Birmingham Strengthened post riots by Victims Father
:unsure-1: One almost wishes the Christians could embrace their community like this Muslim...
The grieving father of a young man killed while protecting his community from looters spoke of his faith in his local community to stay strong and avoid interracial conflict as Birmingham's Muslims gathered for Friday prayers.
Tariq Jahan, whose son Haroon was mown down by a car on Wednesday alongside two friends as they patrolled the streets of Winson Green, said he had spoken to local youths over the last 48 hours, and that he believed the anger that had threatened to explode into violence between black and Asian people after the deaths was beginning to subside.
Jahan been has lauded for his part in quelling tensions following the riots across England, with both David Cameron and Ed Miliband singling him out for praise.
Speaking outside his home, less than 70 yards from where his son died, Jahan said: "I believe that people can stay calm. If you look around here, there are black, brown, white and yellow people, they are all my community. We live together and we can stay together.
"Our three boys have died. I hear that another person, a 68-year-old man, has died in London after he tried to help stop a fire. There should be no more deaths, and I hope and pray that message has got through."
Many commentators have warned of possible conflict in Britain's second city after Haroon, 21, and brothers Shahzad Ali and Abdul Musavir were run over and killed by a suspected looter.
They were part of a group of young Asian men who say they were defending the local community's shops, homes and mosques while other parts of Birmingham were attacked by rioters.
Reports claimed that hundreds of Muslim and Sikh youths were plotting revenge against the black community in Birmingham.
Winson Green, an area north-west of the city centre, has been home to a substantial Pakistani community since the 1960s. The area is racially mixed with an established minority of Jamaicans and recent immigrants from Somalia and eastern Europe.
At the half-built Dudley Road mosque, a few yards from where the young men died, more than 600 members of the local community, including Somalis and African-Caribbeans, gathered to say prayers.
Some worshippers had come from nearby Handsworth, scene of riots in the 1980s. An official from a local Somali mosque was invited to say a few words about the three young men.
The room fell quiet as Jahan, 46, the Slough-born son of immigrants from Indian Kashmir and Pakistan, and his eldest son Tahrir entered the main prayer hall. They were ushered to the front. Speaking in Urdu, the imam called for peace among the local community and called for worshippers to react to the alleged murders with dignity.
Afterwards, Jahan said he and his family – including his wife Tahira and his 23-year-old daughter Sophia – were still trying to accept his son's death. "The grief does not leave. I keep telling myself that he died protecting the community. But I don't have the words to say how I feel," he said.
When approached by the media, young men outside the mosque rejected the possibility of seeking revenge. To each other, however, they spoke of their anger at the police's failure to protect them.
"They can control 60,000 people every time Aston Villa play. Why can't they control a few hundred looters?" said one.
Inquests are expected to be opened and adjourned into the deaths of the three men this weekend.
Two boys aged 16 and 17 and a man of 26 were arrested on Thursday on suspicion of murder, while a man aged 32 arrested on Wednesday has been bailed.
A peaceful protest is to be held on Sunday in memory of the three men. The event is planned at Summerfield park in Winson Green, police said.
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