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Police thank ‘Magnificent Seven’

ACTIVISTS: Councillor Waseem Zaffer (left) and Mashuq Ally.

SEVEN COMMUNITY activists have been shortlisted for a Diamond Award by West Midlands Police for helping to make the region a safer place in the run-up to a major protest organised by the English Defence League (EDL) last summer.

The group, which includes a city councillor and senior officer in Birmingham City Council, has been shortlisted in the ‘Community Thank You’ category.

In July 2013, tensions were running very high in the region when the EDL held a big demonstration in Birmingham city centre.

Unrest was widespread among communities, and it came at a time when three bombs had been planted across the West Midlands and an elderly Muslim man murdered while leaving a mosque in central Birmingham.

The activists – Majid Khan, Ataf Iqbal, Councillor Waseem Zaffer, Raj Rattu, Desmond Jaddoo, Nozmul Hussain, and Mashuq Ally, Birmingham City Council’s assistant director, equalities and HR – helped to calm tensions to avoid any counter protests.


In a letter inviting the group to the awards ceremony at the National Motorcycle Museum on March 26, their citation says: “In the lead up to the event this group organised, supported and participated in a series of community consultations surrounding the demonstration.

“Each one, in their own way, influenced communities in Birmingham to significantly dampen down counter protests to ensure that Birmingham’s reaction was dignified and proportionate.

“The result of the work these people undertook before the protest day within communities ensured that only a relatively small number of counter protestors turned out.”

The citation added: “The group gave ‘added legitimacy’ to reports through social media on the policing operation and ‘actively intervened and stood between counter protesters and police lines, acting as a barrier and preventing confrontation.

“They also advised police on tactics and what was likely to work best, while also challenging police around search tactics."

The nomination concludes: “There is no doubt that this event had the potential to create significant community concern. The actions of these people minimised disruption, supported communities and went way beyond any official role that they fulfil. They are hugely deserving of formal recognition.”

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