Announced the Tariq Jahan Foundation
After travelling back from war torn Syria, a local hero has urged the public not to turn their backs on the country.
Having been invited by international charity Human Appeal, Tariq Jahan accompanied by United Birmingham’s Atif Iqbal, took the trip to the Middle Eastern country.
When asked on why they decided to go to the country, Tariq replied, “We were approached by Human Appeal. We wanted to help. What we saw still affects us to this day. We are grown men and it still makes us cry. To see children with their arms and legs blown off is horrible and it did bring back memories for me (about Haroon) it felt like these were my children. It is a 24 hour war zone over there and people tend to forget that over here. They have seen so many traumas. Their families have died before their eyes and yet people are still positive, they have amazing strength considering the circumstances they are in, but a lot more needs to be done to help them.”
Atif Iqbal added, “We have the ability to highlight other people’s hardships and to alleviate that hardship; even in a small amount. The response that we have had from the UK people has been phenomenal. It doesn’t really hit you until you go to “no man’s land” We entered in to places which have just been clustered bombed two hours ago. At that point it dawned on me that we are entering in to a war zone. You can smell burnt flesh.”
Whilst talking to the duo they narrated the story of one brave and courageous 12 year old Syrian girl named Alla. “In the most unexpected places you would meet people who would inspire, influence and motivate you. Courage and bravery is restricted neither by size or age. We sat down and spoke to Alla and asked her, ‘How many people were injured when the bomb hit your village?’
‘Alhamdulillah, only me.’
After telling the young girl about his story, Tariq was taken back by her reply, “I will do dua that Allah will accept Haroon as a shaheed (martyr). There is no doubt that we are under extreme hardships in this moment of time but are we to cry all day? No no no. We will not cry. We will remain happy and smile under Allah’s grace.”
Tariq also had a very firm message to British citizens intending to go out to the country for extremist reasons. “To the youngsters who are going out there to fight I would say to them if you want to do jihad come with me: I will take you out there and you can help out your brother and sisters rather than killing yourself.”
He also took the opportunity to announce the creation of the Haroon Jahan Foundation in memory of his son who died during the UK riots of 2011 alongside brothers Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir.
“After the incident you sit down and get time to think. We decided to set up the Haroon Jahan Foundation to leave a positive legacy for the boys. The basics ethos behind it is to help young people. We want young people to realise and achieve their full potential.
Atif added, “A lot of our communities are living as single-heritage, single-ethnicity and single-faith; we want young people to learn about other faiths and religions. There is no integration taking place. Activities include behaviour control, finding out what their skills are. We are currently looking for a building which will hold a gym, workshops.”
However, building the foundation does bring back difficult memories for Tariq; particularly the night of August 9th. Asked if the speech was something he felt he had to do that day, he replied, “You have to remember that it was six hours after Haroon had passed away and you are going through all these emotions. There was a lot of anger and aggression inside me but there was also this calmness inside me. Something took over me; call it divine intervention, but it made me say those words. There was a lot of frustration at that time. We are indeed looking for justice. I will never give up. I have two fights in my life – to clear the name of those three boys and to leave a positive legacy with this foundation.”
“I remember Haroon once said to me he would be a millionaire before he would be 21 and I said that as long as it is not drugs that’s fine!”