another bus, put us on it and waved goodbye. It was at that point that I realized they were all stoned. I waved goodbye smiling. They were all in fits of laughter and were probably pleased to have another lump of hash to smoke.

Not knowing what to do I transferred all we had on tape from the kids and Finsbury Park to my computer and looked through it all. I decided to have a go at editing the kids stuff into a film. At the beginning, to put it all in a strange context I put Mr. Abdullah in shouting

" And you accept Bush and Blair to say that this was done in the name of Jesus? Jesus, peace be upon him said Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall inherit the earth. Is this peace? Is this what Jesus was talking about? "

My first attempt at editing was really obsessive. I hardly slept for ten days and was constantly stoned. As I put music to film I was totally re-awed by what the kids had actually done. I put Hamza's comments about the kids running the country at the end and Mr. Abdullah:

" If you got a kind little furry animal, it doesn't do anyone any harm and you push it into a corner and its being prodded and poked, eventually that animal will turn round and bite you. This is what is happening in the Muslim world today."

I had no idea what had happened in the mosque before, but what Mr. Abdullah had told me that day, four days into the war I thought was worth reporting.

It was decided that concrete blocks be put up around parliament to deter suicide bombers. Now before the Iraq war there were no concrete blocks. Apparently Iraq had been attacked for our safety, and after the event concrete blocks go up. Hmmm...Something about this made me wonder if someone inside government had the feeling that attacking Iraq had made London less safe. With these blocks being the only physical thing we could see of the expense the government had gone to on taxpayers behalf I wondered if these weren't the most expensive concrete blocks in the world.


I didn't join in at Finsbury Park for a while, but maintained a presence without a camera; really just so Mr. Abdullah knew I was still there. I spoke further to some of the younger guys there. I was not surprised, this being England, that they were really friendly to me. These were the guys I had hoped I would find. They could see through my chosen image and we could converse without fear of each other, even though older Muslims told them not to talk to me. They were really enjoying themselves, obviously quite tickled by their sheik's badass-edness. They loved the media scrum, waving their hands in front of world media cameras now being a regular part of their Friday prayers made this a pretty unique mosque.

I remembered going to church as a kid and wondered how I would have felt if the vicar at my local church had suddenly become public enemy number 1. As the worlds media pundits came and went, with no interest in how any of these guys felt, completely Hamza focused for half an hour and then gone I realized why this little bit of the war on terror seemed so one dimensional and sterile. I never saw the same TV journalist twice. Sticking around gave me a feeling of who was who and how things went here. I also realized that maybe time was on my side. I could learn to film, make mistakes, but as long as I was honest, listened and was looking for peace there was a reason for being here. I also just wanted to know what would happen next.

I was deliberately unjournalistic, and spoke about my own opinions without fear. Although I was so obviously not a Muslim, I enjoyed being a local. I asked as many people as possible what happened in the mosque while it was open. I got a feeling that these people were local Finsbury Park Muslims, strange conspiracy theorists, but not international terrorists. I wondered if all the terrorists weren't long gone. The guys in masks the media had ominously focused on didn't say much but I didn't expect them to.

At moments when hysteria had calmed for a bit I watched Hamza talk to journalists calmly, without fuss. Often he would turn down interviews and then get drawn into conversations anyway. Being a preacher, he had the preacher’s love of talking. I noticed he had an unintentionally comical foreigners way of speaking English which reminded me strangely of my father, a Hungarian immigrant who arrived here after World War Two.

As there were a maximum of 3 women at the mosque at any given week I wondered how female journalists would be treated. There was no problem, and when I quizzed them afterwards they often remarked with surprise how polite he was. I wondered from a distance who Abu Hamza actually was. I hadn't warmed to him, and would have agreed with the Sun's portrayal of him if it weren’t for the man next to him.

Mr. Abdullah just didn't seem like the sort of person who would secretly plot terrorist outrages, or be so devoted to someone who would. He wasn't an immigrant and spoke with a totally London attitude and a totally London accent. I really wanted to talk to him some more, I still didn't have my own camera and it was a mark of how deeply unpopular Hamza is that I couldn't find one person with a camera in the activist community who was willing to come near to Finsbury Park and this story, and no one more professional than I was here documenting it either.

I spoke to a lot of friends one reaction typified them all:

"You're wasting your time. Its all just a three ring circus. The media is totally controlled. Even people like Tony Benn are in on it. They are the worst, because they pretend there is some sort of opposition. It's a fucking charade."

