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Thursday 30 September 2010

Shahbaz Bhatti has spoken at a meeting in Bradford and one in London - Tell us what you think?

Here are video links to the two meeting held by Shahbaz Bhatti in the UK:

The first was in London and was hosted by the Christian Muslim Forum:

The second was in Bradford:

Please share your thoughts...

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Boris Johnson awards Wilson Chowdhry for promoting peace.

Father Francis Ackroyd, Wilson Chowdhry, Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Pastor Nims Obunge of the Peace Alliance.

In a packed arena on Wednesday 22nd September 2010, Wilson Chowdhry Vice Chairman of the BPCA was awarded the "Bridging Communities" Category in the London Peace Awards. 

The Peace Alliance introduced the awards with the following statement:

"The Award winner has been a proactive leader in his community inspiring many with his courage and bravery. Acting as an interface between communities and the Police and ASBO teams his work has helped address issues of anti social behaviour and helped foster community cohesion in his Borough. He is Chairman of the Redbridge Neighbourhood Watch Association and Founder of the Redbridge Carnival."

If you want to see a video of the award ceremony just click on the link below:

Redbridge- London Peace Week Event 2010

Wilson handing out free panic alarm to an Eastern European gentleman who had previously been mugged in a purported racially aggravated incident.
Rick from the ELCF checking out the food that his organisation provided for eating.
Rick loved the food so much he came back for more!
Scores of people kept us busy

This homeless man with a bruised and cut face joined us in our peace meal and took a panic alarm.  He advised us of the bullying and persecution he is often subjected to.

Redbridge Carnival Queen Kajul Pahl and Princess Anum Anaib encouraged people to join us in Town centre.
"This is how you prime the Panic alarm"
Rick loves photos!

Carnival Queen Kajul encourages those in Ilford's "Mall" to join us.
A most accessible and diverse event.
Rick from ECLF and Mal from the RNWA enjoying the event with visitors.
Young and old mourn the loss of a young life.
The memorial was crammed with well wishers sharing the pain of the Mahmood Family.
Parvin Mahmood lays a new wreath for her lost son.
People form up as we set up for the memorial speeches.
Superintendent John Sweeney joins Parvin Mahmood and Anne Oakes-odger in setting up a memorial.
Anne Oakes-lodger read a poem written by Kashif's sister Zainab Mahmood
A 1 minutes silence allows people to reflect on the futility of knife crime.
John Sweeney talks of the needless waste of such crime, he was the chief officer involved in the murder case of Kashif Mahmood.
Riffat Rizvi - the mother of Sabina Rizvi lost to gun crime spoke of the hurt it caused her family.

Alex Chowdhry from the British Pakistani Christian Association talked on community cohesion, togetherness and the need to bring change from within ourselves.
Elizabeth from Sizanani Africa spoke of the need for peace.
Elizabeth really stirred young people hearts and encouraged them to join her group.
Wilson reminds young people that there is much they can do to help in the fight against violent crime. 

Whilst Parvin Mahmood spoke the Carnival Queen and court at our event were great ambassadors for our Borough.
Young and Old, Black, White and Asian - united against crime.
Father Ackroyd from Vine United Reform Church joins the Redbridge Carnival Queens after a successful event.
Rick has been busy all day trying to get in pictures - this time we got his banner in!
Rick with Karen Campbell (RNWA) and Elizabeth (Sizanani Africa)
Our thanks to ECLF for funding this project they deserve the profile - well done Rick!
The unsung heroes - Juliet my wife cooked for people all day and Ash Chowdhry did most of the setting up.  These two members of the BPCA were committed to make the RNWA event a real success!
The Redbridge Neighbourhood Watch Association is a group dedicated to reducing crime and supporting Neighbourhood Watches in the London Borough of Redbridge.  This year on the 5th Anniversary of the demise of 'Kashif Mahmood' in youth knife attack, they held a peace barbecue. 

The barbcue took place in the Car park of Vine United Reform Church opposite the notorious subway in which the fatal knife crime attack took place.  Father Ackroyd from the church supported the vent by providing free drinks, while the East London Community Foundation paid for the food and the flyers after a funding application was successful.

The mother of Parvin Mahmood held a memorial at 16:30 that as hosted by Wilson Chowdhry of the RNWA.  Guest speakers included:

  • Parvin Mahmood (mother of Kashif Mahmood stabbed to death in 2005)

  • Anne Oakes-Odger (Chairperson for - her son was stabbed to death in 2004)

  • Riffat Rizvi (her daughter Sabina was shot outside Croydon police station in 2003)

  • Superintendent John Sweeney (Chief officer involved in murder case for Kashif Mahmood)

  • Alex Chowdhry (Chairman BPCA)

  • Elizabeth Kayembe (Sizanani Africa - a group focused on building the capacity and skills of minority groups)

  • Bushra Tahir (Awaaz)

  • Rick Pataky (East London Community Foundation)
Our thanks to Mal and Karen Campbell of the RNWA, Juliet Chowdhry, Ash Chowdhry from the BPCA, Father Ackroyd from Vine United Reform Church for their help.

Over 400 people attended the barbecue and at least 100 people joined us for the memorial.  The event had a rich diversity with people of many faiths, creeds, cultures and other diversities.  Over 10 individuals put their names forward for initiating Neighbourhood Watches and we handed out free crime prevention devices to all visitors.  Gifts included:

  • Multifunction Panic alarms with torches

  • UV pens to label property

  • Tamper proof stickers for vehicle tax discs

  • Leaflets on crime prevention

  • All good removed from vehicle stickers
Over 25 homeless people came and they joined in conversation with other visitors.  It was pleasantly surprising, to see how welcoming everyone was to this vulnerable community.  One gentleman with bruises on his face talked of the bullying and persecution he is subjected to on a daily basis.  All the homeless visitors expressed concerns about theirs safety following the two murders in one year within the Buckingham Road cemetery.  It was small solace but we gave all of them panic alarms, which they gratefully received and many of them shed tears of gratitude, which was a really touching moment for all concerned with the organising.

The event was brought to a close at 18:00 and our group returned to their homes tired but exhilarated at having held and participated in a wonderful event that served great purpose. 

Finally the moment you have all been waiting for the poem written by Zainab Mahmood (sic):

If you think missing me is hard, then you should try
missing you.

Missing you could turn from pain to pleasure, if I knew
you were missing me too

They say when you are missing someone that they are
probably feeling the same, but  I don’t think it’s possible
for you to miss me as much as I’m missing you right

Within you I lose myself….

Without you I find myself

Wanting to be lost again.

Love is missing someone whenever you’re apart,

But some how feeling warm inside because you’re close
in heart.

If I never met you, I wouldn’t like you. If I didn’t like you
I wouldn’t love you. If I didn’t love you, I wouldn’t miss
you. But I did, I do, and I will.

Love Zennie

Thursday 23 September 2010

Wilson Chowdhry wins "Building Bridges" category at the London Peace Awards.

Juliet my wife as we stood on the balcony of City Hall overlloking London Bridge

Looking glamorous but the wait made us extremely nervous!
City Hall got us really dizzy!
After the ceremony we celebrated the award!

The event was spectacular and well organised

Pastor Nims the chairman of the Peace Alliance was correct when he said "there were no losers at the event" and everyone there had a positive story to tell about their community work.
Our friends celebrated with us!
Wonderful views of London Bridge at night from across and above.

Enjoying the moment till the end.

Awesome image by the bridge.

Loyal friends are few and far between,

Father Francis Ackroyd presented me with my Trophy.  He is also form Ilford and will be working with me on a peace week event this Saturday.  Come along to Vine United reform Church Riches Roiad form 14:00 - 18;00 and meet with us.

Here is what the Event Organisers said:

Boris Johnson praises community champions at London Peace Awards
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, this evening praised the brave and selfless Londoners who volunteer their time, skills or expertise to contribute to the safety and well-being of their community.
Speaking at the London Peace Awards, which were held at City Hall to mark the London Week of Peace (19th – 26th September), the Mayor honored Londoners of all ages, cultures and backgrounds who have demonstrated a commitment to creating peace, cohesion and positivity in the capital. The awards mirror Boris Johnson’s strong commitment to promoting volunteering across the capital and raising the aspirations of young people.
The Mayor presented the Londoner’s Peace Award (the Mayor’s Award) – for the individual who has made the most outstanding contribution to their community - to Patrick Regan, founder of XLP, an inspirational organization which engages with gang members, police and politicians to fight poverty, support education and serve hundreds of young people.
The winners of the other awards are as follows:
        • Community Safety Award: Decima Francis founded ‘From Boyhood to Manhood Day Support Programme’ – a project which has been delivered to over 20,000 young people who were either excluded or at risk of being excluded from school and society at large.
        • Diversity Award: Michael Kosmas founded the NXG project – which now reaches up to 5,000 young people - to mentor young people of diverse cultural backgrounds.
        • Bridge Builders Award: Wilson Chowdhry founded the Redbridge Neighbourhood Watch Association and solves community anti-social behavior by acting as an interface between communities, ASBO and Police Teams in Redbridge.
        • The Young Persons Award:  Darwin Bernadrdo founded NUTMEG, a community based organization helping young people to realize their potential through numerous events which engage hundreds of young people.
        • Developing Real Examples and Mentors (DREAM) Award: Nilesh Badiani - a key player of Sai School of Harrow, a free weekend institution for children and young people from ethnic communities which promotes human values.
        • Volunteer Award: Kay Oldroyd founded the Black Youth Achievement CIC in 2008, which promotes the positive aspects of young black people and hosted the first ever Black Youth Achievement Awards in November of 2009.
        • Community Engagement Award: Michael Smith is an inspirational man who has been an immense catalyst for change in the community. His work Word 4 Weapons is a Christian based organization which involves putting knife bins in key places where people turn in their weapons. To date almost 800 knives have been binned.
        • Parents Peace Award: Mimi Asher. Having started a project in her home, Mimi now uses a community hall to persuade people involved in gang culture in the estate to realign their life choices.
        • Turnaround Peace Award: Chris Syrus is an ex-offender, poet and writer who mentors young offenders and young people in care.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said:
‘In altruistic spirit, the Peace Awards celebrate the achievements of those who generously give their time and talent to making London a more harmonious and happy city. The initiatives which are championed by the Week of Peace help cut crime, build bridges between different faiths and cultivate a feeling of solidarity. I am proud to be involved in this exemplary event and I thoroughly recommend all Londoner’s get involved in the voluntary work it inspires.

