Birmingham pays respects to men killed in hit-and-run

 

Twenty-five thousand people attended a public funeral prayer in a Birmingham park for the three men killed protecting their community during last week's riots.

A week after Haroon Jahan, Shahzad Ali and Abdul Musavir were killed as a car ploughed into a crowd of Muslims gathered to guard a nearby mosque and businesses, four men have so far been charged with their murder.

Had it not been for the reaction of the men's families, who immediately called for calm, the tragedy could have spiralled into tit-for-tat violence. Instead the anger on the streets was replaced with sombre reflection that has spared Birmingham further trouble.

The crowd gathered yesterday just a few hundred yards from where the three men were killed. Denise Moyce, 42, attended with her 12-year-old daughter Lucy. "My husband used to work out at the gym with [brothers] Shahzad and Musavir," she said. "He couldn't be here so we came. It is appalling what has happened to the families."

Among the Muslim worshippers, many described the day as a happy one because of a belief that the three men, who had died protecting a mosque in the holy month of Ramadan, were martyrs who are guaranteed a place in heaven. "These three men are shaheed," said 50-year-old Mohammad Khalid, using the Islamic term for a martyr. "They went out to defend their community. There was no selfish gain in what they did. That is what jihad is really about."