"But you don't know that for certain" I countered. "I'm finding out for myself, I can't give up just because you say so."

"You're wasting your time."

"Stop saying that."

I took a copy of my finished film about the kids to Finsbury Park one Friday. I approached Mr. Abdullah for the first time since our falling out over the BBC thing.

"Here you go, this is about the kids protest. Thanks for being in it anyway.."

I didn't stick around. After the break I had from these people I felt like an alien, by most people I had been at best tolerated. I wasn't a Muslim; I wasn't there to pray. This was their deal and I was a kaffir.

A while later I saw on the news that the F.B.I said they had a prisoner in Guantanamo bay who was implicating Abu Hamza as an Al Qaida recruiter. I got to Finsbury Park on a motorbike with a friend G. Christopher Peacock was there complete with a satellite transmitter van with an ariel heading off into the skies.

" Hello, remember me? " I smiled

" Yes I do. Who was your friend? I thought we were all going to be thrown out! "

I had met Christopher at the hospital where they had brought Tom Hurdall in Hampstead (see MALUNG-TV, BBC NEWS IN FINSBURY PARK)

Outside the mosque G engaged Christopher Peacock in friendly debate about the issues involved. He was a Punjabi from the West Midlands and had twin sisters who had converted to Islam. Their husbands were involved in Islamic relief efforts. I liked Christopher. He had a disquietening beatific glow around him. There was another TV journalist I recognized who was looking much more nervous. As ITV fired up their satellite G. went over the road to the jewelers to ask if we could plug in the battery charger for our camera. I remember as I crouched over the camera box I closed my eyes and prayed for 5 minutes although I have no idea who I was praying to. As Islamists gathered Chris and the other journalist were up by the front talking to the police. I thought I would have a bit of fun.

" Everything OK? " I asked.

" Yes."

" They don't like you lot do they?"

" No "

" You'll be O.K. Just don’t get in front of them while they are praying because if they are bending down praying to Allah and they get up and see you there they will come and punch you. "

" Err... I'll have to take an editorial decision.." started the other guy. He was a bit of a knob end.

We didn't film Abu Hamza preaching, instead choosing to leave the battery charging for as long as possible. The comedy terrorist had struck that week and I was trying to compose a question for Hamza which would link in with this.

" Mr. Hamza is the comedy terrorist any challenge to your role in British Society? "

I noticed that this was easily his worst moment I had witnessed. Mr. Abdullah was almost holding him up as he was preaching. Was this because he was guilty? Or because he was scared now the F.B.I. had got involved? Maybe he was ill. It was strange to see him, usually so blustery and arrogant, looking so frail. As Muslims prayed G. ran to the shop to get the battery out. I looked round. Where the fuck were the TV people? I thought they had gone home. I peeped round the corner. They were halfway down the alley. I couldn't help myself bursting into laughter. A chair was brought forward for Hamza to sit in we all stood around talking. Hamza must have been wondering where the TV crews were. As he got up they came round the corner. The other guy, Paul Smtih I think his name is pushed himself up as close to Hamza as he could get waving the files in his hand.

" These F.B.I. files say that you recruited for Al Qaida. " For a change the police had decided to get between Islamists and media people.

With the police right there things got really strange. I didn't hear what the policeman said.

I heard Paul Smith answer " He is he's making one. (A statement)

A few people were shouting " All lies! All crap! "

Hamza said, " Do you believe the F.B.I. yourself? Come on. "

Again I didn't hear what the policeman said but the short angry guy shouted, " What do you want me to do fly? Do your job! "

I never got a good vibe from this guy even when I had tried to talk the police out of arresting him. He was by far the angriest Muslim I had met in Finsbury Park at any time. Christopher chose to stay well out of the frame. Chicken! I was sick of this. I wondered how anyone could take it seriously. The F.B.I with a budget of millions accuses from America, do we get F.B.I agents here at Finsbury Park to arrest Hamza? Or even wave files for themselves? Do the British police want to arrest him? So who do we get doing the F.B.I's business? Paul fucking Smith from ITV.

After meeting Chris, Colin Baker and Gillian Joseph, I no longer felt that the media was controlled. I thought these guys honestly reflected the views of the majority, and I was in the minority. I'm sure Paul felt he was just doing his job too, but I could see also how to any Islamist he was here as a representative of the F.B.I. I was pissed off with everyone. I had thought for a while that everyone was playing up to their roles of who they expected to find. Media were finding terrorists, Islamists were finding evil Zionist media.

