Minute's Silence at Birmingham Peace Rally

By Andrew Dawkins BBC News, Winson Green, Birmingham, 14 August 2011

The rally was organised by community groups

At 16:07 BST, close to where three men died as they protected businesses from looters, flags waved in the breeze as thousands observed a minute's silence.

It was a moment of reflection in the sunshine for those who descended on a Birmingham park for a peace rally. Tariq Jahan, the father of one of the men, had just been applauded on the stage.

"Thank you Birmingham for your respect and observance of that" came across loud to the assembled crowd in Winson Green as the silence ended.

As several children played on swings nearer to the outskirts of Summerfield Park, speakers and musicians took to the stage standing under the large banner "United Birmingham, One City, One Voice for Peace".

'Made a difference'

Men carried small children, and people of all ages stood silent in small groups in the crowd of about 5,000.

Amjad Hussain said the event had made a difference

Some men arrived in black T-shirts bearing the words "Haroon Shazad Musavir R.I.P".

Haroon Jahan, 21, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, died on Wednesday.

All three worked for Amjad Hussain, 37, who has an automotive business in Winson Green.

Listening near to the stage, he said: "Today everyone's together and it will stay like this.

"It'll bring the community together and it definitely has made a difference."

People entering the park on City Road were greeted with the event's slogan on two large banners attached to railings.

With the backdrop of trees around the perimeter of the site and emergency service vehicles in the background, some people talked together within sight of the stage while others were walking in the open green space further away.

Many others simply listened to the speeches and music for up to two hours, with representatives from six faiths addressing the crowd.

The speakers also included West Midlands Chief Constable Chris Sims, city council leader Mike Whitby and Lord Mayor Anita Ward.

Young people were also given the microphone - and a voice.

Up to 25 people, including religious and community representatives, had come together to organise the initiative in response to the disorder and the loss of life.

Reyahn King said it was important people were "bothered to come"

Akhar Ali 45, from Sparkhill, Birmingham, said: "I hope for peace and prosperity for all communities.

"We are different communities. It would be boring if we were one community.

"Our colour should be humanity first."

Reyahn King, 46, who has lived in Birmingham for 10 years, said it was difficult to say how important an event such as this could be.

But she added: "It's important that people are bothered to come here today to show that they care.

"They want to demonstrate that as an individual, every single person here wants to be tolerant and respectful of everyone else.

"It's good to have many different communities here, different backgrounds, but to be honest that's what I'd expect in Birmingham."

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Birmingham disorder: Thousands attend peace rally

BBC News, 14 August 2011

Thousands of people have attended a peace rally which followed the looting and violence in Birmingham.

Community groups arranged the rally in response to the disorder and the loss of three lives in Winson Green.

Haroon Jahan, 21, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, died on Wednesday as they protected businesses from looters.

Police estimated up to 5,000 people were at the rally in Summerfield Park, Winson Green.

A minute's silence was observed during the event.

'Unity and solidarity'

Religious leaders said the aim was to promote unity and to show solidarity against the rioters.

Tariq Jahan, father of Haroon Jahan, made an emotional speech, along with relatives of Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir.

Tariq Jahan: "To see the community together gives me strength in my heart"

Mr Jahan said seeing the community standing together gave him strength in his heart.

He asked the communities not to let their sons die in vain.

"I hope that this community will remember them," he said.

He said he had received so much mail so many emails of support he had not had chance to respond.

"I don't know how to respond," he said. "I am one of the people. I am nobody special.

"I am not important but thank you from bottom of my heart from my wife and all our families."

'Set good example'

The Reverend Mark Ryan, of the Birmingham Christian Centre, said beforehand there was a slight risk of trouble but that it was worth taking the risk.

He said: "I think it is a great thing that all the communities want to come to say 'one Birmingham, one city, one voice for peace'."

Police said they expected the rally to pass without incident.

People at the rally spoke to the BBC's Anthony Bartram

Dave Clayton, 65, of Oldbury, West Midlands, said he wanted to share his condolences with the families of the men who were killed.

"I think (events like these) want to be more widespread around the country," he said.

"There are other cities with problems."

Akhar Ali from Sparkhill, Birmingham, said: "I came to show the respects to the family and to share their grief.

"I hope an event like this will create unity amongst all communities and all religions."

Margaret Osahan of Edgbaston, Birmingham, said: "We have a situation where people don't respect each other.

"We have to set a good example. I hope some of the young people who were rioting are here so we can set them an example."

'Damaged young people'

West Midlands Chief Constable Chris Sims also spoke at the event, along with Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby.

Abdul Quddoos, brother of Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir, delivered an emotional speech

"We are working together, politicians, faith leaders, community leaders - the desire for normality in this city is tangible," said Mr Whitby.

Before the event, Mr Sims said: "Officers have been overwhelmed by the support shown by the public and it felt a million miles from the debates apparently raging in Westminster."

Sentencing of those in court had been "justifiably harsh", he said.

But he added people must not abandon compassion for some "damaged young people who have been caught up in these incidents".

A third person was charged on Sunday evening with the murders of the three men in Winson Green.

Earlier in the day two people - a 26-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy - appeared in court each charged with three murders.

The two were remanded in custody and will appear at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-14521307