Build­ing bridges in Brum

The Jewish Chronicle - - Community - BY CATHYFORMAN

BIRM­ING­HAM JEWISH com­mu­nity rep­re­sen­ta­tive Alan Blu­men­thal was among the mourn­ers at a pub­lic me­mo­rial cer­e­mony for the three young Mus­lim men killed dur­ing the re­cent ri­ots.

The Birm­ing­ham Jewish Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil vice-chair had pre­vi­ously ad­dressed a peace rally in the city at which he was asked by Tariq Ja­han — fa­ther of Ha­roon Ja­han, one of the hi­tand-run vic­tims — to at­tend last Thurs­day’s open-air ser­vice at Sum­mer­field Park in Win­son Green.

“As a re­tailer in Birm­ing­ham, I iden­ti­fied with the fact that the boys had been try­ing to pro­tect their com­mu­nity’s shops,” Mr Blu­men­thal ex­plained. “They were lo­cal young peo­ple.”

He added that there were up to 20,000 peo­ple at the ser­vice. “To see that many peo­ple pray­ing to­gether was quite an ex­pe­ri­ence. We hear so much about rad­i­cal imams com­ing to this coun­try to spout ha­tred, but this imam was the op­po­site. He spoke about peace and the need for har­mony within com­mu­ni­ties.”

Fol­low­ing the pub­lic ser­vice, the fam­i­lies at­tended a pri­vate burial at Handsworth ceme­tery.

Mr Blu­men­thal said he would like to work with the fam­i­lies “to make a last­ing me­mo­rial to the three boys. Per­haps we can raise money for some youth work. Mr Ja­han doesn’t want the boys to be for­got­ten.”

In the af­ter­math of the ri­ots, Mr Blu­men­thal’s eight menswear out­lets across the Mid­lands, Suits Plus, are op­er­at­ing on re­stricted hours. Al­though they were were not at­tacked dur­ing the dis­or­der, “shop­pers have been fright­ened away”, he re­ported.

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