No one was looking for a peaceful solution anywhere. I wondered what God would thing of it all. He, or she seemed a long way away from here. I thought as it was open season on kangaroo's in Britain’s most famous kangaroo court I would have a go at a bit of bouncing myself.

" The British government have been talking for years to people they accuse of terrorism in Northern Ireland. Have they been talking to you about peace in this country? " I asked.

Hamza said something about the British government and the Zionists liking I.R.A. terrorists. I asked him if David Blunkett had ever spoken to him personally.

" I wouldn't speak to him."

They got Hamza into a car and were putting newspapers in front of the windscreen to block cameras. One of the TV cameramen clocked the short angry guy on the head with his camera for which he wanted him arrested for assault.

" So are you going to clear this up? " asked Smith

" This is a cowboys court, get the people in a proper court. Where are your weapons of mass destruction? Come on." said Hamza.

" A kangaroo court." interjected the short guy. " You've got a liar as a prime minister, a fanatic as a president of America, don't expect us to comment on a bunch of jokers. And you work for them. "

I started throwing a few things in just to try and get them talking to me. I remember thinking that I was unsure if I was trying to make comedy or serious documentary.

" Why don't you go and find that butcher Putin. " Ah, it was true Vladimir Putin was in the country talking to Blair. " Three days now he's been in this country go and talk to him. "

G. was doing a great job filming, and didn't smell of alcohol too much but was being pushed back the same as every other camera.

" Brothers we need to have discipline! Brothers back off! Let the Police do their job. " Mr. Abdullah was shouting.

I noticed how he had always been a calming influence on the media scrums. On the weeks he wasn't there things were much more out of control.

" He wants to leave now so if you can all move out of the way the vehicle can leave." The policeman sounded like a teacher in a playground.

There was more pandemonium, G. was trying to film. One of the masked guys who had never spoken to me turned to me and said

" You know we're not terrorists don't you? " I just put my hand on his shoulder.

The short guy, Abu Aziz was really angry. I tried to ask them all if they wanted to go to the Sun newspaper to talk to them. I thought this would be great for my film. The short guy went on

" You've seen the behavior of the nice, neutral British Police. When Mr. Abdullah was preaching, one of them came up to me and said. He is on the verge of making a homophobic statement. But all the Police were blind dumb and stupid when we were assaulted by cameramen. "

Mr. Abdullah pulled him back and started talking to me. I looked for G. shouting to him to come and film, the guy who was stalling him saw I was talking to Mr. Abdullah and let him past.

" These are the police who are implementing man made laws to suppress their fellow human beings. "

" Police? The prime ministers pimps. " Interjected the short guy.

" But we've got the best Police force in the world though, haven't we? Compared to other countries. " I answered. In all the time I had been there I had only seen police being polite to them, closing the road for them, individual Policemen would sometimes be making conversation with Islamists, mask or no mask to ease tension. None of them wanted to be on TV or to arrest anyone if they could possibly help it.

" Yes, compared to other countries, we have the best police in the world but at the end of the day its all rubbish because they want to sit and accept man made laws but not Gods laws. At the end of the day a homosexual a paedophile, everyone else has got rights. When it comes to a Muslim, charge him with terrorism act 2000 if he preaches what’s in the Koran, that’s a threat to society, and he'd locked up with no trial, but a paedophile, a murderer, everyone else, goes to prison, for a short time, and they come out and do it again. What kind of justice? There needs to be balance. At the moment these Zionist Jews that are running your country, and America and most of Europe, there is no justice for a Muslim. There’s justice for Hindu's Sikh's everyone else but there is no rights for a Muslim. At the end of the day they have to do what they have to do, we have to do what we have to do. They can physically torture us but they can never touch what is in our hearts. "

He continued
" These governments are continuing strutting their stuff like they have in Afghanistan, and Pakistan, next will be Iran after that its Syria then Somali and after Somalia they are going to starve Turkey. They are not strong enough to attack Turkey but in five or six years time they will attack Turkey. These are the plans of the Pajan. "

My all time favorite Muslim on the scene was an old guy with a great smile who was always with Mr. Abdullah. His name was Hajj. He interjected

" You want to know the honest truth? You know David Ike? Go and get his latest book. "

Mr. Abdullah had calmed down a bit and left saying that it was nice talking to us.

