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Grieving Muslim father calls for calm amidst racial tensions

Country/Region: United Kingdom, Europe

Harroon Jahan's father, Tariq, with a picture of his son
Harroon Jahan's father, Tariq, with a picture of his son

A Muslim father whose son was one of three Pakistani men run down and killed during the riots in Birmingham has been praised after calling upon his community to stay calm and refrain from engaging in violent reprisals.

Tariq Jahan's 21-year-old son, Haroon Jahan, and his friends Shahzad Ali, 30, and his brother Abdul Musavir, 31, were killed on Tuesday 9 August as they tried to guard family shops from carloads of looters.

Scores of young Muslim men filled the pavements outside Dudley Road's parade of nine small businesses and a mosque after complaining that police had failed to stop looters the night before.

Only hours after trying to save his dying son on the pavement near his home, Mr Jahan focused on the need for peace in Birmingham, a multicultural city of 1 million people that has previously suffered repeated clashes between its South Asian and Caribbean communities.

Mr Jahan appealed on TV to angry young Muslim men debating the need to strike back against those in the black community whom they blame for Wednesday's hit-and-run attack:

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.

A day later, Mr Jahan's face and message were on the front page of many British newspapers and he received praise from MPs.

Daily Mail columnist, Melanie Phillips, was one of several journalists who expressed appreciation for Mr Jahan in her blog:

The exemplary response of the father of one of the three who were killed, in which he asked his community to stay calm and to engage in no violent reprisals, has rightly drawn widespread admiration in bringing down the dangerously elevated temperature through his selfless and far-sighted gesture at a moment of shock and grief.

Phillips also commented on the special cooperation that has existed between ethnic groups since the riots:

Despite the violent mayhem across Britain over the past few days, it is important to point out that there have also been heartening examples of cross-community co-operation and solidarity. Sikhs have been volunteering to stand guard over mosques; Muslims have been guarding gurdwaras; ultra-orthodox Jewish men in Stamford Hill handed out challah loaves to people forced out of their homes in the conflagration; and people of all colours and creeds have been coming together to clean up their communities after the mayhem.

This is how a healthy society should behave: people from different communities and creeds co-operating in a neighbourly, helpful and respectful way. That is very different from multiculturalism, which is often wrongly assumed to mean precisely this. It does not.

Multiculturalism is a baleful creed which, far from bringing people together drives them apart. That is because multiculturalism is not a synonym for people from different cultures all getting along together. If this were so, it would be no more than a re-statement of how all decent and civilised societies should behave.

No, multiculturalism is the doctrine which says that no culture can ever claim precedence over any other. So there can be no hierarchy of values, and no society can uphold its historic traditions and values against any challenge. It is therefore by definition impossible for a multicultural society to uphold liberal values over their opposite - or, indeed, to uphold the fundamental democratic axiom of ‘one law for all'. It is also an oxymoron; for without an overarching set of cultural values to which everyone equally subscribes, there is no cultural glue to keep together a society - which then disintegrates into a war of group against group, value against value and the strong versus the weak.

It is multiculturalism which has done so much to wreck Britain; it is multiculturalism which has resulted in police neglect of black-on-black murder and gang warfare; it is multiculturalism which has helped create the anomie, amorality and utter absence of attachment to any notion of the common good which manifested itself in the anarchy on the streets of British cities.

By contrast, how very heartening have been the many scenes of kindness between strangers, and the poignant attempts to forge common bonds in the face of such terrible loss and provocation. In this must lie our hope for the future

So far three men have appeared in court charged with the murder of the three friends.

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Read The Associated Press article - Father of slain Muslim pleads for UK racial peace
Read Melanie Phillips' article - Dogma and decency

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