Stacey Dooley tries to find out why her hometown of Luton is known as the extremist capital of Britain, meeting both self-proclaimed radicals and those trying to counter them.
Browse content similar to My Hometown Fanatics. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
I'm Stacey Dooley, and this is Luton, where I was born.
I went to school here, I even worked at the airport.
And then I moved away, but now I'm coming home to find out if it's true
that Muslim extremists are taking over my town.
This programme contains some strong language.
Do I look naked?! Do I really?!
And if it is why the white right wing are on the rise here.
THEY CHANT: EDL!
I wanted to find out what's happening in my home town.
I want to track down the people I grew up with,
including this man, Stephen Lennon.
Racist? Tattoo it there!
I used to know Stephen.
Now he runs the English Defence League, a right-wing protest group
-launched in Luton to oppose what he sees as Islamic extremism.
Coming back home, I had no idea what I was letting myself in for.
You are a naive woman.
Don't you dare speak to me like that!
No, listen, this is my home town as well.
# Feeling the hate! #
Luton is notorious.
Every time you hear a story to do with extremism or terrorism,
Luton's somehow involved.
When I was growing up, I've been in Luton all my life,
I never, ever, ever heard the words "extremism", "terrorism".
It was never an issue for me.
And now, whenever you say, "I'm from Luton,"
they're the words that creep up. It's a shame.
You don't want your home town to be associated with that
kind of carry-on, but unfortunately, at the moment...it is.
'Over the last four years, I've been travelling,
'making films abroad and living away from Luton.
'Now I'm back, and I want to find out from my old friends
'why my home town's becoming so divided.'
I'm back in my roots.
'And can anything be done about it?'
I'm going to have to become a bit of a stalker,
get on the old social networking,
Facebook, going to have to get on the phone, just ring people
that I used to go to school with, used to knock about with.
So I just really want to hassle everyone I know.
The first person I want to talk to
is English Defence League leader Stephen Lennon.
I haven't seen him for six years.
I grew up in the same area as Stephen.
And I knew of him and we spoke.
You know, we weren't pally, but we knew each other.
I don't ever remember hearing him say things that I thought,
"Jeez, man, that's racist."
It's nuts to think that he's the leader of the EDL. It's crazy.
And I don't know why. It would be interesting to know why.
'I hear Stephen is in town to do a radio interview.'
I'm about to make a phone call to BBC Three Counties radio.
They're the local radio station,
they're literally just down the road, so the guy, Toby,
he's having a big discussion, a debate,
because it's the tenth anniversary for 9/11.
So I know he's got a couple of people coming in, talking about it -
how does Luton perceive Muslims now?
Is it differently before? La, la, la...
So I'm going to give him a tinkle.
'We've got a few different people coming on.
'We've got a guy called Inayat Bunglawala
'and then we've also got Stephen Lennon,
'who is the leader of the EDL.'
I'm made up that I am able to come down and have a listen.
It sounds great.
I would be lying if I said, "I don't feel nervous,
"I don't feel uneasy speaking to Stephen about what he thinks," because I do.
I know him, and that makes it tricky.
-Morning! It's Stacey Dooley. I've come to see Toby.
-'Okey-dokey, I'll let you in.'
-Lovely, Ta. Thank you.
'When I get to the radio station, the debate is in full swing.
'Stephen Lennon hasn't showed up.'
How do you think Muslims in Luton are viewed by the rest
of the community, non-Muslim?
First of all, we have to make clear that
the whole 9/11 terrorist attacks were designed to polarise community,
they were designed to entrench the "them and us" mentality.
The EDL, "We're very proper, we've got a voice,
"we've got really valid points, we want to tell you them...
"But we're not going to turn up."
-Hello! How's things? Toby, thanks for letting me have a listen.
-That's all right.
-Hello, how's things? I'm Stacey, lovely to meet you.
Hello, Jim. You all right?
I put on Facebook I'm appearing on this and
I've had numerous groups saying, "Jim, you cannot debate, share
-"a platform with EDL," but I felt it was an opportunity I could not miss.
-Yeah, yeah, yeah.
They have a democratic right to express themselves.
Provided they do it within the law, I support that for any group.
Have you met any of the people in the EDL, Jim?
Well, I met them from a distance, separated by police lines.
But I've gone to many demonstrations.
They're not a nice bunch of people.
Individually, you can talk with them,
and they have got certain concerns
which are general concerns that the general population has.
-But the way they articulate that as a group is frightening.
'No EDL at the radio station, so I see Stephen's at work.'
It's very flash, isn't it? No-one's in, I don't think. No.
It's funny, isn't it, when you think of the head of EDL,
you think of a very man's man and "grrr" and tattoos and a bald head,
and actually, he owns a tanning shop,
and he's constantly got a glow, which is quite funny!
Got to look good if you're in the media all the time!
I later find out Stephen's been arrested for taking part in a protest.
I didn't know when he'd be back,
so I decided to head to the part of town where he's hated most.
Luton is 30 miles north of London.
It's most famous for its airport and Vauxhall cars,
which was the main reason Asian immigrants came here.
In 2000, however, the factory relocated,
leaving thousands unemployed.
-I used to work for Vauxhall myself for eight years.
-Wow! Did you?
-Yes, it was quite nice. It's a shame that the company went down.
Vauxhall closing down was a real shame for Luton.
It was a dark time for Luton.
-Yes, it's a lot of jobs to go, just straightaway.
Those Asian immigrants working in the factory started
moving into one area called Bury Park
and the nearly 30,000 strong Asian community has remained here
even after Vauxhall massively scaled down in Luton.
This is Bury Park.
It's a famous part of Luton. It's where a lot
of the Muslim population lives, loads of Asian people live here.
I've not actually shopped here at all.
I've literally been here once or twice.
Drove through it and stuff, and it is really interesting,
because we are in an English town,
but you could easily mistake it for not being English.
There's loads of different mosques in Luton, is that right?
-It is, yeah.
