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Violating Sanctions

An American Woman’s Listening Tour Through the Axis of Evil

The London Logs: From Bethnal Green to Brick Lane

The Author By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | August 8th, 2012 | Comments No Comments

London sure loves its tourists and has several vibrant spots for them to hang out: Leicester Square, Covent Garden, the South Bank with rows of restaurants and pubs intermingled with ATMs. Bethnal Green and Brick Lane 100_0192.jpgare not such spots. These are ethnic ‘hoods, pulsating with funky boutiques, affordable aromatic restaurants and a street market that sells everything from batteries to bras.100_0188.jpg

Bethnal Green is also the home of the New Media Networks (www.NewMediaNetworks.org), the company owned by my new friends Karen Merkel and Akim Mogaji. They are working on a public relations project for Palestinian students who have been awarded opportunities to study in UK universities. Since I deeply support the Iraqi Student Project (www.IraqiStudentProject.org), which provides Iraqi refugee students with scholarships to US colleges, I am quite enthralled with this unique and fragile program.

They took me on a walking tour along Bethnal Green Road and its street stalls reminiscent of what I’ve seen in the Middle East and Mexico.

As we turned onto Brick Lane, however, I felt like I’d stepped into the 1960s. Political graffiti art adorned 100_0184.jpgfunky vintage clothing stores and ethnic Bangladeshi restaurants. There was even a bookstore. A bookstore! 100_0182.jpgAt one end is Spitalfields Market (www.OldSpitalfieldsMarket.com) – an outdoor covered market of stalls selling hip, artsy clothing and offbeat crafts.

This is the area where immigrants first assimilate. For centuries, it’s been remade by every new wave of immigrants. There’s a mosque, 100_0189.jpgthat used to be a synagogue, that used to be a church founded by Huguenot refugees.

More about this intriguing area when I return on August 19 for a free walking tour.
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Category: London
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