Culture Clash

I made these photographs in 2001, just a few weeks after the events of 9/11. I had decided to go for a walk around the town that I lived in. As I walked along the high street I came upon agroup of young Muslim men preaching; they had been there every Saturday for a few months. On this particular Saturday things were different, 9/11 had changed New York and the rest of America immeasurably, the waves caused by the terrorists actions had engulfed the world, including whereI lived. 

The group of men were doing nothing different to what they had been doing for months before, yet today all eyes were on them. On this Saturday people stopped and slowly a crowd began to form - people wanted answers. Some people were well informed and tried to engage in a reasoned debate, others, less well informed sought to attack – to impart blame; for others still, it was a spectacle, ‘Jerry Springer live.’ 

I kept quiet and took photos, moving through the crowd as the tensions rose and the debate intensified. I think these pictures have greater resonance now than at the time they were taken, they show a situation in a suburban town on the edge of London that felt the effects, albeit in a small way, of a chain of events that changed the world: then they were all about reaction, the raw emotion that 9/11 evoked. That is still there, but now aspects of the wider issues have revealed themselves; most notably the clear signs of culture clash; the more reasoned debate of the older generation as opposed to the brashness and irreverence of youth; the power of religion in what some call a time of spiritual emptiness. Yet the situation never turned violent, people on both sides of the debate expressed their views passionately, but that line was never crossed.