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Asians against revenge

world Updated: Aug 12, 2011 00:36 IST
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When the prime minister, David Cameron, said the riots had brought out "some of the best of Britain", he could not have known how fitting that description would be of events on a petrol station forecourt in Birmingham 12 hours later.

Spilling out in the road beside the Jet garage, where three Asian men were killed, around 300 Muslim and Sikh men gathered to debate how they should respond to the tragedy. There were no politicians in sight - no community spokespeople or religious leaders. These were local men, struggling to know how to manage their grief and anger.

Candles marked the spot where Haroon Jahan, 21, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30 and Abdul Musavir, 31, had been killed on Wednesday.

A murder inquiry has been launched, and a 32-year-old man is being questioned.

After prayers and a silent vigil, men took turns to express their views. There had been fears that the meeting would be a flashpoint, sparking a further round of rioting and looting.

It was clear from snatches of conversation that there were some in the crowd - a minority - who wanted to reap revenge on the black community, whom they held responsible for the deaths. They did not prevail.

The consensus among most was that a planned march should not take place, in part because it would be disrespectful to the families of those who died.

However community relations in Birmingham play out in the days and weeks to come, the meeting at Dudley Road will serve as evidence of a determination among many not to allow the violence to spiral.