I watched Christopher Peacocks report and laughed when he said they got out of the way due to respect for Friday prayers. I got the feeling most British people would agree with his take on things. I laughed at another episode of how Hamza, through the TV been turned into a cartoon celebrity. G. and I reviewed what we had on camera.

" I did all that! and without even have a drink first! said G.

It was just what I was after. We had fun, had a completely different take than the mainstream news, coming from and proud of, a distinctly different part of British society, and we managed to document what a British fundamental Islamist actually thought. I was surprised again at the Icke reference, as I knew David Icke wasn't a Muslim. I wondered how he would feel about having Abu Hamza's friends quoting him.

I felt I had learnt a lot more, from first hand than I had watching TV or reading the Sun. Finsbury park mosque, on the street has become like no other mosque in the world. I got much more of a feeling of how Muslims must be feeling worldwide. Although I knew the police in Finsbury Park seemed fair, I wondered about this catch all terrorism act 2000 and how it must feel as a Muslim to be at risk of arrest from it.

The overall feeling I got was of a people longing for a religious homeland. Christians claim Britain is a Christian country because the Queen goes to church. Afghanistan was the only religious Muslim country and as such attracted Muslims who believed in the fundamentals of their religion from all over the world. Were they training for terrorism? Or war? How much similarity has this with Ireland? If we are going to globalize isn't sorting this sort of thing what globalization is for? Is Mo Molams obvious talent for this sort of thing sitting idle? I could see these people felt they were at war. With apostate governments in Muslim countries, with the Russian government who were attacking Muslims in Chechnya, and now the Allies who attacked Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan. It wasn't a war for oil, but a holy war where they felt they were justified, even compelled to be involved in by God.

Its all rubbish. If David Blunkett and Abu Hamza are as proud to be British as I or as any of the Policemen here are, I thought they should be put in a Big Bother situation together. For the safety of their fellow Londoners of course. I eventually sent this as a proposal to channel 4. I saw the chairman of Endemol wanted to do a political Big Brother and thought Hamza and Blunkett to be the ideal candidates. I thought the programme would be highly watchable, and would fulfill all channel 4's remits as well, involving as it did, disability, race, minority groups etc. A couple of months later I got a reply going something like, we haven't chosen it this time, but don't let that put you off trying!


After being involved in various Reclaim the streets and Mayday demo's it felt good to be around something where I was proud of the British Police although in truth I haven't been anti British police for many years. Living the life of a vagrant in London they had always been kind to me when I was pavement drawing. Doing squat parties in London we would often have the whole night patrol come slamming through the door. What we were doing was blatantly illegal, yet as we concentrated all their problems in one area, and were polite they always left without busting us.

One time we were having a party where we lived in a squat in Hoxton st. It was a Halloween fancy dress. We invited three sound systems and had a theatre, which included the stage and scenery from the hit west end show Bottom which started Ade Edmonson and Rik Mayall.

There were a few Osama Bin Ladens and an amazing mummy. We were all joking that if the Police were going to bust us it had better be tonight. I was standing by the door, painted red from head to toe with not much on, and what I did have on was made of fur. Sure enough, 2 van loads of Police turned up. We tried to close the heavy wooden door but they barged it open and tried to push in against a growing barrage of costumed people.

Seth who is six foot four (see BRING THE WAR TO THE FLOOR earlier) was there in a mini dress and a Merlin mask. He had his hands on a Policeman’s shoulders until the policeman realised and got agitated, so Seth let go. I leaned through

" Excuse me Merlin. I think you'll need this..." I picked up a plastic sword from the ground and put it in his hands. The policeman nearest me started trying to assert himself.

" Look mate you're getting red paint all over your uniform." I warned him.

Eventually two senior looking dudes with caps on stood forward. The older guy turned to the younger and said

" Right. What are you going to do." apparently we were to be part of a training session.

" We have suspicions of an illegal bar here. " he said to one of our number. " Can the two of us search the premises? "

This was agreed to and the officers were escorted, the long way, around the building. The guy doing the escorting was hoping someone would be going the short way to trash and hide as much of the bar as possible. I have no idea who was running it. I was just hanging around my front door to make sure no thieves left with anything from my house. The party was heaving and sweating with 400 costumed people totally out of their nuts some of who were shouting at these two policemen complimenting them on their fancy dress outfits.

