The Koranic verses are ringing out from a stereo on Hamza Myatt’s market stall on Barking’s pedestrianised high street. The 36-year-old ginger-haired and white-skinned Muslim convert swapped his life as a financial adviser in South Wales to proselytise for his new faith in the outer reaches of East London three weeks after the 9/11 attacks. He now spends market days noisily selling Islamic literature.
A few feet away from Mr Myatt’s stall, at a mobile snack bar selling tea and bacon butties, where customers are trying on keffiyeh scarves and checking through DVDs on Islam for children, stands a furious Derek Carlton. Pointing his finger towards Mr Myatt’s loudspeaker, now broadcasting an imam’s sermon, Mr Carlton, 46, a maintenance engineer, says:
“Yes, I will vote BNP and that is why. I have no problem with other religions. What I have a problem with is when it changes the character of your town and you’re not allowed to say anything about it. The BNP is saying what no one else will. Slowly but surely, people like me are being pushed aside in favour of outsiders. You can’t tell me it’s racist to be annoyed that my children can’t get a council house in the same place as their parents because they’ve all been handed over to Africans and Muslims?”