February 19, 2005
REVENGE OF THE NORMAL PEOPLE
Even though I am not a Muslim, and I think that if people with Abu Hamza’s beliefs outnumbered me in Britain I would probably be in trouble, I couldn’t help but feel sad for Jamal, Abdullah and co when I heard that they had lost their Mosque. They had protested for 20 months about its closure and felt that they had been wronged.
I was sad but not surprised. Even in the short time I was inside last November I was aware of the paranoia and animosity inside. As I arrived in Finsbury Park I was a bit paranoid myself. With the BBC and Police waiting to see if these dangerous extremists were going to turn up and cause trouble I was aware that I was probably the only person there who knew that they weren’t coming.
When I asked Abdullah if they would return to the street the previous night he had replied
“The brotherhood is still strong. We have to consider our position.”
They weren't coming.
As I got a look at the new trustee’s I thought about what Samir had said to me on the phone the day before when he pointed me to the Times article about the new trustee’s links with Hamas.
“These people smile and say what the British people want to hear but behind closed doors they are the ones with the links with terrorists. We say what we believe openly in the street whether people like it or not and get all the flak for it.”
Looking at them, I could see that they were Muslims who were much more at ease in British society than I am but I didn’t feel like challenging them. I didn’t challenge Abdullah either until the other day, its just not my way. I don’t want to be fucking clever and catch people out I want to document what they believe.
As I watched Daniel Sanford from BBC News practicing what he was going to say I got an inkling of the general feeling towards the situation. This sort of news is made by people who know what they think. Malung-TV-News is the questions in between.
I have no idea about the allegations of violence, but Abdullah's continual denials that his lot were a threat to the british people hadn't got on TV. Was this his own fault or is it a "Zionist media conspiracy" as he and Hamza were preaching? Could we have got a slightly different take on TV over a year ago? We shall never know and now they have lost their Mosque.
How much were the brothers themselves responsible for their terrible media image? I showed my footage to a friend a few days earlier who said:
“Don’t they have any idea how offensive a huge guy screaming about Kaffirs and Sodomites and Paedophiles in the street surrounded by masked Muslims looks to your average British person?”
How much could it be said that they were feeding their hands into their enemies mouths to bite?
News is like a cartoon in this situation and Daniel gave a good rundown of the key points of this cartoon.
“An eight million pound mosque that fell into the hands of the extremists, now being returned to the community.... No sign of Abu Hamza’s followers but this is only the first Friday and they may yet return.”
The F.I.T. squad photographer, obviously a bit upset that there wasn’t going to be any trouble took a couple of photographs of me. His spotter stood next to him making sure I noticed him pointing at me. I managed to smile by the second shot. I felt like saying
“What exactly do you think I am doing? Do I look like a fucking Muslim to you? I am making a FILM. Do you understand what that is?”
He ran past me really excited because one of Hamza’s supporters had come out of the front door of the block of flats where he lived. Two police gave him a talking to for a bit, then he casually strolled down the middle of the street, masked to the eyes, all camera’s trained on him. He didn’t even look at the mosque or make any protest.I was reminded of Nick Griffin's comment's about "Punk Islamists."
Growing up in Britain, masked up, making no attempt to fit in or justify themselves to the media, there is a lot of similarity to the punk of the late 70’s. This remind's me also of Yvonne Ridley's article quoting Aki from Fun-da-Mental as saying that for him, Islam was "More punk than punk." Both Aki and Yvonne were up for saying something in Hamza's defence over a year ago. I can't help but be frustrated as all the time its been Abdullah holding things back for me rather than any Zionist media. Anyone would be paranoid in his situation though.
Barry didn’t help. He told me that I “looked weird” twice. He told the media
“We are very happy to be here for a new beginning because for far too long now we have had to protect the community from a small number of extremists. We haven’t known how the extremists would react, but I’m pleased to say that we’ve had no reaction at all. This is the best day for a very long time, lets hope it gets even better.”
"Come on then trouble." he said to me, my camera running.
"So what happened? You were getting on O.K. before christmas, you had Abdullah round for dinner..."
"I certainly didn't have him round for dinner. He was at the station a couple of times."
I asked if Abdullah and co removed by riot police as had been reported in the media?
“No there were no riot Police, that's not how it works.”
Was there a warrant out for Abdullah or any of his friends? Would any of the serious allegations in the press be repeated in court?
“No there’s no warrant.”
So I can carry on filming with the guys?
“Of course. I’m cool with that.”
"You called Abdullah an extremist. An extremist in his words or his actions?"
"I thought his actions were troublesome, provocative and I'm very glad he's not here today."