Hundreds of people, cutting across religious and racial lines, on Sunday came together at a peace rally in Birmingham following tension in the city over the death of three young men of Pakistani origin during last week's riots.
The rally with the slogan “One City, One Voice for Peace'' was held in the same area where Haroon Jahan (21), and brothers Shazad Ali (30) and Abdul Musavir (31) were killed by suspected rioters. They were mowed down by a car while guarding a petrol station where they had a car wash business.
Two persons, including a teenager, were on Sunday charged with their murders.
Haroon's father Tariq Jahan whose emotional appeal helped calm tempers in the aftermath of the tragedy and who has since emerged as the public face of Birmingham's peace campaign, said: “Seeing the community together gives me hope''. As good Muslims the best tribute they could pay to the three men in the month of Ramadan was to remain united.
“The three boys didn't die in vain. Remember they died for the community,'' he said.
Abdul Quddoos, brother of Ali and Musavir, broke down as he paid tribute to them and called for unity. The mood was sombre and people observed a minute's silence in memory of the dead.
Reverend Mark Ryan of the Birmingham Christian Centre 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'. That is the major message.''
Birmingham's Mayor Mike Whitby said the desire for “normality in this city is tangible”.
Derrick Campbell, chief executive of campaign group, Race Equality Sandwell, said emotions were “still raw'' and urged people to work together to “deliver a message'' of unity.
West Midlands Chief Constable Chris Sims described the response as “overwhelming'' and, in a swipe at politicians, said it “felt a million miles from the debates apparently raging in Westminster''.
Prime Minister David Cameron called for a “zero tolerance'' approach to street violence after Britain's worst riots in decades, and more raids were conducted across London as police continued to hunt for suspected rioters.