W.Midlands

    Young people get creative with best of Birmingham's South Asian culture

    DESI MOVES - the award-winning youth arts participation programme celebrating streetwise South Asian sounds and styles - is back this summer as part of UTSAV: the Year of South Asian Culture.

    How do young Brummies of South Asian descent feel about the way their city is depicted in the national media? How can they respond creatively when ex-EDL frontman Tommy Robinson and others make a film about the ‘Islamification of Birmingham’ in Sparkbrook?  How do they feel about BREXIT? About the opportunity to be creative in Birmingham?

    DESI MOVES launched with two Q&A’s featuring Birmingham’s top GRIME artists; DAPZ ON THE MAP and JAYKAE in Aston and Sparkbrook. DAPZ ON THE MAP gave a surprise performance of a track from his new EP, ‘Champion Champion’. BBC-playlisted JAYKAE discussed his online public debate with Tommy Robinson, and when he took all his fans out for a NANDOs meal after a gig.

    DESI MOVES is now moving into a season of no-cost music-based creative training programmes, pop-up events, exhibitions, and hands-on creative making opportunities exploring where South Asian culture meets the street. Dozens of young people have already signed up to free music workshops at the LIGHTHOUSE in Aston (Wednesdays) and CONCORD in Sparkbrook (Mondays and Tuesdays) weekly until the end of June, just in time for live performances in July at the Birmingham Mela.

    DESI MOVES 2017 also features creative collaborations with FLATPACK PROJECTS and Birmingham-based filmmakers BVU. DESI MOVES is being documented by local photographer SAFFIYAH KHAN forming the basis of a unique new touring exhibition.

    PUNCH CEO, AMMO TALWAR MBE said, “Birmingham is home to many vibrant South Asian communities, and one thing that brings the youth together is our music. In the last ten years, London has proved it is the home of GRIME. DESI MOVES will prove that Birmingham is the capital of DESI. We’ve heard the sound of London E3; this year it’s the turn of Birmingham B20. Making great music and art and with all the city’s communities is our response to the EDL and other haters.”

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    Gunman named Ghengis Khan jailed for firing at empty house

    A gunman called Ghengis Khan who fired a gun at an empty family home in Coventry has been jailed for almost 10 years after police proved he was the shooter.

    Genghis Khan, 26, of Towpath Close, opened fire at the house in Lauderdale Avenue in Coventry in the early hours of the morning on May 10 2016; shattering the front door and a window. A month later he discharged a sawn-off shotgun at a car parked outside the house.

    Khan poses with a gun.
    Khan poses with a gun.

    Detectives then uncovered a neighbourhood dispute involving Khan, and two days after the car shooting West Midlands Police raided his home. In the search police uncovered 36 shotgun cartridges, and under his bed they discovered a loaded sawn-off shotgun stashed alongside a bulletproof vest. More evidence was found on Khan’s phone, which contained photographs of him posing with a sawn-off shotgun and incriminating text messages. Ballistics experts then matched evidence recovered from the shooting to cartridges found in a Khan’s home.

    At Warwick Justice Centre, Khan admitted possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and drugs supply after cocaine valued at £9,000 was also found at his home. He was jailed for a total of nine years and four months.

    Detective Constable Steve Phillips from West Midlands CID, said: “Quite what the dispute was about is unclear – but whatever the issue there can never be any justification for recklessly discharging a firearm in public.”

    “We quickly identified Khan as a suspect and amassed a catalogue of evidence against him. In one of the SMS messages we found on his phone he boasted about being “strapped” – street slang for having a gun – and that he was “locked and loaded”.

    He added: “Thankfully no-one was hurt in the shootings – but despite that he’s been handed a jail term approaching 10 years. That shows how seriously firearm discharges in public are viewed and should send out a powerful message that this type of intimidating behaviour won’t be tolerated.”

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    Raise funds for famine relief

    By PARVEEN AHMED

    Islamic Relief is hosting a series of fundraising events, open to all faiths, in aid of the East Africa famine.  16 million people in South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are on the brink of starvation and children are dying from malnutrition and preventable diseases.

