Tower Hamlets’ schoolboys splash out on supercars for prom

Aminul Mishu Alam walks past cars parked in Tower Hamlets Credit: Reuters

Bangladeshi schoolboys from one the most deprived boroughs in Britain have splashed out on rental supercars for their NRA graduation prom day.

Tower Hamlets is one of the poorest boroughs in the UK, with an exceptionally high rate of economic deprivation, where at least one in ten are unemployed.

Teenagers in Tower Hamlets have shown that this economically-tough climate has not prevented them to spend hundreds and even over a thousand pounds in hiring expensive supercars, which cost more to buy than properties in the area.

The Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Bentleys parked on the grim streets of  East London were hired by 16 year-olds to celebrate their leaving school graduation ceremony, and they openly admitted it was all about “showing off” and having their time in the “spotlight”.

Foyzur Rahman, a pupil at Swanlea School who split £400 with a friend to hire an Audi S4 for four days said: “It’s showing off, basically. Playing music, going from area to area. Showing off your car, just everyone looking at you. It’s like your spotlight.”

The cars can cost up to £300,000 to buy, yet one bedroom flats in some parts of Tower Hamlets are worth as little as £70,000.

The teenagers headed to their National Record of Achievement (NRA) ceremony in “style”, and felt it was pivotal to arrive in a “celebrity” fashion.

Tower Hamlets is home to the largest Bangladeshi community in Britain, and the majority of pupils taking part are of Bangladeshi origin.

Changing times

Abdul Hasnath, a senior youth worker with the Osmani Trust youth and community organisation, said school proms became popular 15 years ago, with pupils hiring limousines, but have gotten more lavish and expensive ever since. He said: “It was quite small at that time, but obviously now it’s probably the biggest date on their diaries, including Eid and everything else.”

Most the students, who at the age of 16 are too young to drive, were chauffeured through the neighbourhood either by the car hire company drivers or by friends and relatives.

Many of those in the more expensive motors switched later to “after-cars”, when they can travel together in groups, often engaging in road races. “Videos of the day” with hip-hop, R&B, grime or Bollywood soundtracks playing out loud are usually posted on YouTube.

Muslims and school proms

5 Pillarz spoke to Muslim school pupils who decided not to go to their NRA graduation prom on religious grounds and local residents of Tower Hamlets and other London boroughs to get their views on the extravagant spending on car hires by Bangladeshi youth.

Rukshana Begum, 16, from Whitechapel said: “Even though my parents would have allowed me to go, I chose not to on religious grounds.

“The environment is not one that is suitable for Muslims. Firstly it is a mixed environment, where boys and girls in most cases ‘interact’ on promiscuous grounds like dancing, on top of that teachers will be drinking alcohol.”

Abdul Mumin, 16, from Haverstock Secondary School in Camden said: “I’ve noticed that my classmates have spent large amounts of money on clothing and hiring expensive cars for this one night, so that they are able to impress other girls and students by ‘coming in swag’.

“As a Muslim teenager I  felt that this environment is not befitting for a Muslim as it leads to compromising the Islamic beliefs.”

Moinul Hussain a regular worshipper at East London Mosque and a resident of Tower Hamlets said: “Spending all of one’s resources and ones thinking on the means of transport, with no idea of the destination is a sad metaphor for life. Unfortunately this symbolism goes straight over some of the youth’s heads.

“Material wealth, power and fame causes arrogance and attachment to worldly objects in individuals, so personal traits is engendered in us from the system and society that we live in.”

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