Families of those killed by Birmingham looters appeal for restraint

The grieving relatives of three men run down by a car outside a petrol station want justice, not vengeance

"I want to be able to bury him so that he is at rest, but the police cannot release the body," said Khansa Ali, 22, the pregnant wife of one of the three men mown down in Birmingham in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

"I didn't want a post-mortem because it is against Islam, and now I just want bury my husband."

Ms Ali, who is four months pregnant and finds herself widowed half a year after coming to Britain from Rawalpindi in Pakistan to begin a life with her new husband, spent yesterday mourning at the Allens Road mosque with her husband's distraught family and friends, trying to picture a life in England with a new baby but no husband.

The tiny mosque is a five-minute drive from the Jet petrol station in Winson Green where her husband, Shahzad, 30, his brother, Abdul Musavir Khan, 31, and a third man, Haroon Jahan, 21, were hit and killed while trying to protect local shops from looting and vandalism during Tuesday night's violence.

The tension in the city's streets on Wednesday was palpable as threats of racial violence and recriminations escalated within hours of the murders. But by yesterday, one man had helped restore some calm. Tariq Jahan, father of Haroon, may have singlehandedly stopped parts of Birmingham from self-combusting last night with his unforgettable plea for peace, according to the chief constable of West Midlands Police.

Speaking outside the petrol station after meeting Mr Jahan and his family, who live just around the corner, Chief Constable Chris Sims was full of praise for Mr Jahan's intervention.

"An awful lot of work was being done yesterday by communities across Birmingham," he said. "But I think most of us would see that the intervention he felt able to make, which was one of the most powerful, generous and far-sighted interventions I have ever seen, at a moment of absolute grief and devastation, was decisive in terms of Birmingham not suffering tension and violence between communities."

Yesterday detectives held three more men, aged 16, 17 and 26, on suspicion of the murders. A fourth man, 32, arrested on Wednesday after he allegedly torched the car which was driven into the three men, was bailed after being questioned for 36 hours. This brings the number of people arrested in the West Midlands to nearly 400, of whom 26 were sentenced during Wednesday's all-night sitting at Solihull Court.

Mr Jahan, now a reluctant hero, publicly accepted condolences from Afro-Caribbean community leaders last night and reiterated his opposition to violence. Another call for calm was made, albeit less publicly, by the father of the two dead brothers.

Ghazanfar Ali, 63, speaking for the first time through an interpreter, appeared frailer than his years as he stood outside the mosque, where dozens had gathered to pay respects for a second day. "I want everyone to pray for my children; that's all the family now wants because there is nothing else we can do. I saw them lying on the floor with my own two eyes but I still can't believe that they are dead."

His only remaining son, Abdul Quddoos Khan, 33, was chain-smoking in an attempt to stay calm. He says he spent Wednesday night convincing young, angry Muslim men that revenge and violence was not what his family wanted.

"I am angry but violence wouldn't achieve anything except make another mother and father lose their child; what good would that do? We have to stay calm; everyone has to stay calm because we are looking for justice."

Sumera Ali, 25, the only sister of the dead brothers, is adamant that they are martyrs because they died protecting the mosque. "They were popular, really funny and bubbly; the house feels empty and will never be the same again. But they died protecting us so I am proud of them. I just want to bury them now; it would make us all feel better."

There was an uneasy calm in Birmingham last night but the large police presence cannot last for ever, and so, somehow, different communities must learn to trust each other again. Robert Branson, 63, from Perry Common, was one of dozens of people, Afro-Caribbean, Asian and white, who came to pay their respects and lay flowers where the three men were slain. Mr Branson's card read: "From one father to another father, I feel your pain."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee