Up to 20,000 people gathered for a prayer event ahead of the funeral for three men killed during riots in Birmingham.Haroon Jahan, 21, Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, were hit by a car as they protected stores from looters in Winson Green on 10 August.The prayers took place in Winson Green’s Summerfield Park, with private burials held in Handsworth.Four men are currently in custody charged with their murders.The men’s deaths came amid mass rioting across England.The hearses containing the men’s coffins entered the park shortly before 15:00 BST.Some mourners gathered by the vehicles in the park as the remaining crowds stood silently behind nearby barriers.
Speeches were made by invited speakers before the Janazah [funeral] Prayer, part of the Islamic funeral ritual.Alan Blumenthal, from Singers Hill Synagogue, who attended the service, said the men were “beacons of light”.”Today goes against the view that young people are only interested in themselves and are layabouts,” he said.”Here we have three beacons of light and an example of the way people should lead their lives in services of others.”Another man said he had travelled from Saudi Arabia two days ago to attend the service because he was “so sad” after hearing about the incident.Some mourners wore T-shirts with the men’s names on and others with the words “Gone but not forgotten”.
Liberal Democrat Birmingham city councillor Ayoub Khan addressed the crowd, saying the men had been protecting property for “Muslims, non-Muslims, black and white alike, even people they did not know”.He also praised people for the maturity and restraint shown by the community following the deaths.The community “of all faiths and non-faiths have rallied as one”, he said.Saqib Majid, cousin of Shazad and Abdul, also spoke to the crowd.He said words could not express the pain the families had been feeling.”We are still very much in shock,” he added.The hearses were laden with flowers, with their names spelt out in white floral arrangements.In other riot-related developments on Thursday:
* Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said the riots would be a turning point in David Cameron’s leadership. The secretary of state for work and pensions said the looting and violence of last week had been a warning of a social crisis in Britain
* Prince Harry has visited Salford to meet fire crews and other members of the emergency services who were on duty in the disturbances, as well as community groups
* Ex-Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell, a QC and former leading criminal prosecutor, said any attempt by MPs to influence judges’ decisions was “not consistent with the rule of law”
* The Ministry of Justice said nearly 1,300 people arrested in connection with the riots across England had now appeared before magistrates
Following the deaths of the three men in Birmingham, Haroon’s father Tariq Jahan urged the community to remain peaceful and united and his words were credited by police for preventing the spread of further tensions and disorder in the city.’Best of humanity’Atif Iqbal, from the multi-faith group United Birmingham, said the number of people turning out to show their respects on Thursday would be testimony to the men’s honour.
“Tariq Jahan has become an inspiration for all of us because he really at that moment in time showed the best of humanity,” he said.”He wasn’t angry, he wasn’t shouting, no bitterness, he was a calming, reassuring voice and single-handedly, there’s no doubt about it, he brought peace and calm to the streets not only of Winson Green and Birmingham, but he had a profound impact nationally as well.”The service in the park was followed by a private burial service in Handsworth Cemetery.
An online book of condolence has been launched by the city council.Shopkeepers in West Bromwich town centre, which was also targeted by looters, are to hold a two-minute silence at 11:00 BST on Friday as a mark of respect to the three victims.About 250 people attended a peaceful vigil in Dudley Road in Winson Green hours after the crash.
Joshua Donald, 26, Adam King, 23, and a 17-year-old, who cannot be named because of his age, have appeared in court in Birmingham charged with murdering the three men in the crash.Ian Beckford, 30, from Quinton, Birmingham, appeared before city magistrates earlier on Thursday charged with murder.All four have been remanded in custody to appear at crown court in December.A special half-hour Crimewatch programme on Thursday was dedicated to identifying looters in Birmingham and Wolverhampton.BBC