June 07, 2004


Wow. What a day. I arrived in Finsbury Park and passed a copy of my cd on to Barry the Boss. I rambled at him about making a documentary. He advised me to lie down. I then filmed Mr.Norman and Mr.Abdullah talking in the street. It was like two people politely talking across a canyon 3 foot wide. On one side you have Barry, the Borough Police Commander, who just wants the mosque to go back to how it was 2 years ago, on the other you have a man who believes George Bush sacrifices children to an Owl god and that his sheik, who is facing 100 years in a U.S. jail on terrorist charges is an innocent man who has been framed by Zionists and Freemasons.

“ There might come a time when if we are making no progress, we might have to force the issue a bit. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.” said Barry.

For the first time, the image of Riot Police removing worshippers from the street loomed.

“ If the worst did come to the worst, you may have to make arrests… Its something we believe in and is very hard to walk away from if we are going to be arrested or bullied by who ever the government chooses to send down on top of our heads. We don’t want to make things complicated for the Police…I think the British public and the government should address the issue delicately instead of forcing you to force your hand.”

“ Just a bit of feedback from what you said though, Mr.Abdullah… I don’t necessarily expect you to believe me but from my perspective there is no pressure on me. It’s up to me. I’m the Police commander round here. And I don’t want to end up with us having to make lots of arrest and all of the huge disruption that causes… there’s other things we should be getting on with. But we have spent 16 months allowing you to have your protest.”

“ Allah allows us…with respect.” Mr. Abdullah interjected pointing to the sky.

“ We’ve spent 16 months without intervening… which we could have done 16 months ago... There has to come a time when things have to be revued and a decision taken as to whether we carry on as we were or things change. That’s all I’m saying… That doesn’t mean we want to get into a confrontation.“

“…To be honest from your point of view it is more delicate for you than it is us because even though there are moderate or soft muslims… they wouldn’t take it kindly that Muslims are removed from there place of worship, and they know the story is that we are the ones who have been evicted from the mosque.”

To any foreigner who is reading this it might be helpful to explain that my country is insane. Totally fucking barking. I had to interject at this point, just to see what would happen.

“ Can I make a suggestion? I don’t know how both of you would feel. Obviously you don’t want to block off the street anymore and you seem to be getting along. Could the mosque be reopened? Maybe with Muslim police and media attention ?”

“ No that is not possible at all” said Mr.Abdullah. “. ..this is not acceptable in Islam to have the Police policing us within our own mosque…Its not Islamic for us to give our brother up for something petty…( was he referring to Hamza’s arrest as for something petty? ) that he may go to prison and face persecution and his family to be harmed as well…”

I wanted to point out that Police had been supervising them quite ammicably for the last 16 months, often for their own safety. As Mr. Norman gave a calm and rational interview to the BBC Mr. Abdullah was screaming in the background over the P.A. about police intervention and persecution. I wouldn’t swop jobs with Barry. He behaves like a classic “ This is my patch” Policeman and gave Mr.Abdullah his word that no one from the government or the mosque had said anything to him. I asked him if he would be happy reopening the Mosque with Mr.Abdullah in it as he obviously had such an exemplarily relationship with him. He explained that it wasn’t his decision but a matter for the trustees. I felt like egging him on.

“Go on.” I felt like saying. “ Use some force. Open the mosque, send them all in and supervise them with Police. Go on Barry. Heres a bunch of Muslims, heres a mosque, put one inside the other then go home and put your feet up. It’s your patch. It’s your decision…”

His alternative is to send in the riot squad and have them all arrested.Every time I have seen Barry in Finsbury Park he had looked as scared of the supposed "terrorists" here as I was.The gap between what was happening in the press and the courts and what was happening on the street had never been so apparent. The local Police have always treated the mosque as eccentrics. It seemed bloody obvious that Barry didn’t think Mr. Abdullah was a terrorist yet he was talking politely to a man who’s best friend is being called the Bin Laden of Britain. I think Hamza would have loved that but very much doubt if he would deserve it. Although Barry and his police get on fine with the Muslims outside there would be pandemonium in the press if they were let back into the mosque.

As prayers continued an interesting debate started between an irate UBA sympathizer and a Moslem who regularly sets up his table selling Muslim books and expounding conspiracy theories. The UBA guy said he wasn’t racist but was against people who take out of the country without putting anything back. He said that the national health service was in the state it was in because of these people. The guy with the table said that most of British taxpayers money went to support Israel.

" How can you say that? " asked the UBA guys friend.

A masked Muslim came through and a scuffle almost started. Mr.Abdullah came steaming through a Policeman holding him back.

“ Take your hand off me copper. Cos it’ll be on your head if it kicks off round here…They’’ll be blood shed here and it’ll be because of them idiots there and this copper here…”

There was no "scuffle" between UBA and Muslims,as some of the press reported. The muslim bookseller said it was a fuss about nothing. The UBA were very unhappy to be reported as racists. Barry was standing in the background through all this. And he had an appointment to speak further with Mr. Abdullah in the week. I don’t think I’m going to hassle him with any more questions.

After prayers Mr.Abdullah ralied the troops

" Right lets go to the American embassy. If any brother knows the nearest tube station, can they inform the other brothers."

I followed the Muslims to their protest outside the American embassy where Mr.Abdullah started telling me how the Policeman manhandled him. The Police had intervened before any punches were thrown and it looked to me like the policeman was just holding Mr. Abdullah back from joining in the non-existant scuffle. Patrick and Jamie had been in Finsbury Park, where I had tried to introduce him to Mr. Abdullah, he also came down to the U.S. Embassy where I was amazed to see him slip instantly into polite conversation with “ the short guy ” as I have referred to him in previous blogs. He had hayfever and I stepped back in wonder as they talked. I spoke afterwards to him, Aziz I think his name is and told him honestly how difficult I had found him and how I had never had a decent conversation with him. He looked really surprised. I was surprised how approachable he now was. I have seen this story turn on its head a few times. Patrick’s conversation with Aziz, which I wasn’t able to film was another of these bizarre moments.

It was bizarre to see this little group off their turf outside the U.S. Embassy.I wondered whether one of the masked guys with a sign saying " release our father " was actually one of Hamza's kids. I went to try and talk to the UBA guys but they turned ugly and accused me of being

“With the hook”

I wanted to record how they felt as I thought they were making some points I wanted to include in my story. If a previously racist white group was now accepting black members who were "proud to be British" I think thats a very British story in itself.

Finsbury Park Mosque. Terrorists or misunderstood local worshippers?


the dangers of voting...

No comments: