- Associated Press - Sunday, August 14, 2011

LONDON (AP) — Community groups held a peace rally Sunday in Birmingham, England’s second-largest city, against the hit-and-run attack that claimed three lives during rioting there.

Scores of people gathered in the neighborhood where three Muslim men — Haroon Jahan, 20, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31 — were mowed down Wednesday by a car traveling at high speed. The trio were with a larger group guarding a row of Pakistani-owned shops from looters.

The killings threatened to ignite clashes between the area’s South Asian and black gangs, but appeals for calm and unity from Jahan’s father have been heeded so far.

The father, Tariq Jahan, joined other victims’ family members in addressing the crowds Sunday in Winson Green from a stage bearing the banner “One City, One Voice for Peace.”

Wearing a T-shirt bearing the names of the three victims, Mr. Jahan told the crowd that seeing the community come together gave him strength to believe the three men did not die in vain.

Abdul Qudoos, the elder brother of Shazad and Musavir, broke down as he thanked the audience for support and urged the community to remain united.

“Please do not divide; be together, “he said in an emotional address. “Let people know that we are all good.”

Two men have been charged in the attack. Joshua Donald, 26, and a 17-year-old youth whose name was withheld because of his age were arraigned Sunday at Birmingham Magistrates Court on three counts each of murder. Both were remanded in custody after brief hearings.

The magistrates court normally is closed Sundays but, like many other British courts, has worked unprecedented hours and stayed open through the weekend to help process the scores of defendants charged in connection with the riots.

The Justice Ministry said that 1,156 suspects had appeared in court as of late Saturday.

Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly acknowledged the “difficult work” facing courts; prisons; and probation, youth and emergency services, saying he had met with court staff and judges who had worked 30 hours straight.

“I am very grateful for all their hard work and impressed at the cohesion and spirit between the teams who are working so closely together to deliver speedy results,” he said.

Thousands of people have been arrested countrywide, with more than 800 charged in London alone.

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