“My Hometown Fanatics”: A film about Muslims and Luton

I became aware of this video from a tw**t by Richard Dawkins sent me by reader Merilee. Clearly Richard thought it was a very important film, so I watched it.

Screen shot 2015-09-05 at 7.47.25 PM

At only 28, Stacey Dooley has a substantive record of investigative journalism, and in this film wanted to profile two groups that she considered “extremists”: the radical Muslims of Luton and the members of the right wing “English Defense League” (EDL) who protest Islamists’ attempt to impose their values on British society. The film is not new; it was posted on YouTube in May, 2013 and was broadcast by the BBC a year before that. It’s thus about 3½ years old, though I doubt it’s out of date.

Here are the YouTube notes.

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?

Stacey comes across a group of Muslim Extremists in Luton who are protesting against the arrest of local woman and wife of the Stokholm bomber, Mona Thorney. Whilst following the protest Stacey is confronted by a Muslim woman and experiences first-hand the views held by these extremist groups.

Stacey Dooley (born 9 March 1987) is a British television personality. She rose to fame in 2009 after appearing in a number of BBC Three documentaries highlighting child labour issues in developing countries.

My Hometown Fanatics was broadcast on BBC Three on 20 February 2012.

Before you invest 50 minutes in watching this, I want to note that I didn’t much like the film, nor do I understand why Richard saw it as important. Dooley is self-congratulatory and annoying, it is a “feel-good” film (“why can’t we all just get along?”) rather than a substantive piece of journalism, and, in the end, Dooley’s failure to understand why the EDL and the radical Islamists can’t just settle their problems by a respectful discussion shows that she has no idea what the real conflict is all about.

My guess why Richard thought this film was important was because of its graphic portrayal of the radical Islamist views, but it could have also been because of Dooley’s claim that most Muslims in Luton, like several shown in the film, are peaceful and not opposed to living by the laws of England. But I’ll let him weigh in below if he chooses.

23 Comments

  1. Diana MacPherson
    Posted September 6, 2015 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    I too suspect Richard Dawkins wants us to watch the film to see the radical nature of Muslims and their rejection of English law and society as well as the more moderate Muslims who accept English law and society.

    Although Stacey Dooley may come off as annoying to some, she probably does represent a large group of people who want to know what the heck is going on and it was clear that many non Muslim English haven’t interacted with more moderate Muslims as much as other minorities, so she provides that insight.

    • Dermot C
      Posted September 6, 2015 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      Well, if you were being generous, you’d have to say context is everything. BBC3? A TV channel dedicated to the youth market, your Honour. I could only work up the energy to skim this.

      For a taste of more serious discussion, here are Nick Cohen (with wine) and Maajid Nawaz (with water) of this parish having a pleasant North London 10-minute tête-à-tête on the Left and Islam from May.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zN9k_kL0dRQ

      Diana, you might be interested in this latest book. Nick Cohen’s review of Tom Holland’s most recent, ‘Dynasty’ on the Julio-Claudians. Trigger warning: Holland gives your hero Augustus a kicking!

      theguardian.com/books/2015/sep/06/dynasty-house-of-caesar-tom-holland-book-review-nick-cohen

      Hope they don’t embed. x

      • bonetired
        Posted September 6, 2015 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        The Sunday Times review ( paywall ) described Augustus as a “honey-tongued hypocrite”!

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted September 6, 2015 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        Oh I know what Augustus was. It’s why I like him. He managed to wield a powerful propaganda machine to his advantage and persuade Caesar’s men to come along with him. He ruthlessly hunted down an heir to the throne and killed him off (Caesar’s some by Cleopatra) and he seemed to persuade powerful men to support him – Agrippa fought his battles for him. He had ever young statues of himself all over even though he was, in reality aging and often sick.

        Most likely, Augustus was a sociopath and it allowed him to survive and thrive in Ancient Rome.

  2. Merilee
    Posted September 6, 2015 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    soob
    Need to watch the last 20 minutes of it now. It’s not an easy “watch” in any sense. It, so far, has boiled my blood, and rattled my nerves…

  3. Posted September 6, 2015 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    sub

  4. Carlos del Solar
    Posted September 6, 2015 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    2 1/3 years old

  5. Randy Schenck
    Posted September 6, 2015 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Interesting piece but I’m still not certain what the objective of the documentary is suppose to be. Maybe to get extremist and moderate opinion on the subject in Luton, or just to get all sides or as many as possible on the issue?

    The difficulty in this film also is with Stacey Dooley, who appears to be a journalist at times but also an activist herself, becoming part of the story. Just the facts please because you are confusing the viewer. You cannot be both so don’t pretend to be a journalist unless that is what you are.

    I don’t think we will see her appearing on Frontline anytime soon.

  6. bonetired
    Posted September 6, 2015 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Since then, at least 12 members of the same family have left Luton to join IS.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/04/missing-uk-mannan-family-feel-safe-after-joining-isis-statement

    Those are the ones we know about

  7. pk
    Posted September 6, 2015 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Sweden: youtu.be/69bE-7APERA

    As someone who moved to the West from the third-world myself, I cannot understand what it is that motivates people to recreate the very conditions that they left willingly. The followers of Islam appear to be the worst of the lot.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 7, 2015 at 1:59 am | Permalink

      “As someone who moved to the West from the third-world myself, I cannot understand what it is that motivates people to recreate the very conditions that they left willingly.”