-How many would you say?
-Roughly, we are looking at least 30 mosques in Luton area.
-That's quite a lot, no?
-It's quite a lot.
It didn't take long to witness first-hand the extremism
I'd been hearing about.
VOICE SHOUTS THROUGH MEGAPHONE AND CROWD CHANTS IN REPONSE
I wasn't sure what they were marching for,
but tensions were running high.
It turns out the demo was in response to the arrest
of local woman Mona Thwany whose husband set off a bomb in Stockholm in 2010.
I cannot believe this. I've never seen anything on this scale before.
And it breaks my heart to think that this is happening in my town.
-Hands off Muslims!
-Hands off Muslims!
Hands off Muslims!
Everyone's got a right to protest,
but I found their chanting provocative and extreme.
Police burn in hell? British police burn in hell?
No real Muslim wants anyone to burn in hell.
You can't pick and choose. You can't.
Do I look naked?! Do I really?! I don't look naked.
No-one's trying to seduce me. I'm not trying to seduce anyone.
You shouldn't judge me, how I try not to judge you.
You've just said, who am I trying to seduce? No-one!
Well, I don't judge you, because I'm above that.
Excuse me? Go and put on some clothes?! How you choose to live...
No. You choose to dress like that. I choose to dress like this.
Don't you dare speak to me like that. No!
This is my home town as well!
-All right, have a nice day, then.
-No, I'm walking. I'm walking.
-No, I can do what I want.
-If I start pointing at you...
I don't mind! Point away. Point away.
Because you're not scaring me.
I try my hardest to sympathise with people who are maybe
different to me, and there's a tiny minority that play up.
"Who are you trying to seduce?
"Go and put some clothes on, you look naked."
They have been arrested, they have been harassed by the police...
Such a shame.
..no evidence whatsoever!
Do you think it's fair that you say British police need to burn in hell?
In Islam, doesn't it say you have to respect the law of the land you live in?
I thought it did.
One of the saddest things is people have brought their kids along.
Any extreme group with extreme views should probably try
and leave their kids out of it
until they're old enough to make their own decision.
How are we ever going to get there if they keep involving kids?
Maybe I could get some sense out of Anjem Choudary
who I'd seen in the media spouting lots of extreme Islamic ideas.
Please may you tell me who this group are and why you're out today?
You find here today a number of people from Luton who are just
ordinary Muslims from the local community.
Some of them used to be part of Al-Muhajiroun
or Muslims Against Crusades.
We're here today because of the raid of two Muslim women earlier this month
and they were also strip-searched, so that is a violation of their honour.
What's the solution? If Muslim people are in the wrong
and they are committing crimes, no-one's above the law.
-If the law of the land is Islamic, we respect it.
-What if it's not Islamic?
-Then the law of the land and those who make it can go to hell.
-Oh, my God!
Allah said in the Koran, in chapter 33, verse one, he said,
"Oh, prophet, fear Allah and do not obey the disbelievers and the hypocrites."
Is David Cameron a Muslim or a disbeliever? Guys?
-I can't speak on Cameron.
-A disbeliever. You can't obey him.
So he can go to hell, as well as all the other leaders.
Do you think I should go to hell because I'm a nonbeliever?
-You're on your way to the hellfire because you're a non-Muslim.
-You can change course!
-All non-Muslims are destined for the hellfire.
-You really believe that?
You will be fuel for the hellfire. But you have an opportunity to change.
That hurts me that you think that, because you don't really know me,
and you think I am destined for hell, because I'm not a Muslim.
But you said you're not a Muslim. If you're not a Muslim,
you're destined for the hellfire unless you change.
'I find it sad that anyone would preach such a damning message.'
The only consolation is that of the 30,000 Muslims living in Luton,
there are less than 100 at this rally.
I don't even know how to sum up in words,
even to tell you how I'm feeling right now.
I feel...completely gutted. Gutted that this is happening.
In the end, we will have victory!
I do feel shocked at this protest, but surely,
this isn't a true representation of all the Muslims in Luton?
I need to track down my old Asian pals.
Time to go back to school.
You know what? I was literally late every single day.
My mum would go, "Why do you do it to yourself every morning?!"
And I'd go, "Mum! Just shut up!"
'I couldn't believe some of my old teachers were still there."
-Oh, my God!
-Oh, my God!
-How are you doing?
'They brought out some embarrassing photos.'
SHE SHRIEKS WITH LAUGHTER
This is me! Look at me there!
-Oh, wow. Alicia here.
-Are you in touch with any of them?
I m still pally with Alicia, I still speak to Alicia, but not so much.
'Sadly, my teachers didn't have any contact numbers for
'my old friends friends.'
Of course, hear the kids are all pally,
they are all very mixed - black lads, white lads, Asian lads,
they go about together, and that's nice, and I hope that continues
in their adult life, because it's not what happened with me.
Maybe it's because, you know, when I was 17, 18,
I was going out on the town, boozing,
I was a bit of a free spirit, and maybe my Asian girlfriends, well,
they didn't come out to town with me, they didn't drink.
They were very focused, very steady.
I tried to contact my old schoolmates.
VOICEMAIL: 'Please try again later.'
Even one friend who had converted to Islam.
How's things? It's Stacey Dooley.
I was getting nowhere until one old pal did agree to meet me.
Thanks ever so much! Bye now!
Right now, I'm on my way to meet a girl called Ammaarah.
We went to school together, same junior, same high school.
She is what I would class as a moderate Muslim.
She takes her faith very seriously
and she's quite into her religion,
so I think she'll be really in the know.
-Hi! How are you? How's things?
-It's been so long.
-Oh, my God, you look beautiful!
-So do you.
-You look totally happening.
Hello, love! God, Ammaarah, how's things?
-I haven't seen you in eight years.
-What's been going on?
-Work, work, work.
-I know that feeling.
-And you're all over TV.
I know! What's that all about?!
-I've got something to show you.
-What is it?
-Oh, God, Ammaarah, you're killing me!
