UK Muslims, Sikhs join hands against riots
Birmingham, Aug 14 – Finding themselves in the same trench, Muslims and Sikhs in the British city of Birmingham joined forces to defend their places of worship against possible attacks by rioters and looters.
“We’ve been protecting each other and it feels good to have put differences behind us and establish common ground because we both love our communities and want the streets to feel safe," Mohammed Shakiel, an Astron resident, told The Birmingham Mail on Saturday, August 13.
Muslim and Sikh residents have formed a plan to defend their worship places against attacks.
Under the plan, Muslims attend nightly Ramadhan prayers at mosques in the city while Sikhs stand guard outside to watch their Muslim neighbors' backs.
In turn, Muslims go to protect the city's Sikh temples during the night-time Kirtan Sohila prayer.
Even Birmingham churches benefited from the Muslim-Sikh cooperation as the two communities watched out for other places of worship in the city.
“It’s just good to know you can rely on your neighbor – that’s the kind of security that everybody wants and it’s here in Birmingham,” Shakiel, a 34-year-old father of two, said.
Shakiel said he had stood side-by-side with Sikhs, despite their faith differences, to protect places of worship since violence erupted in the city.
Riots have engulfed British cities since last week. Ever since, gangs of looters have terrorized residents and shop owners.
“The people who have been robbing and looting are just scum and it’s not what the people of Birmingham want,” said Shakiel.
“We’ve stood together as deterrents – we never wanted there to be any trouble and I hope we’ve seen the end of the robbing and looting.”
But acting as deterrents to thugs also has its dangers.
On Wednesday, three British Muslims lost their lives while guarding homes and property in the riots-hit city.
The trio was guarding a gas station when they were hit by a speeding car. They were taken to hospital but died from their injuries.
The solidarity shown by the city's Muslim and Sikh communities offered many hopes for a peaceful future despite the current turmoil.
Scholars of both communities also joined the city's faith leader in issuing a joint appeal for calm in Birmingham.
The city’s Faith Leaders’ group, which represents Birmingham’s Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists and Jews, urged people to work together to maintain order.