Rev. Nims Obunge MBE DL, Chief Executive of Peace Alliance, said:
‘In times of economic hardship, it is ever so important that we encourage and celebrate those who give themselves selflessly to create a better society. We all have something no matter how small that we can give back to improve where we live, work or play.

The London Week of Peace and the Peace Awards marked their tenth anniversary this year. The London Week of Peace, which began in Haringey in 2001 and has grown to incorporate all 33 London boroughs, was set up by the Peace Alliance with the aim of organizing initiatives which increase community cohesion, reduce crime and raise awareness of community safety issues. The GLA provides funding for three key events across the week: the Peace Awards Ceremony, the Peace Debate/Multi-Faith Forum and the volunteering project.

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Shabaz Bhatti visits UK.

Wilson with John Bosco and Javed Gill
Wilson with Alvin John
Wilson with Reverend Rana Youab Khan from "The Anglican Communion"
Bishop Dr Richard Cheetham with Shabaz Bhatti and other Pakistani Christian Brethren.
Wilson with the Director of the Christian Muslim Forum
Another photo for good luck.

Rt Revd Dr Richard Cheetham (Bishop for the Diocese of Southwark),  Wilson Chowdhry and Shabhaz Bhatti Federal Minister of Minorities - Pakistan.

In Alex's absence I attended the Christian Muslim Forum conference held at St George the Martyr Church , Bermondsey London yesterday afternoon.  The event was well organised and had a small but important audience including members of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, the Bishop of Southwark, Romail Gulzar and Pukaar News, John Bosco, Reverend Yana Youab Khan and many esteemed other including senior figures form the UK Muslim community.

The meeting was a chance for those concerned about the persecution of minority faiths and affect of the recent inundation - to get some feedback from the Federal Minister Shabhaz Bhatti and to pose questions to him.

Shabhaz Bhatti talked much about the introduction of a people engagement scheme that involves frequent meetings with leaders and lay people from all faiths in Pakistan.  He described how he believed that this would herald a new age of dialogue and cultural transformation in Pakistan - if given time to take affect.

He also talked of amendments to be made to the Blasphemy Law of Pakistan that will eventually see the introduction of penalties to those who are found abusing the act for personal benefit.  This would also involve penalties to groups or agencies that stirred up hatred against communities - such as rogue or fanatical religious leaders and their establishments.

Many questioned the veracity of the worth of such schemes as many had heard the same previously.  Moreover, I specifically asked the Federal Minister, to explain how he would ensure that the authorities involved in the process of evaluating and investigating any blasphemy allegations would be free from corruption.  I suggested that the police and other agencies are prone to corruption due to low levels of pay
incommensurate with better pay levels for Taliban insurgents!  Moreover, if better pay levels were to be administered the government of Pakistan would have to introduce a fairer tax system and ensure that monies due were collected. 

I also queried the need for a Blasphemy Law considering that a lead Muslim had stated that the law itself is un-islamic (it seemed a ubiquitous theme that all faiths attending the meeting were pro-abrogation of the Blasphemy Law), however, if the government was reticent to remove the cat should the law not provide universal protection to all faiths and prophets.  In such format with the threat of counter-litigation we should surely see a sharp reduction in the propensity for abuse.

Finally I asked why it was necessary to highlight an individuals faith on their passports and identity documents.  This act alone highlights the extent of prejudice in Pakistan and would be an easy matter to resolve without any significant cost or difficulty.  People would simply have the choice to purchase new passports without the discriminatory text - if holding an old standard type.

Shabhaz Bhatti meandered from one subject to the next and simply muttered something about the "passage of time."  Let us hope that passage of time is not one that never comes to fruition.