-I look horrible.
-You haven't got your scarf on there.
-I didn't used to have one.
When did you start wearing your headscarf?
-Did you wear it at school?
-No, halfway through college.
Don't worry, I didn't get forced!
No-one will force you to do anything, Ammaarah.
I don't know how much you know about why I'm back in Luton.
You know in the press, sometimes Islam gets a rough old time,
and me, myself, I know that there's really amazing Muslim people
in this town, and I know you're totally cool, Ammaarah,
you're such a nice girl. You do take your faith seriously.
-Yeah, I do.
-Quite strict, aren't you, about your praying?
-I'm not strict.
I would say I'm moderate.
What is the difference between moderate and strict?
Strict, I would still, strict people, I would say,
they don't really freely mixed with guys and they wouldn't talk to
boys they're not related to, whereas I go out with my cousins,
I have guys that I talk to, not because I am flirting or anything,
but I talk to them on a daily basis.
At work, you're talking to people all the time.
'After recently coming across Islamic extremists,
'I wanted to know from Ammaarah whether this was the norm for Luton.'
For Luton to be seen as a place of extremism,
I think that's ridiculous.
Every single town has a few bad people or, not bad people,
but people with different views.
There's a couple of people who actually preach on the streets.
In Bury Park, there is a table and they have leaflets,
and those people get focused on.
But I've not actually stopped to see what they're about.
They're just sharing out leaflets and talking to people,
but those are the only two or three people who want to share the message.
But it's like, whoever shouts the loudest seems to get heard the most.
I don't think a lot of people know what Islam's about.
They know Islam because of what the TV says, what the media says,
and they believe it without questioning it.
It was great to see Ammaarah.
Her observation about those who shout the loudest reminded me
of another extreme group in Luton, the English Defence League.
In 2009, soldiers from a Luton regiment returning
from Afghanistan were spat on and shouted at by 12 radical Muslims.
In retaliation, non-Muslims fought back.
And out of this came the EDL...
..a group that steadily gained support across Britain
for its campaign against the Islamic movement, but many believe they are
a racist, violent organisation that recruit from football terraces.
So far, I hadn't managed to speak to its leader, Stephen Lennon,
who I used to know, but he's agreed to meet me at Stockwood Park Golf club.
While I'm waiting, other golfers are keen to give their opinion.
-The trouble with Luton is, we've lost the town.
-Do you feel like that?
-Every big city has gone in this country.
I really do. People who don't live in big cities
don't realise what is going on.
-That's not being racist, that's being factual.
These people come in, if they want to be in our country,
they should live like we do, live through our rules.
If you went to Mecca
and wanted to put a Catholic church there, you couldn't.
-It's tricky, isn't it?
I think I've been stood up.
I've been stood up and blown out. Again! I have that effect on men.
Just keep my fingers crossed.
Yet again, Stephen Lennon has failed to show,
but at least this time his number two Kev Carroll has turned up.
Some say the EDL are very aggressive so I wanted to hear
his take on that march that seemed to polarise my home town.
And we saw the placards. We ran up there
and it turned out to be the Muslim extremists.
None of them were searched.
They let them get so close to our soldiers.
They could have had C-4. One of them could have pushed the button
and took out half of that regiment. That's a joke.
Was there violence? Was there fighting?
People were trying to get them. Them Muslim extremists scum that did needed
a punch on the bloody nose or a punch on the nose to make it bloody.
Do you feel you had no alternative but to form?
That was the straw that broke the camel's back.
That was just like, you are now taking the piss.
We get demonised by the press.
Me particularly, because people think, "Oh, he seems a bit aggressive."
I'm not aggressive! I'm just passionate, you know.
Are you genuinely just standing up against militant Islam,
or are you standing up against Islam?
Islam has failed to integrate into this nation.
That is what the problem is.
Black, white, Chinese, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist -
everybody gets on like a house on fire
except for the Islamic community,
because they do not want to integrate,
they haven't integrated, and that is a fact. It's the truth!
They admit that themselves.
They live in their enclave. There are Muslim children in this town
that live in Luton town, that live in Bury Park,
and they do not speak to a non-Muslim.
You want to live in this country side by side in peace and harmony,
fine, great, but don't stand on our street corners
calling for the implementation of Sharia Law,
which is a backward, retarded,
seventh-century dogma that wants to murder homosexuals
and gay men and women, throw them from the cliffs.
They want stoning of women. It is horrific!
The EDL seem to think Muslims want to impose primitive rules
and punishments on Britain,
so I needed to find out if there was any truth in this.
I've arranged to meet a guy who I used to work with at the airport,
and he's completely in the know about Islam and Muslims.
He's a real hive of knowledge,
so I need to go and have a chat with him and ask him 1,000 questions.
-All right, how you doing?
-How are you?!
-Not bad, how you doing?
-Thank you for seeing me.
You're super in the know, so I just wondered
if you could really dumb it down for me, tell me what Sharia Law is.
Sharia law is a method of living in the world.
That's what helps you to be a Muslim every day.
For example, adultery is seen in Sharia Law
and its penalty is given as something like stoning.
And that's shocking, but it's almost fictional,
because in order for the punishment to go through, right,
one - people need to accuse you.
two - you need to have four witnesses
that don't just see a man on top of a woman, that see penetration.
The point of that is that it shows you the punishments or
the penalties for crimes are actually just huge deterrents.
They are spiritual deterrents, if you think about it.
Is that something that all Muslims want
that live here, or is it just a myth?
Well, Sharia Law, all Muslims want sharia, because personal...
-Inside them, in our personal families,
we have sharia here whether you like it or not.
Every day you see somebody pray, that is a type of them acting out sharia.
So we all have sharia within us, when you're talking about
the legal system that governs certain countries,
it doesn't apply here, because you can't just create your own community and say...
-"We want Sharia Law!"
-Exactly. "We're going to create Sharia Law
"and this person's going to do this and then we're going to give them the punishment for that."