      That is the most confounding part!

      Though the culture they come from is extremely patriarchal, and the men with such power are naturally loathe to lose it.

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 7, 2015 at 2:00 am | Permalink

        *loath!*

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 6, 2015 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    I watched it, too, and wasn’t all that impressed — though I wouldn’t exactly tell her to hang down your head and cry, Stacey Dooley.

    If the exercised Muslims from her hometown ever start lootin’ in Luton, one can only hope that the Islamic student associations follow suit at Ball State U. Would do ’em all some good, no?

  9. Posted September 7, 2015 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    I used to live in Luton, for those of you who have never heard of the place it’s about 30 miles/60 Kilometers north of London. It’s home to Luton Airport where I worked for 16 years and during that time I saw the decline of Local Industry. Electrolux, Chrysler Motors, Vauxhall Motors all relocated along with many other industries such as Straw Hat making (the Police Officers in the 1950’s used to wear helmets made from straw). At the same time, my wife was an infant schoolteacher. I remember one year that I helped her to prepare her school for the new intake of children and my task was to clean up the cloakroom. Each peg on the cloak rack had a stick-on label with the child’s name written on it. I peeled off Mohammed Shezad, Said Khan, Bejana Begum, to reveal Pritti Mistri, Anand Singh and then on to Patrick Shaugnassy and finally David Drinkwater. There were a couple of layers where some strong glue had been used and the layer wouldn’t separate, but I think I got back to the 1950’s at least. Human migration in a 1/4 inch thick name tag! Luton attracted immigrants because there was industry there and a chance of a better life and whole extended families would move into the low cost housing that once accommodated the Straw Platters and Electrolux workers. Now, with the decline of the manufacturing sector in UK there is less chance of advancement and the communities of Muslim immigrants turn in on themselves and become more intense in their own beliefs, aided by travelling Imams who preach the strict Salafist doctrine. Thus the community is beginning to turn on itself with schisms developing between the Shia and Sunni elements. There is a third force here and that is of the youth of the communities who barely understand the teaching of the Imams but are fired by the thought of Jihad because they perceive in their own lives that they are a disadvantaged minority, without employment and without power, but with access to the internet they reinforce their own beliefs and that concept of Worldwide Jihad is beguiling!

    • Ian Clark
      Posted September 7, 2015 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for that – puts things in context.

    • Merilee
      Posted September 7, 2015 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for filling us in on Luton, tja. The future does not sound very promising there.

  10. Jimbo
    Posted September 7, 2015 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    This Monty Python sketch finally makes sense to me…

  11. aljones909
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    “it could have also been because of Dooley’s claim that most Muslims in Luton, like several shown in the film, are peaceful and not opposed to living by the laws of England”
    I expect Dawkins was highlighting the extremist views of many muslims in the UK. The London 7/7 tube bombings were carried out by home-grown jihadis. 50 people killed and 700 injured.

    A 2005 poll of UK muslims taken after the bombings:

    6% (100,00 people) fully supported the bombings.

    25% had some sympathy with the feelings and motives of the suicide bombers

    56% said they can understand why some people might want to behave in this way

    32% agreed with “Western society is decadent and immoral and that Muslims should seek to bring it to an end”.

    • Merilee
      Posted September 8, 2015 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      Go back to your eastern society then (never thought I’d say something like this…)

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 10, 2015 at 4:25 am | Permalink

        + 1

        While I realize the majority of current migrants are economic and/or persecution refugees, there is also an imperialistic imperative to Islam the West had better take note of.

  12. marvol19
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    “Dooley is self-congratulatory and annoying, it is a “feel-good” film (“why can’t we all just get along?”) rather than a substantive piece of journalism, and, in the end, Dooley’s failure to understand why the EDL and the radical Islamists can’t just settle their problems by a respectful discussion shows that she has no idea what the real conflict is all about.”

    Having seen several of Dooley’s “documentaries” I have to say that you hit the nail on the head regarding the assessment of her qualities. She does this pretty much in all of her shows.
    It got to the point that we were hatewatching her shows. “Oh this is SO terrible! I’ve just seen something that is SO BAD!” Brrrr.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 8, 2015 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      That was certainly my response–glad to know I’m not just some old curmudgeon… 😀

      If you can get away from her personality, she did seem to put together a fairly compelling variety and juxtaposition of scenes & other personalities. Perhaps being–and knowing you’re–the cute, pert type is a liability.

  13. Posted September 9, 2015 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    I watched this film when it first came out, and I’m afraid didn’t watch it again before making the tweet that caught Jerry’s attention. It made an enormous impression on me when I watched it. I retain no memory of its being a feelgood film at all. All I remember is my shock at the misogynistic, xenophobic, bigoted attitudes of many of the Muslims on the parade, and the young woman’s grief at what had come to pass in her home town. If there were feelgood aspects to the film, they evaded my attention and my memory. Sorry.


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