By the time the officers had got downstairs the alleged bar had allegedly disappeared but there were still 4 fridges to negotiate. The younger guy opened one fridge to find one Alco pop bottle. Then he went upstairs. I wasn't there but I heard a story that all the other fridges were brim full of beer. I was still with the other police by the door who we were already getting on good terms with. The officers came back upstairs grinning from ear to ear obviously impressed with everyone’s costumes.

Everyone thanked them for coming and said that if they wanted to come again there was no need to bust the door, they could always talk to us. We asked if they wanted to stay for a beer but they said no, they unfortunately had to work. When the door eventually closed we all jumped around like kids for a little bit. None of the Metropolitan Police want to bust you for hash; they quite sensibly don't want to waste their time. Like most British people they just want you to be polite. The Police were the main force behind Cannabis being lowered to class " C " whatever that means. At times they seemed to be campaigning for it to be decriminalized more than most dope smokers I know. In truth the Police in Finsbury Park were turning a blind eye to all sorts of homophobic statements, punches and kicks and I didn't blame them at all. It was, totally the British thing to do.


And what of Abu Hamza? We haven't seen anyone so vilified since Johnny Rotten. I still had no idea who the fuck he was. I just had the feeling that if he was who the Sun said he was, someone more sinister than Mr. Abdullah would be standing next to him. The masked men looked sinister enough on TV, but just seemed like fashion victims close up.

What if Hamza was a terrorist? Britain had negotiated with terrorists before; loads of them had come in from out of the cold and were sitting in Parliament in Northern Ireland. Last time we were at risk from terrorism even a Tory like John Major was negotiating behind the scenes. The situation seemed ludicrous. The governments of Britain and America make allegations outside of court and journalists come to local little Finsbury Park to put them to the Finsbury Park debating society on the pavement.

For a long while I couldn't take anyone seriously. Did he have any connection to anyone who was threatening the UK? Could he be considered a serious spokesman? It didn't seem so at first from close up. It seemed like most of the Finsbury Park guys, he just liked the attention. It made him feel important.

Although I didn't see this government as being serious, about terrorism or about the safety of London, I wondered would Abu Hamza be the sort of person a serious government could negotiate with? Considering how he had been portrayed in the media I knew no one would think so. In some ways he was ridiculed, in others it was implied that he was dangerous. Yet he was one of the only people in the west who stood up and said

" Yes I am a Fundamental Islamist".

And as such all the woes and ills of this international argument had a lone sounding board, with every journalist who thought they had repute queuing up to talk to him. It takes a resilient character to be that sounding board week in, week out, yet Hamza, being Hamza was well up for it. From first impressions I found someone who seemed not to care less what people thought of him but as the weeks went on things started to change.

After my initial approaches I didn't really want to talk to him so much. I was happy just documenting. It was no doubt true that he had considerably revised what he was saying, and the manner in which he said it outside the mosque from what he had said inside. As the weeks went on, and the west's secular journalists were here pitting themselves against the west's only representative of Fundamental Islam it seemed to me that we were actually getting somewhere. From the perspective of peace, it seemed good for both sides of this very serious argument that at least some debate was occurring. It certainly seemed good for Hamza.

The constant justification of his words to non-believers seemed, surprisingly to be turning him into a serious representative of Fundamental Islam, whatever he had previously said. After a few weeks he sat down, the ego softened. For a year now I have watched him say continually that the European people should not be a target, because the majority of them were in the same boat, being anti-war and powerless to do anything about it. I wondered what Martin McGuiness and Gerry Adams used to say and do, and how they had trod the road to political respectability- whatever that meant. Could the same road be traveled by Abu Hamza? Looking at the press the idea seemed totally ludicrous. Muslim representatives in the press said he was a nothing. They hated him getting so much attention and said he just gave them a bad name. Yet the BBC, ITV and all the worlds’ media took him seriously enough. Some Islamists on the Internet even said that Hamza was doing such a good job focusing media attention on the ills of Islamists that he must be working for MI-5 himself.

Again I wondered to myself where else on the face of the planet this would be occurring. Elsewhere in the UK I could imagine Islamists in separate groups speaking of their hatred of George Bush, and secular middle class British people wondering when we were going to sling out captain hook. Here at the border of free speech the two sides met under the supervision of the Police. It takes a unique country for this sort of debate to be tolerated in and as such, with the only other choice for this country being to have a faceless, wordless threat I was pleased Hamza was still around, and pleased to be in "Londonistan".