It doesn't add up. We're not a vigilante system.
You can't take the law into your own hands.
If you live in a non-Muslim country, you have to respect that.
My friend Omar's view of Islam and its laws is much more mainstream than the EDL's.
So I wanted to find out which version typical
white families from my old part of Luton believe.
I'm off to go and meet a lad called Michael, typical Lutonian,
just to hear his views, really. Does he hang about with Muslim lads?
Is he familiar with Islam? Does he know anything about it?
Just to see his views, just to see what him and his family think.
Yeah, I think I should get quite a lot from it.
I mean, there are issues in Luton.
We always get bad press, the EDL boys have got a bad name.
Do you guys feel that in Luton, as Lutonians?
I try not to get involved,
but I know where the EDL are coming from with their views.
Some of the things they say, people will want to say them,
but they're thinking of consequences and what's going to happen to them,
so it's about time someone did stand up and say something.
I ain't going to stand up and say that, I'll tell you that now.
I keep things to myself,
but I take my hat off to some of the things they're saying.
-Have you guys ever spent any time there?
-It feels like you're abroad.
If you go to Bury Park in the early morning, it feels like you're in Spain.
You've got bright lights, you've got music on. It's different. Every other area's quiet, peaceful.
It's not somewhere I would choose to go and walked down,
-do you know what I mean?
Just keep myself to myself, keep away from their sort of thing.
-Have you spent time there, Jade?
-I'm too scared to go to Bury Park.
Do you feel, because you're not Asian, and it is predominantly
an Asian area, do you think that would make you feel out of sorts?
Do you think there is cultural divides? What do you guys think?
None of us could really tell you too much about their religion or what happens.
I don't think anyone in the room could tell you that,
we're not clued up about that sort of thing.
I really wish I knew more about the Asian community, to be honest,
I don't know enough about them. I'm embarrassed to say I don't.
I'm pleased I went to see Michael and his family.
I got quite a lot out of it. He was very honest.
He was saying there are certain things that Kev says
and the EDL say that he can sympathise with.
He gets what they're saying.
But, you know, on the other hand, he did say,
"I don't know a lot about Muslims.
"I know hardly anything about Islam."
He was the first to say that. The family did go on to say
perhaps it's worth trying to learn a bit more, and then I thought, ohh!
That was a nice thing to hear, because I thought,
maybe, if you were up for learning more and you went out
and had a chat with Muslim lads,
maybe you'd come to your own conclusion.
I'm going back into Bury Park, but this time,
I want to hear from moderate Muslims who live here
and find out what they think about the town's extremist reputation
and if there is any truth in what the EDL say about Islam.
Where better place to start than Luton's oldest and largest mosque, the Central Mosque?
This is my first time I'll have ever visited a mosque,
so I'm really quite up for it.
The guys have asked me to cover my head,
so I've just put my scarf around, so I hope it looks OK.
I hope they don't go, "What have you got on your head?"
-Thank you, thank you very much.
-This is the main prayer hall of the mosque.
-Wow. My God.
I've never been anywhere like this before. It's very pretty.
It's very glam with all the lights and colour.
If you have a look over there, you can see one of the names of God.
That one, that particular one says "Ya Salamu" in Arabic.
I feel like I've heard that word.
Do sometimes Muslims say "salam" to each other?
-That's right, when we greet each other.
We say "salam" and that also means "peace be upon you".
-It's a good reminder for this day and age.
It's a reminder that if you do believe in God, you should be peaceful.
There were some Muslim lads, weren't there, a handful of Muslim lads
with posters and banners, when the soldiers were marching through.
They couldn't have been Muslims,
because they wouldn't have done that, is that right?
-No, I would say...
-Do you know what I mean? Would they...
Because if they are going there to kick off and cause trouble,
that makes them as bad as...
You have different groups in Islam. We can only speak for ourself.
OK, so would they be a different group?
They are most likely a different group to us.
Oh, I understand. So they wouldn't worship here?
-No, they wouldn't.
-We don't have radical worshippers in this mosque.
-No. We have nice ones in this mosque.
'I wanted to find out more, so the men took the stairs to meet the girls.'
-This is the women's area.
-Hi! Oh! I'm with the girls.
There's no place for terrorism in Islam. It's against Islam.
If you kill one innocent person, you kill the whole of humanity, so I don't know where they...
They just get lines from the Koran and they twist it
and they make their own interpretation out of it,
so they say, "Oh, jihad, I'm going to go on the train and commit jihad."
That's not correct. Jihad is only on a battlefield.
9/11, no, that is totally against Islam,
-because you have killed the whole of humanity.
-To quote my cousin,
she says once you become a terrorist, you are no longer a Muslim,
because there's nothing in Islam about terrorism.
Some people that maybe aren't pally with Muslims
or aren't familiar with Islam look at one Muslim and think,
"Right, that's how everything single Muslim is in the whole of Luton."
Does it upset you that people think,
"Oh, I've got the measure of you, I know what you're like"?
You see one colour, and you think...
-"Everyone's the same."
-No, we're not the same.
"They're all the same, they all think the same."
And I think that is it, isn't it? Do you know the EDL? How you know about them?
They've always threatened to come to Bury Park - we live in Bury Park -
-to come and beat the people or something.
-Are you scared of the EDL?
-They're just a bunch of idiots, really.
I think it's football hooligans who have been banned from going to
matches and they've just thought of something else
to hate for no reason.
I think that's a shame, if people don't take the time to go
and knock about with different people
who aren't exactly the same as themselves, that's where issues...
-Do you know what I mean?
People are afraid of what they don't know,
and they are too ignorant to actually go and do something about knowing.
To me, it seems like quite a peaceful religion,
which is why it's so frustrating to think that a few Muslims
ruin it for the rest of the Muslims here in Luton.
I feel completely overwhelmed.
I feel like I've learnt loads today
and I'm made up that I went to the Central Mosque.
It's so different to everything that I'm used to in Luton.
It's like being in a different town.
