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Dozens gather at Redbridge peace pole to pray for peace in London

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Hundreds of multi-faith leaders and adherents visited the Redbridge Peace pole located on Riches Road (near Vine Church) to pay their respects for the many victims of teen knife crime from Redbridge and wider areas of London.

The meeting was one of the many stops along the path of the Redbridge Multi-faith Peace walk which also included, the Holocaust Memorial Garden in Valentines Park, the Buddhist Vihara on Balfour Road, VHP Ilford Hindu Centre, Ilford Islamic Centre on Albert Road, Vine Church on Riches Road and Karamsar Gurdwara on the High Road.

Participants for the walk have never before stopped at the Peace monument which was installed by the British Pakistani Christian Association and East Ilford Betterment Partnership in 2011.

The monument which was designed by local children and is installed near the location were the tragic murder of teenager Kashif Mahmood occurred in 2005 (click here)The location was chosen for it's proximity to Ilford Town Centre and because it was close to the spot were young Kashif lost his life. 

The Mother of Kashif, Parvin Mahmood supported the project and contributed £2000 towards the installation and £1000 was donated by Ann Oakes-Odger (MBE), Sgt Somerville obtained £1000 from the local police and the rest of the funds were raised via the EIBP and BPCA through donations, grants and by holding a peace march through Ilford, with over 200 teenagers raising £500 in the process.

When the original concept for the monument began it was never the intention for it to simply become a memorial for Kashif Mahmood, many other mothers of teen victims endorsed the project including the mother of Charlotte Polious and Jack Large, two other teenagers killed in knife attacks in Redbridge.   The monument was designed to be a beacon of hope for a better future and when local children helped design the pencil-like structure they hoped through an adoption of the ideals of our project that Redbridge teenagers could 'write a new future' for the borough. 

Though many anti-violence groups used the monument as a location to speak with teenagers about the futility of knife crime during the early years after it's installation, activity at the monument has reduced.  Quite reciprocally violent crime in our borough has also increased during the same period.  Though no direct correlation can be made with increased violence and the lessening of community introspection following the death of innocents, the BPCA led a peace vigil with teenage volunteers in August to remind people of the devastation that violent crime introduces.  The event included a rap by an Islington-based rapper Faisal Gill who had lost his cousin in a teen knife attack in November last year (click here) and a poem by a local teenager named Chinwedu.

The event inspired Peter Musgrave one of the organisers of the Redbridge peace walk which was held on the exact date of the installation of our monument 7 years ago. He contacted Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association who was invited to speak.  Wilson's daughter Hannah Chowdhry a long-term peace campaigner was also invited to say the prayer of St Francis which they both conducted at 3.30 at the Peace monument.



THE PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.



Wilson Chowdhry, said:

"To see the Redbridge monument as an established peace location is rewarding.  The location is where the blood of Kashif Mahmood still pricks our collective conscience as we remember how his life was saline for a simple childish petty jealousy.

"More has to be done to bring communities together by building bridges we remove fear and suspicion which is the root cause of hatred and violence.

"Before the participants of the multi-faith peace walk I reminded them that "We must be the change we wish to see in the world," a quote from peace campaigner Mahatma Gandhi.

"I hope that all those gathered will have been inspired by the location and it's deep significance, If we use the painful memories of the bloodshed on our streets as a spur for change we can make a difference."

Hannah Chowdhry, said:

"At 14 years old I am as old as many of the victims who have been killed on our streets, this is a gruesome concept for me and I hope my small effort can help take away some of the anger and bitterness in the world.

"I can't imagine the anguish that Kaship, Charlotte, Jack, and many teenagers since have gone through as they felt their life fade away from them. I just pray it does not happen to any more.

"I was one of many children to have small mosaics placed into its base of the monument, being here at 14 really hit home - how cruel violent crime can be.  It kills the victims but destroys many other lives.  

"Moments like this that remind us of the errors of our past are an effective way to prevent other young people from falling into the same social trap."  


Bushra Tahira from RDWA also spoke about the pain she felt when she learnt about the murder of Kashif Mahmood. 

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