By Danish Siddiqui
London to me, as a photographer, is a uniquely diverse place to capture on camera in terms of its people and their stories. It amalgamates a lot of complexities that make for compelling narratives.
A couple months back I went to London from Mumbai as part of a short assignment, to get some experience out of my usual domain. I worked closely with the Reuters UK team and specifically Andrew Winning on the production of a multimedia piece that would tell the story of young Muslim converts in London.
In an age where there is a lot of skepticism around Islam, empirical evidence has proved otherwise. A study, for instance, has suggested that more than 100,000 people converted to Islam in the last decade. London is one such melting pot. And the city made for an interesting background to follow the life of one such convert.
But it wasn’t easygoing from the start. People in London aren’t that forthcoming, especially if there is a camera involved. The contacts that Andrew had lined up for me backed out without warning. Upon landing in London, I’d have to start all over again.
After a few days of futile negotiations and making new contacts, I met Jason Thomas, a Muslim convert re-christened Hussain Thomas. Raised by a single parent and subjected to a rough teen life, Hussain joined a gang at a very young age and was involved in robberies, drugs, etc. Due to this, he spent the next few years of his life in and out of court probation, community service, police stations and jail.