    ‘The 21st-Century Muslim: A Balance between Hope and Fear’ events in Manchester, Bradford, Birmingham and Croydon, will each feature a talk by esteemed American scholar and cleric Sheikh Yasir Qadhi. His lecture will address the challenges of being a Muslim in the second decade of the 21st century. Dr. Qadhi, described by The New York Times Magazine as being “one of the most influential conservative clerics in American Islam”, teaches at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.

    Imran Madden, UK Director of Islamic Relief, said:
    “As we prepare for the holy month of Ramadan we invite everyone – Muslims and non-Muslim friends alike – to attend a fascinating talk by one of the most esteemed Muslim scholars of our time.  We hope as many as possible will join us for what will be a very enjoyable and thought-provoking evening that will also raise funds for our life-saving aid work in East Africa.”

    The fundraising will take place in Manchester on 28 April, Bradford on 29 April, Birmingham on 30 April and Croydon on 1 May 2017.

    Tickets for each event can be booked by visiting:
    http://www.islamic-relief.org.uk/events/21st-century-muslim-a-balance-between-hope-and-fear

    To donate to Islamic Relief’s East Africa Crisis Appeal:
    http://www.islamic-relief.org.uk/current-appeals/east-africa-appeal

    Islamic Relief is one of the 13 UK charities that form the DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee).

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    Pride of Birmingham present award to the Midland Langar Seva Society for selfless community work

    By PARVEEN AHMED

    The Midland Langar Seva Society was awarded with the TSB Community Partner Award.  Pride of Birmingham honours unsung heroes of all ages who do extraordinary things to help others. Founders Randhir Singh Heer and Parmjit Singh Bahyia received the Award on behalf of the charity, and its volunteers, at a dinner hosted by TV presenter and campaigner Katie Piper. This year’s event was attended by celebrities including Ross Kemp, Nitin Ganatra and Jamilia. However the pair remain modest. Parmjit said: “I feel very humbled at receiving the award. There is a true feeling of togetherness and love for all my brothers and sisters who have made it possible to achieve this”. Randhir was equally moved: “I feel absolutely overwhelmed as we did not expect the award at all. This will help raise awareness for homelessness and mental health, and may inspire others to do the same as us”.

    Jubilant volunteers, including third from right Parmjit Singh Bahyia, Sharon Heer, Randhir Singh Heer and Dal Padda.
    Jubilant volunteers, including third from right Parmjit Singh Bahyia, Sharon Heer, Randhir Singh Heer and Dal Padda.

    Rooted in Sikh tradition the Midland Langar Seva Society provides langar (food) and seva (voluntary donation and distribution). Open kitchens in the temple cook vegetarian food and distribute it daily to the homeless and anyone in need, regardless of background. A team of volunteers serve around 5,000 meals a week across 15 towns and cities. The team provide hot food and clothes in Walsall, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Coventry and Leicester. Midland Langar Seva Society volunteer Dal Padda told the Asian Standard people from all walks of life have generously given their time to help:

    “Our volunteers come from all different backgrounds, and we have children as well as the elderly who feel they want to do some seva. We have teenagers who are doing their Duke of Edinburgh Award, who volunteer with us.”

    For the charity’s founders and worshippers to the temple, their motivation and passion is deeply rooted in their faith.

    “The Midland Langar Seva Society has become very important for a lot of people. As Sikhs we are encouraged to do seva and help those that are less fortunate than ourselves. It allows inclusion of the younger generations to come out and volunteer and integration of different faiths working together towards a common goal; to eradicate hunger.”

    Refugee children receive goody bags from Randhir Singh Heer in Greece.
    Refugee children receive goody bags from Randhir Singh Heer in Greece.

    The organisation does not accept cash for seva langar. They rely on local people donating food, and to support school breakfast clubs.  In times of crisis the Midland Langar Seva Society provides vital warm food and clothing to people temporarily displaced by natural disasters. A team was sent to the aid of people evacuated from their homes after the heavy flooding in Slough and Sommerset. Now in a separate project they are keen to get their hands on a bus to renovate into a dry seating area for people to eat during rainy wet weather, and for this they will accept donations. Dal said:

    “The charity does not take any monetary donations for the food that we serve, but will do so for their project of the Guru Nanak Langar Bus. This will allow service users to eat their meals somewhere dry when the weather is not so good.”

    The team of volunteers also provides seva langar abroad; travelling to assist in refugees camps in Greece; one with Syrian refugees and another for Afghans in Schimatari. The also flew to assist people in earthquake-hit Nepal. A team also volunteers in Delhi and this year they will turn their attention to California.  Dal told us: “The charity is expanding rapidly and the Midland Langar Seva Society could not do that without the continued support from you all.”

    Winners from the regional Pride of Birmingham Awards will also go forward to the judging process for the Daily Mirror’s Pride of Britain Awards, in partnership with TSB, which will be screened on ITV in the autumn.

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    Judge heavily criticises nightclub for kicking out drunk teenager who was then abducted and raped on streets

    A judge has heavily criticised Snobs nightclub in Birmingham after ejecting a 'drunk student' who was then abducted and horrifically raped.

    Judge Mary Stacy accused Snobs of being partly to blame for the attack after the 19-year-old victim was 'abandoned' in the city centre to be picked off 'like prey'.

    It is believed that bouncers removed the University of Birmingham student from the venue after she collapsed and became seperated from her friends. A court heard how she was then lured into a transit van by Zaheer Abbas, 30, and Sajad Hussain, 35, and taken to an industrial estate where she was brutally raped and assaulted in an hour-long ordeal.

    Abbas was jailed for 11 years after being convicted of rape, while Hussain was sentenced to six years after being found guilty of sexual assault.

    Sentencing at Birmingham Crown Court, Judge Stacy criticised the management at Snobs for the venue's cheap drinks promotions and accused them of acting 'irresponsible towards their customers'.

    She said: "Something needs to be said about Snobs nightclub. We have heard how the establishment carries on serving drinks to students who have had far more than enough to drink.

    "They then fail to take responsibility for the students, they removed [her] after she collapsed inside.

    "Snobs abandonded her on the street where she was prey to the likes of Abbas and Hussain. The security officer is not personally to blame, it was a failure of Snobs itself to fail to put procedures in place, for example by arranging taxis to take them [students] home.

    "The disregard for customers allowed for the circumstances for this crime to occur."

    The judge said that the case called into question the club's fitness to hold a licence, and referred the venue to licenscing chiefs at Birmingham City Council. She also vowed to contact colleges and universities warning them of Snobs' cheap drinks promotions targeting 'young and vulnerable students'.

    She added: "This was a deeply destressing case. The distress on the face of the jurors was all too evident and understandable."

    Abbas was convicted by a jury last December, while Hussain was convicted last month. Both trials were shown chilling CCTV of the pair outside the club before the attack.

    Jurors heard the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was ejected by Snobs' security staff at around 3.30am on February 20 last year.

    Abbas and Hussain, along with others, were then seen leading her to Abbas' transit bain. She was then driven to an industrial estate in the Nechells area of the city where she was raped by Abbas and sexually assualted by Hussain. The horrific ordeal lasted over an hour before the twisted pair dropped the victim back at her student accommodation.

    The court heard the student, who had been a virgin, had since dropped out of her course at the University of Birmingham.

    Judge Stacy told the wicked pair: "What you both did to her had devastating consequences. After achieving her goal of getting into a top university,  because of your actions she has dropped out.

    "She no longer goes out on her own and feels wary and fearful.

    "She was clearly abducted, she had to be held up and was unable to walk unaided. She was totally incapable.

    "Abbas, you took her virginity from her which can never be reclaimed, you took her innocence, and ruined her time in Birmingham.

    "Both of you have shown no remorse and have cynically attempted to portray her as a sexual predator, when the exact opposite was true."

    Abbas, of Small Heath, Birmingham, and Hussain, of Bordesley Green, Birmingham, denied doing anything wrong but were both convicted by seperate juries.

    The judge praised their victim who endured two trials, saying: "I pay tribute to her strength and courage coming forward. Her bravery and dignity impressed everyone at court.

    "Her actions resulted in you both being brought to justice."

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