As the weeks went on the scuffles in the media scrum died down. Everyone had their role they felt they should play. As people got used to me being around, I still had the same problem with the same people who felt that it was their job to obstruct my camera, and still had the same friendly debates with some of the brighter and younger of Finsbury Parks Muslim community. Hamza seemed to have done nothing for which the Police wanted to charge him. I wondered what wrong he had done? Maybe The Sun had him all wrong and he was actually just one of those great British eccentrics. I had no way of telling, but I was really pleased that I had this unique document of the reality of British freedom of speech in my camera and totally bemused that I was, for the first time in many long years, now proud of being British.


" Hey I saw you on TV last week! " said one of my young friends in Finsbury Park.

For a couple of weeks I had to sit back from Abu Hamza's problems. I had problems of my own. My latest media infiltration had occurred, not from any effort of my own, but just simply because I, and those I lived with had got on with our neighbours. The hottest day of the year so far was being reported and as usual for this time of year as parliament broke for summer recess, silly season for TV news was declared sending researchers scouring the local papers for obscure stories. The Ham and High, and the CNJ had for the last year been reporting a Highgate squat, in an affluent area which had the enthusiastic support of its pensioner neighbours from day 1. Its number was finally up and this unlikely community was being broken up by Camden Councils Bailiffs. Errm... this was us.

I filmed some of the behind the scenes action. Christine Phillips from BBC London was the first to arrive. She was ace, she filmed a tea party we had with our pensioner neighbours, some of whom had made cakes. I was getting to really like BBC London and was developing a crush on Emily Matliss, the presenter. ITV London arrived on the day of the eviction. I was wary of letting them in until the cameraman looked out from behind his lens and said

" I know you, you were down with Captain Hook the other weekend! "

He was the last to leave, " There you go, the BBC didn't stick around to film this! " he said as he filmed bailiffs smashing our back windows, with us and our neighbours shouting " Vandals!"

They were all fantastic people. Our neighbors, the media, the police, all us had a great day together. Legally we were in the wrong but what did it look like on TV?

" We better not comment on that one. Lots of food for thought, we thought. " Said Alistair Stewart.

I obviously hated speech makers because I so much wanted to be one, but without sleep for 2 days, Christine had caught me on a massive sleep deprivation high, and I still like what I said in her interview. I gave her a big hug before she left. In this journey to find out whether the media was controlled I’ve met more great journalists than bad, and the worst crime I’ve seen the bad ones commit was to be up their own arses.

One of my neighbors had told me a few days before of a rumor on the estate that I was in league with Islamic terrorists. No doubt people had seen me bobbing about in the background on the TV news. The truth was I was trying to make my own news program, from one of the most magical free spaces in North London with Highgate cemetery at one end of the road, and Hampstead heath at the other, and a view from the roof which was higher than Parliament Hill. I though Camden council quite generous giving the place a year, it was a home to a great number of people. A year later, the building is still empty.


When I first started filming in Finsbury Park, I had no serious intention of approaching TV companies with my story. I was just having fun. I suspected the media to be totally controlled. As I found out for myself that it didn't seem to be, the idea of approaching production companies became more serious. The most encouragement I got from the scene was from a newspaper journalist, who I sometimes caged ciggies off of, and who gave me a contact for documentary making. I asked him why he never asked Hamza questions one time, to be told that he was

“ Out of favour with the Muslim brothers. “

He was such a nice guy I thought about asking them to reconsider. I finally got round to asking him who he wrote for.

“ The Sun and The Express “ he told me.

With that statement the whole ludicrous nature of what I had become involved with seemed to spin full circle. One of the original reasons I had come down was because of The Suns coverage of this mosque, and the journalist I had received the most encouragement from wrote for them. Even though I had been at times flippant, I believed I had the other side of what the right wing press, and the London TV News had deemed to be one of the most important stories in the UK.

I joined a filmmakers website called shootingpeople and began answering production company calls for new documentary makers. My film about the kids protest had been well received by those who were in it, but totally mulched by a couple of serious film maker friends, some of whom actually seemed to be telling me off for making such a low quality film. Although I suspected this was out of frustration with their own lack of success I still became loath to show what I had to strangers.

