November 24, 2005


A friend of a friend is Guy Smallman, one of the more successful professional photographers who is also on the protest "scene". In passing he looked at my Malung Movies and took a liking to Hajj (I used to smoke dope etc from Preachers of Hate) and asked if he could maybe take a photograph of him.

Although his views are as controversial as the rest of them, its hard not to like Hajj. Anyway this gave me a good excuse to ring him and catch up, as the last I heard he was on his way to Cyprus with no intention of coming back.

I eventually got through to find that he was not only back in the country, but he had also patched up his differences with Abu Abdullah. I knew that Hajj was the first to speak to Abdullah on his road to Islam and how much their falling out had hurt both of them. I passed on Guy's request. He said he would check with Abdullah and Jamal first.

Although it should make no difference to me if they get on or not, I am pleased that they are friends again. They stood either side of Hamza throughout the protest and I always thought of them as the "Asterix and Obelix" of British Fundamental Islam when this story still had a funny side, before 7/7.

Cycling through the rain this morning I actually bumped into Hajj in the street.

Apparently he had lasted 3 weeks in Cyprus. Although he loved it he thought that the property boom had turned his country into "holiday homes" and some of the younger members of his family weren't too impressed with Cyprus in general.

"I walk down the street and no one hassles me. I could die there." he said.

We spoke a little about last nights Channel4 documentary about the "extraordinary rendition" process. I missed it, Hajj said I could come round his place and watch it.

I asked after the state of Mr. Hamza.

"They put sugar in his food. He is diabetic. We wont see him out. This Tony Blair will have his way."

I told him that I was having a "last ditch attempt" at getting this story to British TV. I called Juniper, who Christine Phillip's from BBC London had recommended I try yesterday. (She made this about us a couple of years back when I was still living in squatsville)

Hajj didn't think much of my chances. We'll see.

I tried to be a bit upbeat about Mr. Hamza's chances. I have no idea what he has or hasn't done but to hear Hajj talk about him...

"You never know. Sometimes it seems to me that judges are the only effective opposition to government in this country..."

"Abdullah Faisal got 9 years. They said he was saying "Kill all the Jews." but he was talking about the Zionist enemy. He's not a bad man. Someone punched him once and he just looked at him. He's never been in a fight in his life."

Hajj told me before that Mr. Faisal used to teach at his house. He's a whole movie on his own. How did a Cypriot hippie end up in the company of the most extreme Islamic teachers in my country?

"That's still a sentence. 9 years and he's out." I was beginning to sound a bit lame.

Before I cycled off he told me that Faisal was applying for parole next year. I don't think he ever expects to see Mr. Hamza as a free man again. I can't really imagine it myself either.

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