It's like not being in my town.
It's shown me how easy it is
for different crowds to get things mixed up
and to make assumptions and to say things
when they're not sure that's even true,
because it is so complex and it is so complicated.
I'm starting to understand how things are said
that maybe aren't accurate.
The problem with Luton is, although the Central Mosque preaches peace,
just down the road, it's a very different story.
I mean, you know, it says here, "Democracy," and then, it's got
like a sketch of a hand with blood pouring down it, which is quite out there, really.
And, you know, some of the bullet points are quite extreme.
You know, "Democracy destroys life. Democracy pollutes the mind."
They're quite anti-government, quite anti-Britain, you know,
I think, from this literature,
they're trying to say the government are corrupting us
and democracy's a bad thing and everything's awful at the minute.
It's just so out there, like, "sex objects" -
that's why people get raped, because of democracy. What?
'Also on the same high street was Saiful Islam.
'He used to be a member of Al-Muhajiroun,
'a now-banned organisation responsible for terrorist atrocities
'abroad and in the UK. I needed to talk to him.'
-Are you happy to have a chat, whenever you're ready?
-What it is...
-If you speak to my colleague first, cos I...?
-Which one? Sure, yeah.
-Them guys there.
-Them two there.
-OK. How long until you're free?
-I've just got something to sort out.
-Like an hour, half an hour?
I'm not sure, but as soon as I finish, I'll come over.
OK, thank you.
-Saiful's asked me to ask when you're ready to chat.
-We could do the interview over there.
Um, do you think Saiful will chat as well? He said he's busy, but...
If he's busy, he's busy, innnit. I can't say much about that.
'I couldn't get Saiful, but maybe I could find out
'from these two whether they were preaching extreme views.'
-What's your name?
-I'm Albu Farouk.
-Nice to meet you.
-We do not handshake with opposite gender.
-In Islam, we have regulations.
So we're not going to break these regulations for this society's rules and customs, so obviously,
we do not dishonour or degrade honour a woman in Islam.
And, like in this society, woman is treated as a sex object
and make them uncover and all of that,
-which is contradictory to Islam altogether.
-So, do you...?
You're saying you think women in this country are degraded?
Absolutely. The proof of it is your billboards, advertising, buses.
In order to sell a Snickers bar, you need to strip a woman naked. Sell a car, strip a woman naked.
-You know, we can see how women are humiliated at the moment.
-That's the reality.
-What about fragrances,
with half-naked men in just a pair of swimming trunks?
-Do you shake men's hands?
-It shows you are both oppressing the men and the women in this society.
If you believe that I, as a Muslim, believe homosexuality is a sin, then I'm an extremist.
If you believe that I, as a Muslim, don't believe in the idea of democracy
or in freedom or secularism, indeed I am an extremist, if you perceive that.
These are our Islamic core beliefs.
Islam is the answer to all way... any problem that people are facing.
Capitalism, your democracy, is a failure in this society.
Allow me to explain it - that's why we come out to discuss and explain it.
You look for alternatives, but don't know what. You vilified Islam
to the level that that is the real solution which you cannot perceive.
Let me ask you something. I'm not Al-Qaeda?
I'm not with the camp of the Mujahedeen, OK?
-You're not with Al-Muhajiroun?
-Hang on, if I say to you
I support or I agree with Al-Qaeda?
if I say that, if I say that, yeah, would I be arrested?
-Yes or no?
-Are you with Al-Qaeda?
-Because it's illegal!
-You can't do that in this country.
-Do you agree with Al-Qaeda?
It's illegal, you can't do that, do you understand?
-Why is that? Hang on.
-You need to understand something, yeah.
You can easily point that question to the Muslim,
but when the Muslim points it back to you, you can't handle it.
-What do you mean?
-When the Muslim says your soldiers have been committing atrocities.
If you vote for the government sending the troops,
if you pat your soldiers on the back, you're as guilty as them.
You're edging them on, continuing telling them, motivating them.
Muslims will see you motivating your troops to kill us! How dare you!
-Those soldiers, terrorists, baby killers, butchers, they need to be brought home.
-Those rapists need to be brought home.
-Tell your butchers of Basra to come home.
-Do you know what?
-< WOMAN: Do you vote?
-Tell baby killers to come home.
Islam is the way for revival. It is just a matter of time for us
to pass that message out to the people
and they will wake up and soon, you will find that the sleeping giants,
which is the Muslim, they will awake and Islam will be dominant.
-..Muslim country, Iraq, Afghanistan and occupation, yes or no?
-I don't know.
-I don't know enough...
-You are a naive woman.
-I'm not naive.
-You are one naive women.
-Hang on a second!
'We are just opposite ends of the spectrum,'
so that everything they say, and everything I say,
we're never, ever going to agree and that scares me and makes me sad,
because that makes me feel like we're always going to have issues in Luton
and, you know, how is someone like me and someone like them
ever going to live in harmony? It's never going to happen.
I don't know if it's extreme people, themselves,
go as far as you could go...
you know, sort of terrorism and acts of violence.
I don't know if they themselves would do it,
but I suspect them kinds of people would...
encourage others and applaud others
that maybe did think about taking that route, you know, pushing that one step further
and that's when terrorists start coming into the equation and bombs.
I wanted to find out how influential radical preaching could be.
I went back to the Central Mosque to speak to teacher Majib,
who had first-hand experience
of dealing with the extremist preachers of Bury Park.
-How far do you think they would go? They seem pretty sort of driven.
-The most I've heard is,
"Go, we'll send you to Iraq to fight the American soldiers and stuff," but it's never happened.
They wouldn't do it themselves, but would they encourage others to?
They'd encourage others to do it, but they'd never do themselves, never.
-They're too afraid.
The thing is, when they say that, "There's a holy war out there and you should fight it,"
-the question is, "Why don't you go?" They've got no answer.
-I was just going to say that.
It's interesting that they're happy to encourage everyone else
-to go off and do it, but not happy to go themselves.
