Video: Stoic and dignified dad begs for calm as he grieves for dead son
Published 11/08/2011 | 07:51
The grieving father of one of three friends murdered while trying to protect their community from rioters in Birmingham has appealed for calm.
Tariq Jahan, whose 21-year-old son Haroon Jahan was killed alongside Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, called on people to "respect the memories of our sons" by bringing a stop to the violence that has spread across the UK.
The trio died after being struck by a car in Dudley Road, Winson Green, as they attempted to protect a petrol station and nearby stores on Tuesday night.
A 32-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murdering the men remains in custody, while police are examining a car recovered near the scene of the crime.
Last night, hundreds of mourners gathered for a candlelit vigil close to the scene of where the three friends were killed.
Speaking yesterday following the murder of his son, Mr Jahan said: "Today we stand here to plead with all the youth to remain calm, for our communities to stand united.
"This is not a race issue. The family has received messages of sympathy and support from all parts of society."
Mr Jahan added: "I lost my son. Blacks, Asians, whites - we all live in the same community.
"Why do we have to kill one another? Why are we doing this? Step forward if you want to lose your sons. Otherwise, calm down and go home - please."
He also urged witnesses to the incident to come forward and give information to police.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who visited Birmingham in the wake of the tragedy, described the deaths as "truly dreadful" and offered his condolences to the families of the victim.
He said: "It was a truly dreadful incident and I know that the police here in Birmingham, here in the West Midlands, are working night and day to get to the bottom of what happened and bring the perpetrators to justice.
"We rely on the police to keep our communities, to keep our country, to keep our shops and homes safe.
"They need our support in doing that job."
Those killed in Winson Green were part of a group of around 80 people guarding shops at 1am yesterday.
After their deaths, it emerged that Mr Jahan attempted to revive his son after running to the scene from his nearby home as the car sped away.
Asked to describe his son, who was a keen amateur boxer, Mr Jahan said: "He was a good lad. He was very, very intelligent, very smart.
"He was a good, gifted kid."
The grieving father also appealed for there to be no revenge for his son's death and for the law to be allowed to take its course.
"Tensions are already high in the area. It's already bad enough what we are seeing on the streets now without other people taking the law into their own hands," he said.
The other victims were named by family members as brothers Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir.
The father of the brothers, who owned and worked at a car wash, was too upset to speak to the media at his home in a cul-de-sac in Winson Green.
A family friend said Shazad, who had a degree in business management from the University of Central England, was standing near the petrol station with his brother when they were hit.
Eyewitnesses estimated the car was travelling at around 50mph when the men were hit.
West Midlands Police chief constable Chris Sims urged everyone to act calmly following the three deaths.
He said: "Like everyone else in Birmingham, my concern now will be that that single incident doesn't lead to a much wider and more general level of distrust, and even worse, violence, between different communities.
"If we are calm, I'm absolutely confident that the people of the West Midlands can get through this ... and that we can rebuild trust between communities."
West Midlands Police has made more than 300 arrests since the disturbances which blighted the region on Monday and Tuesday night, with 48 people detained last night
The force had 1,000 officers on duty overnight - compared with 400 for each of Monday and Tuesday - with the situation across the region remaining calm.
Police also released more than 30 CCTV images of people they want to speak to in connection with the disorder and have begun the process of recovering "thousands of pounds worth" of items stolen by looters, executing a series of search warrants.
In an unprecedented move, Solihull Magistrates' Court sat all night to help fast track those charged in connection with the disorder in the region.
Chief Superintendent Phil Kay said: "This is a first for the West Midlands and has given us the opportunity to put before the courts the prisoners involved in the disorder in a really timely manner which helps speed up the judicial process."
Five people who appeared at Solihull Magistrates' Court overnight were sent to prison while one juvenile was bailed with strict conditions including an electronic curfew, West Midlands Police said.
West Midlands Police said the night passed peacefully with no further outbreaks of disorder.
Chief Superintendent Kay added: "Last night we worked closely with the communities of the West Midlands to appeal for calm and it is pleasing to see that these appeals were listened to and the streets remained quiet and peaceful.
"Our focus was on maintaining a high-visibility presence throughout the night and early hours, which helped prevent any further disorder.
"We have seen the benefits of social media being used responsibly to send positive messages about the situation in the West Midlands and to dispel malicious rumour and innuendo.
"We would like to thank the community for their ongoing support."
West Midlands Ambulance Service assistant chief ambulance officer Tracey Morrell said the service had not received any calls to attend incidents of disorder during the night.
"I would like to thank the public for their continued respect for the wishes of the families touched by the dreadful incident in Winson Green," she said. "Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time."