• Thursday , 23 November 2017

Don’t let them divide us!

I’ve been haunted all weekend by just how close we came in Tipton at 1.06pm on Friday to someone – or more than one person – being maimed or killed.

You’ll all know from news reports of the nailbomb that went off  precisely then near the Kanzul Iman Masjid mosque in Binfield Street at a time when it would normally been full of worshippers.

As I write police investigations are continuing and it’s too soon to know everything about something which bears all the hallmarks of  a vile and cowardly attack.

But fair-minded people of all communities will rightly condemn it.

They will join me, too, in giving thanks that luckily – and it seems to be more by luck than judgement – no-one was hurt, or worse.

We must all support police as they continue their investigations. Our aim must be to bring those responsible to justice by tracking them down and putting them before the courts.

Inevitably, we all reflect on what such an outrage means for our community as a whole.

I believe we must all keep one thing uppermost in our minds – a determination not to allow the people who did this to succeed in their aim of dividing us.

Extremists on all sides hate unity and thrive on division.

We must deny them.

We are proud of the settled relations that communities in Tipton have enjoyed for many years.

Our best way of defeating extremism is to stay calm and make sure that those relations continue.

That’s why I’ve been heartened by the response to Friday’s attack  from the mosque itself, from faith leaders from all religions and from members of the local community.

It’s been one of solidarity, togetherness and calm in the face of a shocking incident.

My fellow council member, Ian Jones, has said it’s been a case of “business as usual” – the best way to respond to those seeking to disrupt community life. I agree.

In this context, I can do no better than quote Imam Ghulam Rasool from the Kanzul Iman Masjid mosque, who said on Saturday:

“Yesterday a senseless act tried to divide us. Today, we respond united together and more determined to come out stronger in condemnation of extremism and in maintaining and further strengthening existing good community relations in the borough. For those who wish to divide us and fringe elements that may wish to exploit this situation we have this message:

“We are One Borough, One Community that remains united in defiance of extremism wherever it may come from; united in support of strong community and interfaith relations and united in our belief that this is a borough and country that values freedom of speech, expression and religious co-existence. Acts such as these will only strengthen our resolve and not break it.

“To the wider community we say this: Let’s continue to go about our lives not intimidated by fear or violence, not provoked by senseless acts of extremism or terrorism designed to undermine our borough’s harmony and cohesion.

“The people of Tipton and Sandwell will never succumb or be seduced to senseless acts or initiatives designed to spread fear, messages of hate and division that bring disharmony to our communities.”

NB: The council has been working behind the scenes since Friday to do what we can on the ground in Tipton to help.

Among other things we

  • responded immediately to a police request to set up a rest centre at Coneygre Centre on Friday as a place for those who were evacuated from the scene to go to;
  • supported police with signs for the road closures in the area cordoned off;
  • found overnight accommodation for families who could not return to their homes; and
  • supported police in getting messages and updates to the community via social media.

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  • Dan July 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Well said – hear him, hear him – we’re one community, one nation.
    The Prime Minister – boo, boo – usually so quick to preach that ‘we’ are in it together offers nothing but a conspicuous silence. Is this leadership?

  • Kevin Cox July 15, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    You are so out of touch in Tipton .It has been divided for years this area,we have had signs put up in the park whites not allowed,White families threatened if they went on the park,There has been gang fights at alex school,but all this has been covered up by council and police.I have lived in Tipton for 54 years, I have asked all 3 councillors for help to clean up our estate and get rid of weeds but to no avail they can not be bothered to reply to me.But they could not run fast enough on Friday it is a wonder how Ian Jones found his way to Tipton we normal only see him when he is aftre our vote. I hope the people who did this are caught and charged quickly but they are 2 communities in Tipton not just 1 and there has always been this way.

  • darrencooper July 15, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    It may seem divided in your mind. The great people of Tipton live and work and play together. I have never heard of signs with whites only, in the Park. And neither have the police.
    If you got a beef with poor Council Services then contact my Office and we will deal with them.
    I’m really pleased you hope they are caught. At least we agree on that.

    However Cllr Rowley tells me where your politics lie,so don’t put this kind of rubbish on my blog or I will block you.

  • juliet antwi July 15, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    hello how are you all i won’t you to add me to your friends thinks

  • john July 16, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Mr Cooper your “team” as turned Tipton into Sandwell and its a mess unemployment schools housing its all a mess RESIGN

  • Kevin Cox July 16, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    I,m sorry if you feel I did not come across better.I have to praise all the council workers who responded on the day with diversion equipment and opening conygre as an emergency centre.It shows all your forward planning for emergency practices work.Has for cllr Rowley he does not know where my politics lie has I have never spoken with him about them he would not know me if he saw me in the street.I support what you are doing and think since you became leader you have done a lot for Sandwell and helped bring in some good changes.It was such a pity that a greater mix of people could not have been shown together in the press to show a better working and unite front of the people of Tipton. Sorry again if it came across different.

  • darrencooper July 16, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Thank you for your comment Mr Baker but I won’t be resigning anytime soon.

  • darrencooper July 16, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    No worries Mr Cox thank for your kind remarks. I will make sure they are passed on to the staff and Council. Take your point about a better cross section of the community. But to be fair the media pick and choose who they want to speak to.

  • John August 11, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Dear Gordon said he was going to make all men equal , Now I now he meant all equally broke , uneducated and unemployed while under Labour ,lol

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