-It's cowardly, like cowardish behaviour.
But them, themselves, have every excuse to stay.
At one point, I did say to one of them, "Look, you're speaking to me,"
and I said to them, "Hold on, you go,
-"you go to fight and I promise to do what you're doing."
-What did he say?
He goes, "No, brother, I've got a wife and kids at home."
So it's all right for you to go, but they're not coming?
'Majib is in no doubt that the message is very dangerous.'
When they say messages, they say some key points that maybe, as a Muslim, people will think, "They're right."
-You know, when they said, "Look, stop the war in Iraq,"
it was as if they're the biggest voice saying that.
So, obviously, as a Muslim, I don't want there to be
-a war in Iraq or Afghanistan, I'd say hands up.
But young kids seeing that on telly made them think,
"Nobody else is talking. They must be right."
It saddens me that young, vulnerable Lutonians are being groomed
by the radicals and I'm keen to find out
what kinds of person would be attracted to their message.
I've arranged to go meet a guy called Mugsy. I'm on my way now.
He is working in a group called Diverse FM,
who are there, I think, to help kids who could maybe be radicalised or taken into naughty groups.
'So yeah, really up for it.
'This group is at the sharp end of helping troubled Lutonian youth,
'including young Muslims susceptible to extremist views.
'Mugsy told me about one of his students, Jabed,
'who has strong unions about British troops abroad.'
Do you believe, Jabed, that the war is a war on Islam?
-Do you really believe that?
-Yeah, I believe that.
-You do? Wow.
Countries like the USA, the UK and stuff like that,
they are not letting any other country
run the way the people of the country want the country to be run.
-Instead, they're going there, they're taking over forcefully
and they're putting their own puppets there to run the country.
That upsets me that you think that, because I, obviously, can't talk on behalf of the government,
but I can speak as a white non-Muslim that, um,
me and many, many, many people I know that aren't Muslims
would never want Muslims to feel like the war is on Islam.
My personal view, I think, the war has got to be on terrorism and extremism.
'His views sounded very similar to those
'I'd heard on the streets of Bury Park -
'the message from those ex-members of the Al-Muhajiroun or the AMs.
'Jabed had found himself drawn to them.'
Like, the AMs, I felt like close to them.
I went and thought I'd try to become full-time with them.
'Jabed's no longer with the AMs, but speaking to him,
'it became clear the types of people this group target.'
-My mum passed away when I was 14.
And I've got my dad and I've got six older brothers, two older sisters.
My elder sister and her two kids, she's living with us,
-cos her husband's in prison at the moment.
-Her husband's in prison?
-What's he in prison for?
-Wow! How long's he been inside for?
-It's been about a year now.
RAP: When will there be no enemy and we all be friends?
When will the streets we walk be full of peace?
Jabed could've been a prime candidate to head down the road of extremism,
but Diverse intervened, offering him a new focus with his music.
'Honest, I hope Jabed gets it together, because...'
I can honestly, I can just see how he could...go one way or the other.
And I'd be gutted... I'd be sad if it went the wrong way.
I feel like Mugsy's spot on, I feel like he was the one
who grabbed him off Bury Park and brought him into Diverse.
Thank God we've got people like Mugsy.
'Mugsy and youth worker Abdul offered to show me around their catchment area
'and I was instantly reminded how important their work is.'
This is Argyle Avenue.
Argyle Avenue has been in the news, it's been in the press loads and loads and loads.
-That's where the Stockholm bomber and his wife lived?
-That's right, they lived on this road.
-On this road? What one was it, do you know which house it was?
-I think it was number 15.
-That would've been the home of the Stockholm bomber and his wife?
'But the guys reassured me that people like the Stockholm bomber are a misguided few.'
I think the only issue with Luton is we have got extreme groups.
-Yes, but that's just a minority.
They don't really represent the majority of the people in Luton.
-Nice to meet you.
-Really nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you.
-So what made you come to this road?
-Getting myself in trouble following Mugsy.
-But no, I haven't spent a great deal of time in Bury Park...
-..which is mad.
-I think I've met you somewhere before.
-Good chat-up line! >
-Probably in a club, yeah.
-Are you a Muslim lad?
-I'm a Muslim.
-What are you doing in a nightclub?
-Do you know what, I was only joking with you.
-He knows it all.
With it being a mosque the other side!
"All I do is go to the mosque, I don't go to nightclubs and speak to girls."
-What do you think of Luton so far?
-Yes, what do you think?
I've got a call at the moment, I'm really busy, I'll call you back.
-Are you on the phone to that boy...
-..two metres down the road?
-Tell me about Luton.
-I was born here. Brilliant!
-And I think it's the safest.
-I'm being honest here.
-I think Luton is the most like...
Do you know what? You do get like a few boys in the alleyway smoking their spliff, whatever.
-But that's normal!
-MOBILE PHONE RINGS
-But, um, at the end of the day...
-Why have you got two phones?
-That's my mum's.
-One's for girls, one for family.
-Tell me about it. That's the one.
-Do you have a boyfriend?
-I don't. Do you have a girlfriend?
-Do you want to take my number and we could go out?
-Yeah, take my number!
-I'll take you...
-Take me to, um...
-My mum's looking out the window.
-Will you be in trouble for speaking to a non-Muslim white girl?
-Tell me about it.
That's why you leave your number to him. When I see him later, I will take it off him.
'The community vibe is so strong here and I love it,
'but then, I hear something that reminds me
'how diverse this part of my town is becoming.'
CALL TO PRAYER
-What's that noise?
-That's the adhan. That's for the prayer time, the prayers coming in.
-The third prayer of the day.
-It's the Central Mosque.
I have never, in the whole time I've lived here, never heard the call to prayer in Luton.
That's another interesting thing, isn't it? I wonder how
the old, white working class folk, I wonder how they feel about listening to the call to prayer.
-No-one has actually complained.
-Actually, it's quite good.
-There's a feeling that you're living like in a Muslim country in a way sort of thing.
