A Prayer for London

This is not about ballet,  but I am so saddened, worried, on edge and frankly scared about what has been happening in the past week. I need to get it out of my system.

It is difficult to write about this. My neighbourhood was quite affected by the London Riots, but it was nothing compared to other areas such as Hackney, Tottenham and Croydon. I don’t want to exaggerate anything.

Local shops were looted, gutted, and burned to the ground. People have lost their jobs. The whole community is tense and scared. These have been difficult days for a lot of people.

And yet, some media outlets and some people have been pushing the idea that these issues are somehow to do with race, immigration and the so-called ‘failure’ of multiculturalism. The situation in Tottenham that sparked this is race-related only in the sense of institutional racism and strained relationships between the Police and the black community. This is the only racial side.

I have just been reading on The Guardian that the EDL have been ‘protesting’ in north London. The BNP have called for ‘a day of action’ on Saturday. They are trying to exploit the horrible events of the last few days to push their prejudiced and dangerous agenda. Please do not let this happen.

I love London for many reasons, but the chief reason is this:

In London, you never feel like a foreigner. You always feel like you are home.

I love the diversity, the sheer passion of the people and the life that pulsates out of this city. Here, you are always home.

Yesterday, three young men died in Birmigham. Their deaths are being treated as murder. The father of one of them, Mr. Tariq Jahan spoke to the media earlier today. What did he say? He asked for calm. He asked for peace.

He said: “I lost my son today. Please step forward if you also want to lose a son tonight”.

He was asked by reporters if he blamed the police, the government, young people. He responded:

“I am a Muslim. I don’t blame anyone. I believe in Allah and destiny. I pray for forgiveness. I pray for Allah to bless my son”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAXv5CRocvg

This man is heartbroken. His son was murdered less than 24 hours before that, and he was standing tall, dignified, eloquent, with a heartfelt plea for piece. He is a Muslim. He is Asian.  And he is British.

I cannot think about him without crying. His picture is everywhere now. As it should be. With all this madness going on, it is so important that this man is heard.

I am not a Muslim, but I am praying tonight. I am praying that peace will prevail, that things will get better, and I am also saying my thanks. Thanks that I am safe, that those I love are safe, that there have been very few deaths and I am also grateful, from the bottom of my heart, that people like Mr. Jahan have a platform. They are the best this country has to offer.

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