12 Aug 2011

‘Don’t march for my son,’ urges father of hit-and-run-victim

Tariq Jahan, whose son and two others were killed in a hit-and-run attack on Wednesday, has implored tearful Muslims in his community not to march in protest at the killings.

Mr Jahan’s son, Haroon, 21, Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, were fatally hit by a car in Winson Green on Wednesday.

Haroon’s father has been heralded as one of the heroes of the riots that have shaken Britain in the last week for his continued calls for people to not seek revenge for his son’s death.

And on Thursday night, he once again addressed a group on the streets of Birmingham, urging them not to participate in a protest march, albeit intended as a peaceful one, planned for Sunday.

Channel 4 News cameras captured Mr Jahan’s address to the gathered crowd in the early hours of this morning – many of whom were brought to tears by his call for peace to resume in their community.

“Brothers, there is no march,” he said.

“We don’t want a march. Why, what’s the march for? Where in the name of Islam (is there a call to march for the dead)? I’m not going nowhere. If you guys want to walk, go hiking. Don’t do it in the name of our sons, no.”

Mr Jahan reiterated an earlier call for Muslim;s in the community to seek solace in their religion instead of publicly exhibiting their anger at the deaths.

“Remember this guys; all of you guys standing here looking at me, to me you’re the equivalent of my son, I look at you as my brothers,” he said.

“Look at your life. If some of you can change yourselves and your ways it would benefit all of us here.”

Midlands Correspondent Darshna Soni, who saw Mr Jahan speak, writes:

I have covered many awful stories in my time as a reporter and have often been moved when interviewing victims or their relatives.

But I have never heard anybody speak as Tariq Jahan did in the early hours of this morning. A huge crowd of people were at the scene where his son had been killed on Tuesday, along with two of his friends.

They had come to pay their respects, to leave flowers and sign cards.

The gathering was mostly peaceful. But this city has a troubled city and there are some that would seek to stir age-old racial tensions.

There were rumours that some of them would be marching through the city today. Mr Jahan came out at around 1am to address these rumours and to appeal for calm in his neighbourhood.

“You will probably feel the pain as much as I do as my son passing away. Thank you for the cards and flowers, I appreciate that… but what I would ask you as Muslims, go home and read your Namaz (prayers). At the same time, look at your lives. If you can change yourself and your ways, then it would benefit all of us here.”

There was complete silence as he continued to speak to the young men, who had gathered under a bright, moonlit sky.

He has come to symbolise the very best of Britain at a time when the very worst has spilled out onto the streets.

The 46-year-old delivery driver told me he never wanted to take on the role; but he accepts the responsibility that has been placed upon him.

And yet, he spoke with humility when he asked them to listen to his words. “I can’t force you, I can’t make you do anything, but I can make you understand that the loss of one of your brothers is more important than standing here and trying to remember them. The best thing you can do is go home. If one of you goes away today and changes his ways, the reward that these three will get is from you guys.”

Mr Jahan urged everybody to go home and the crowd did start to move on. But for a few moments after he left, many of us stood in silence, reflecting on the powerful words we had just listened to.

Three people remain in custoday after being arrested on Thursday over the deaths of three men.

West Midlands Police said the suspects – aged 16, 17 and 26 and all from Birmingham – had been detained on suspicion of murder by officers investigating the deaths of the men in the Winson Green area of the city.

A spokeswoman for the force also confirmed that a 32-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder early yesterday had been released on bail pending further inquiries.

Today an inquest heard that detectives are seeking further suspects. Birmingham Coroner’s Court was also told that the incident which led to the deaths of Haroon Jahan and brothers Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir was captured on CCTV.