That's a big statement, "It's like living in a Muslim country."
-Do you feel that is like living in a Muslim country in Bury Park?
You've got all the shops and all the Muslims here. Sometimes,
there are days that I won't see a white person in Bury Park.
-You won't see a white person?
-Yeah, in my day, sort of thing.
'And just around the corner, I come face-to-face
'with one of the sides of Islam that most upset people like the EDL.'
I was walking down this road and met a couple of girls
in full-on burqa. They were sweet and went, "Stacey, we watch all your programmes!
"Can we have a picture?" They took their little burqas off
and it was really sweet and they're coming to speak to us now!
Nice to see you again! I'm made up I bumped into you,
because I think there can sometimes be maybe a misconception,
so it'd be nice to hear what you girls reckon,
but yeah, we'll go and have a tea. Will we go this way?
So, talk me through the niqab? Cos I'm obviously totally out of the loop niqab-wise.
It's part of our religion. Girls aren't supposed to be mixing with boys.
-And this is like...
-..meant as a protection in a way.
There are some maybe people in Luton and England,
"Oh, you know, girls shouldn't wear niqabs or burqas,
because we can't see their face, can't see their expressions.
Can you sympathise with what they say?
Normally, how they see girls in town, they just want it to stay like that, they are not really used to it,
so I can get them in that case, but then again, it is our choice.
Do you feel like, sometimes, people who aren't Muslim
judge you without even talking to you?
-They just like give you dirty looks.
-Does it go that far?
-Do they give you dirty looks?
-Yes. Sometimes they even say stuff.
When we were in Milton Keynes shopping and another girl was like,
-"Oh, I don't want to touch her, she's Muslim."
'I wanted to experience what living in Luton was like for these girls,
'so, the next day, they agreed to help me see the town through their eyes.'
Is there any room at the inn?
Yeah, I can see like that. I look so different, don't I?!
'We headed for the town centre.'
This is my first ever outing in my niqab.
-'Oh, my God, I wonder how people are going to act towards me.
'I'm quite excited to find out.
'I better not get any lip, or else I'll be like, "What did you say?"'
Oh, my gosh, they're looking back at us as well.
I do feel so different in this, I feel like people...
-Stare at you more.
-They're kind of staring a little bit.
-Oh, my God, my heart's pounding.
-It's all right, don't be scared.
-That man's just told me to take my mask off.
-That man over there's just told me to take my mask off.
-I would never, ever, ever dream of saying anything like that to anyone, like I genuinely wouldn't.
Why do people think they can dictate what you wear?
I mean, how does it make you feel when people say stuff like that?
-I'm scared of them.
-Oh, don't be scared!
You'll get no lip when you're with me,
I'll give 'em a knuckle sandwich. It's not good, though.
It's a shame, it's a shame that he's acted like that.
'My God. Do you know what?
'And I'm not just saying this to be dramatic,
'I actually felt really uncomfy.'
The thing is, in Bury Park, I feel totally comfy.
I even forgot I had it on at one point and I stepped out of Bury Park
and I came down the town and automatically felt really different.
I knew you'd get a few stares and people aren't evil and racist cos they stare,
but I didn't think I'd get that kind of nonsense off people.
"Take your mask off"? It probably would be easier, wouldn't it, to just stay in Bury Park!
'I was keen to make one last attempt to get hold of the head of the EDL.'
'When you have finished, hang up or press 1 to change your message.'
-'Then, finally, a break.'
'Stephen has agreed to meet me in a town centre hotel.'
You love Luton, you're really passionate about it. Do you feel like you're doing Luton proud?
-I think, yeah...
-Do you feel like the EDL is a good thing for Luton?
I think it is, yeah, because before the EDL, all Luton was known as
was as the hotbed of militant Islam
and all these bombers, extremists and terrorist plans.
Now it's known as the fight back against them.
Do you feel like your voice is
representative of white working-class folk?
Do you think you speak on behalf of a great deal of Lutonians?
We don't feel part of the fabric that makes this town any more,
because we've been pushed out.
I'll be the first, I say it all the time, we have to point out...
-You have to be balanced.
-There are some great Muslims, yeah.
That's nice to hear, cos I've never heard you say that.
-I say it in every interview...
-..but they don't play it. You won't.
No, but we're trying to get to speak to you, cos I do know you
and I don't think you're this evil moron.
-You're not an angel by any stretch of the imagination.
-And that's what I always say.
I'm not an angel, I don't claim to be sitting polishing my halo,
I'm a normal lad who's from Luton and I love Luton
and I want what's best for Luton and, I'm sorry,
but the complete spread of Islamism across this town is not good for it.
Muslims who live in Luton, if they want to live their life
-by following Sharia Law, then that's their business and right...
..cos it's their religion. You can't dictate to everyone in Luton,
-"You should live like this."
-So we should allow them to start cutting off hands and limbs?
-No, I'm not saying that!
-So where do you stop, then? Sharia Law?
No, it's not good for this country. I don't think we need Sharia Law in this country.
-I'm not for Sharia Law.
-What about Muslim women...?
-But if they want to live like that, leave them to it.
If they want Sharia Law, get on a plane to where they've come from and have Sharia Law.
-What about the ones born here?
-Well, why do they want Sharia Law?
A lot of their parents come here to escape Sharia Law.
'I've persuaded Stephen to walk through Luton with me.'
Will I get my head kicked in knocking about with you in town?!
-I'll get my own head kicked in.
How often do you walk about Luton?
I walk into town every day. I just don't do it with my missus or kids.
I haven't done it with my missus or kids for two years.
I could be driving in my car and have cars full of Muslim young lads
pulling up and trying to ram me off the road.
And I've got 13 stitches just walking over there. It ain't been good.
It hasn't been good for my wife and she disagrees with it.
She doesn't agree with what the EDL stands for and neither do her family.
-They certainly don't.
-Crazy to think she doesn't agree with the EDL,
but she's married to the leader of the EDL.