I met was a guy who actually helped run the shooting people web site. He was great, we shared an interest in meditation and he lent me a book by a Canadian guy who worked on monster movies called Hardcore Zen. He wished me all the best. I think he would have loved to produce something involving a few peoples footage, and had his eyes on making the British Bowling for Columbine.

A couple of months later I answered a call from a Swedish production company working in the U.K. They thought the stuff I had amusing, but I rambled nonsensical stuff about how I wanted to make it really off the wall, and how I wanted to be painted red head to toe if I was going to present it. I watched some of the stuff they had made. Although it was socially conscious, it was a bit A B C in presentation, and they seemed a bit straight for what I was after, with no idea of Hamza's status in British society. They all looked down as I shook their hands when I left and I didn't hear from them again.

A company called Idealworld had put a call out. I phoned them, but stuttered so much I thought I had completely fucked my chances. After phoning back a couple of times to find them in meetings, I gave up, feeling sorry for myself. I wondered why I had dedicated so much time to all this.

I thought of what I would like to have in my documentary if money was no object. I wanted to include an interview with David Icke, and possibly a phone conversation with the guy who runs infowars where the allegation of George Bush worshiping an Owl God was actually made. I wanted to blue screen an image of George Bush on his lawn in front of his helicopter with me running into frame and falling over, hounding him with questions about his alleged owl god worship and child sacrifice.

In my Internet research I had come up with the name Yvonne Ridley. She was a journalist who had been captured in Afghanistan by the Taliban. She had been set free, without harm, speaking of having been well treated by her captors. She had later actually converted to Islam. I read in some of her writing that she had met Abu Hamza. They had both been guests at a student debating society. I thought what she would have to say might bridge the gap of understanding between Islam and the west.

I went to a small demo marking one year since the invasion of Iraq. I saw George Galloway but although I had my camera I still didn't ask him about his indefatigable comments. As I went round filming I bumped into a friend I had made who makes a living animating in 3D. He was standing next to Naz, a rapper from the band Fundamental who looks like a younger version of Bin Laden. He had grown up a Muslim in the north of England, had lapsed into western society and was now reclaiming his Muslim faith. I had earlier put him in my film about the kids and he was really complimentary about it. We were joined by an older woman who he introduced as Yvonne. She had a sharp sense of humour and the two of them obviously knew each other well and had a banter going.

" You know who this is? " said Naz.

" Yvonne Ridley! She was taken prisoner by the Taliban!"

" You don't know how long I have been wanting to talk to you. " I told her about my filming in Finsbury Park and switched my camera on hoping she would have something to say.

I had previously spoken to Naz about my frustrations getting Muslims to talk on camera about Fundamental Islam or Abu Hamza. I instantly had the same trouble with Yvonne, as she didn't like to be in front of a camera either.

I filmed Naz saying something like "The Taliban had to let her go because she was too much of an extremist for them."

She said that according to her religion, it was wrong to criticize fellow Muslims. I told her of my dislike for the seemingly power crazed lunatics who ran the stop the war movement and how I had no problem criticizing them. It was decided that we would go for a coffee, but I lost them all trying to film the stage through the spray of Trafalgar Squares fountains. I later heard from my friend that she had said of me

"I don't want to talk to that stone worshiper.“

Fair enough I suppose. I thought she would have something more useful to say than that though. It was interesting that only 3 of the Muslims I had met in Finsbury Park judged me by the way I looked, and yet a recent convert like Yvonne would be on my case so soon.

After about a month I got another call from Idealworld. The researcher who had originally contacted me left a message saying that a new documentary producer was on the scene, and they were eager to see what I had. The night before I was really nervous. A years work on the line, to be judged by the people who made Location, Location, Location seemed to be even more ludicrous than Finsbury Park. The meeting was good. They had got back to me because they had been reading the right wing press and realised how big a story I was on to. After a year standing in the cold with Islamists it was great to be sitting in front of a producer who was in a position to make this into a documentary who really wanted to do it.

We spoke of the politics surrounding the situation. With the predicted expansion of Muslim communities in Europe I wondered whether someone with Hamza’s views might one day be standing for mayor of Dusseldorf or something. They liked my approach, and wanted to see the human side of Mr Abdullah. I was relieved that they preferred to make a film about him rather than Hamza. They were totally up for it, but had to get a commission from Channel 4, and I have to get the agreement of Mr. Abdullah.