Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday praised the people of Southall, a London suburb known as Little India, for their “determined resolve” in preventing rioting as five days of violence and anarchy in Britain finally abated, leaving a trail of destruction and death.
“In the past few days we have seen a range of emotions sweep this country: anger, fear, frustration, despair, sadness — and finally a determined resolve that we will not let a violent few beat us,” Cameron told the British parliament, recalled for a day’s emergency session.
"We saw it in the hundreds of people who stood guard outside Southall Temple, protecting it from vandalism. This is a time for our country to pull together.”
Hundreds of Sikh, Hindu, Muslim and Christian residents of Southall — many armed with kirpans, swords and hockey sticks — banded together on Tuesday night to protect the local community. Southall MP Virendra Sharma said they took the action after rumours of an imminent attack.
Violence-hit cities of England experienced their first day free of rioting, looting and arson on Wednesday as the police flooded the streets in large numbers and judges sat up through the night to sentence hundreds of young offenders.
The city of Birmingham was tense but calm overnight after the father of one of three Pakistani-origin men killed by suspected Black rioters told restive crowds not to seek revenge.
"I lost my son," said Tariq Jahan, holding up a photograph of Haroon Jahan, 21. "Blacks, Asians, Whites - we all live in the same community. Why do we have to kill one another? Step forward if you want to lose your sons. Otherwise, calm down and go home."
The three men were mowed down by a car driven by rioters as they stood on the roadside along with other Asians trying to guard local business establishments.
More than 1,200 people have been arrested across the country so far. In addition to the three fatalities in Birmingham, a rioter was killed in a gang-fight and a man who tried to argue with rioters is in hospital with life-threatening injuries.