I wasn't the leader of the EDL when she met me, you know.
The police told her she must leave Luton for the foreseeable future,
cos there'd be an immediate attempt on her life. Islam rules with fear and intimidation,
so if we allow it to intimidate us, then, yeah, I'll stop the EDL
and close the EDL down, then they get what they want, get a free run.
-How do you feel about this lady?
-That is categorically wrong?
-I don't feel anything towards her, she's just a young lady, but that's wrong.
Imagine every single women wore that,
like in Saudi? What would your day be like?
There'd be no communication, no integration. It's just wrong.
-The burqa and niqab's a tricky situation.
-No, just wrong.
-cos you have to let people dress how they want to dress.
-So I could walk round with a balaclava?
I'd happily, the same as in France, I would happily even ban balaclavas and burqas.
Ban everyone from face coverings in public. If you're walking along here,
you shouldn't be able to cover your face, for security issues.
But because... Because I'm white and I'm a woman, and I'm not a Muslim.
-They won't talk to you.
-They won't talk to me.
-Yeah, but that's how they feel, innit? Look, he stopped.
-He stopped once he heard you say Muslim.
-Are you all right?
Do you want to speak to us?
-No, I didn't say that, I said one Muslim.
-Now he's having a go at you.
One Muslim did refuse to speak to me.
-As I said, don't talk about Islam.
-Can I just say...? ..Hang on. No, hang on!
He don't like you talking about Muslims. That's what he just heard.
-Let's just talk like adults.
-But the problem was you spoke about Muslims.
-Do you agree with Sharia Law?
-You agree 100%?
-You agree in cutting off of hands?
-Only if absolutely necessary.
So you agree in older men sleeping with younger children,
having sexual intercourse. Nine years old? 10 years old?
That's the Sharia Law, bruv, 11 years old. That's Sharia Law.
That's Sharia Law. If the woman is bleeding...
No, if the woman's bleeding, she's 11, you can have sex with her.
But is your goal in modern Britain to emulate the Prophet Muhammad?
Precisely, there you go.
I want peace, but we haven't got it, bruv! If all Muslims think like you
and want Sharia Law, this is not going to work.
You can be a nice bloke and agree.
-When he wants Sharia Law, for me, that's the end of the conversation.
-You can't close your ears!
-You can't close your ears.
-Where are you going to go?
It's his belief, but that's never going to work.
You'd walk away saying, "He was a nice, moderate Muslim."
-He still wants Sharia Law!
-He's not imposing it on anyone...
-He will when there's enough of them!
Why do I, bruv?
Don't video him.
-Are you coming back now?
-I have, bruv. I don't need to read...
Mate, anyone who cuts off people's hands, I disagree with.
'Soon, several young men were following us
'and I was beginning to feel on edge.'
I'm not doing myself any favours walking round town with you.
You just tell me if anyone's coming behind me.
'I was keen to find out what the two young lads really thought of Stephen.'
-You've got an issue with him, what is that issue?
-We've got no issue.
You can't... If someone does something wrong in the community,
-you can't blame the whole community.
-Yeah, and that's completely correct.
-He can't turn around and say all Muslims are terrorists...
-..or extremists, blah, blah, blah.
Bruv, you say Islam teaches extremist,
Islam teaches this, Islam teaches that. Why don't you...?
Me and you get into contact, I'll get you an English Koran,
we'll check together and read through it and you tell me where it says Islam is extremist,
Islam is this, Islam is that. Bruv, we're a religion of peace.
A Christian saying fucked-up shit wouldn't be my brother!
But still, if he's a believer, if he believes in the shahada, he's brother, a Muslim brother.
'Tensions rise as more and more people want to have their say with Stephen.'
I'm a pharmacist and also I'm a Muslim as well,
a liberated woman, so what kind of opinions do you have about Islam?
-I have no opinions against yourself, all right.
-I've never said anything against Muslims.
-I have certain problems with certain things in Islam.
I've a problem with Al-Muhajiroun, that no-one from Bury Park deals with them.
-Muslims in general...
-Muslims ain't extremists! I said Al-Muhajiroun!
I have no knowledge about groups, they could be anybody!
-Muslims actually denied Jesus.
-How can you deny...?!
No, they made him a lesser man. PEOPLE SHOUT
-Hang on a second!
-They did! They made him a lesser man.
'It was clear it was going to take more than a walk through town
'to bring the two sides together.'
As Lutonians, you come into Luton, you start talking about this topic,
every single person has a strong opinion
and everyone feels passionate about what they're saying, so that's...
It's just finding a way of people listening to other people.
That's what you need to do.
'Three weeks ago, my journey began in Bury Park,
'wrestling with Islamic extremists. And since then, I've heard
'many different opinions, from reasonable to radical.
'Luton is divided, but I think there is a way we can start to overcome this.'
If we knock about together, and even think different views,
if you're willing to try and understand the other point of view,
I think that's always important, especially in a town like Luton.
We have got problems, there are issues.
There are extremists in Luton, but it's a tiny, tiny minority.
But talking about it and raising the subject
and realising there's other sides than just yours is worth doing.
We'll never, ever get anywhere or get closer to solving anything
unless we all communicate, we all speak to one another
Ignorance is what causes extremism.
Ignorance is what causes
so many problems that are here today in Luton.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Stacey Dooley investigates what is going on in her hometown of Luton and finds out why it is known as the extremist capital of Britain.
Stacey has spent her whole life in Luton. Media commentators all have their theories about what is happening there, but Stacey is uniquely placed to tell the story through the generation she grew up with - the people who are now shaping one of the most controversial towns in Britain.
Stacey meets friends - some wearing veils and others who are fully fledged EDL supporters. She goes to the heart of the Muslim community, dominated by one of the country's most extreme Muslim groups, meeting both self-proclaimed radicals and those trying to counter them.
Is it all hype? Or is 'L-town' such a pick-and-mix of culture that extremists are attracted here like no other town in Britain?