Building bridges in Brum

By Cathy Forman, August 25, 2011

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 hit-and-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.

I would like to help with a lasting memorial to the boys

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.

Last updated: 1:15pm, August 25 2011