ENDING A FAST: The iftar brought together people from all faiths and backgrounds in Batley
Multi-faith community comes together for charity and remembrance
An international charity based in Yorkshire hosted a special multi-faith iftar in Batley last month as communities came together in remembrance of Jo Cox MP and to raise money to help feed the hungry around the world.
The free event, titled ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ took place at Carlton Junior & Infant School at 7pm on Friday 24th June and was hosted by the Penny Appeal charity, featuring presentations, prayers and personal reminders from a range of guests.
Amongst those in attendance on the day were the Reverend Ann Pollard of Trinity Church, MP for Dewsbury and Mirfield Paula Sherriff and Leeds Makkah Masjid Imam Qari Asim MBE.
The iftar – the name of the evening meal that Muslims have to end their fast during Ramadan – began with a welcome by Carlton Junior school’s Ikram Butt and Shagufta Mirza.
This was followed by a traditional reciting from the Qur’an by Imam Asim, before Reverend Pollard and Ms Sherriff lead a remembrance piece for the late Jo Cox.
Ms Cox was tragically killed by a lone gunman just miles away from the primary school as she carried out her parliamentarian duties in the town of Birstall.
Carlton Junior school headteacher, Rizwana Mahmood, also paid her respects to the former MP prior to Maghrib prayers and the start of the iftar meal.
Harris Iqbal, UK Programmes Manager at Penny Appeal, said it was an event which brought out the best of the local community.
“The Love Thy Neighbour community iftaar in Batley was a truly exceptional experience,” he said.
“It was beautiful to see people of all faiths and none, and of different backgrounds and cultures, come together to break bread in the spirit of Ramadan.
“The blessed month is a time for hospitality, caring and sharing, as well as an opportunity to help others and create new friendships, so it was a pleasure to have the company of local councillors, MPs, faith leaders and residents and for everyone to come together in remembrance, celebration and charity.”
The event raised money for Feed Our World, Penny Appeal’s programme to provide nutritious meals to people in over 30 crisis-hit countries around the world. Donations can be made at any time by calling 03000 11 11 11 or visiting www.pennyappeal.org.
HEARTBREAKING SCENE: Police cordoned off the area where Jo was attacked; a pair of shoes can be seen left on the pavement.
The grieving husband of Labour MP, Jo Cox, who was shot and stabbed to death earlier this week, has called on people to fight ‘the hatred that killed her’ as detectives investigate whether her killing was politically motivated.
The ‘universally liked’ MP was murdered near a library on Thursday 16th June where she had been holding a constituency surgery in the town of Birstall - part of the district she represented.
According to eyewitnesses, she was shot three times, once near the head, and stabbed multiple times. A 77-year-old was also injured while trying to prevent her death.
She was left in a critical condition and died at Leeds General Infirmary approximately an hour after the attack at 1.48pm.
52-year-old Tommy Mair has been arrested in connection with her murder, he is believed to be a white supremacist.
On Friday Kirklees Imams & Mosques Advisory Board (KIMAB) issued a statement saying: “Early this afternoon we heard the devastating and shocking news of an attack on Batley MP Jo Cox which ultimately cost her life.
“She was a tireless campaigner for peace and justice and was a truly committed humanitarian and a most caring constituency MP who made a firm stand against all forms of racism.
“Our community has lost a truly great MP who will be sadly missed locally as well as nationally.
“Our heartfelt and deepest condolences to her husband Brendan, her two sons and family and friends at this extremely difficult time.”
The 41-year-old, who was elected to parliament in 2015, leaves behind a husband and her two children, Cuillin and Lejla.
INSPIRATION: Jo Cox was inspired by moral passion and had 'much more to give'
In a statement, her husband, Brendan Cox, said: “Today is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. More difficult, more painful, less joyful, less full of love.
“I and Jo's friends and family are going to work every moment of our lives to love and nurture our kids and to fight against the hate that killed Jo.”
He continued: “Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy and a zest for life that would exhaust most people.
“She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn't have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.
“Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full.”
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn was deeply saddened by the murder of his colleague.
He issued a statement which said: “The whole of the Labour Party and Labour family – and indeed the whole country, will be in shock at the horrific murder of Jo Cox...
“Jo Cox had a lifelong record of public service and a deep commitment to humanity. She worked both for Oxfam and the anti-slavery charity, the Freedom Fund, before she was elected last year as an MP for Batley and Spen – where she was born and grew up.
“Jo Cox died doing her public duty at the heart of our democracy, listening to and representing the people she was elected to serve. It is a profoundly important cause for us all. Jo was universally liked at Westminster, not just by her Labour colleagues, but across parliament.”
Police arrested a 52-year-old male suspect and are investigating reports of the suspect yelling “Britain first.”
Jo strongly supported women’s rights and campaigned for civilians in Syria.
She’d recently been campaigning for the UK to stay in the EU and had taken part in a high-profile event on Wednesday supporting the ‘remain’ campaign on the river Thames.
WHERE IT HAPPENED: The Labour MP was attending one of her surgeries at a library in Birstall when she was shot down and stabbed
Both EU referendum campaigns have suspended their activities until Saturday in response to the attack.
David Cameron Tweeted: “The death of Jo Cox is a tragedy. She was a committed and caring MP. My thoughts are with her husband Brendan and her two young children.”
This is the first killing of a serving MP since Irish Republicans murdered Ian Gow in 1990.
West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns Williamson, said: “This is a truly shocking incident but I want to reassure communities that our information is that this is a localised incident, albeit one that has a much wider impact.
“I must stress that investigations are ongoing, a man has been arrested, and we need to let the police do their job in understanding exactly what has happened that led up to this hugely tragic incident and channel all our thoughts into supporting the families and communities affected.”
MP Yvette Cooper said: “One of the liveliest, bravest and most passionate MPs. Thoughtful, creative, determined. Cannot believe we have lost you.”
MP Alan Duncan said: “Jo Cox was much loved by both sides. This casts a pall over all politics.”
Who is suspect Tommy Mair?
Tommy Mair is a 52-year-old man who has lived in the same house in Birstall for over three decades.
Neighbours say he has lived alone for the last 20 years, since the death of his grandmother, and that he tends to ‘keep himself to himself’.
According to a newspaper report about volunteering, published in the Huddersfield Examiner in 2011, Mair used to volunteer at Oakwell Hall Country Park in Birstall and is a former patient of the Mirfield-based Pathways Day Centre for adults with mental illness.
In his interview with the paper he referred to his mental health issues as he explained that he felt volunteering “has done me more good than all the psychotherapy and medication in the world.”
Mair was quoted as saying: “Many people who suffer from mental illness are socially isolated and disconnected from society; feelings of worthlessness are also common, mainly caused by long-term unemployment.”
TRAGIC: Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox has died at Leeds General Infirmary after being shot and stabbed
West Yorkshire MP Jo Cox has died following a gruesome attack in Birstall.
One eyewitness has been quoted saying they heard her attacker shout "put Britain first" at least twice beforehand.
The Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was left lying on the floor by her attacker, bleeding profusely from her wounds.
A 52-year-old man Tommy Mair, was arrested near Market Street, Birstall, West Yorkshire Police said.
The MP had been taken by air ambulance to Leeds General Infirmary, but she succumbed to her injuries and passed away.
It is understood the MP had held a surgery at Birstall Library before the attack.
Tommy Mair is believed to have sympathy with far right groups and his name appears to be linked to a South African patriot magazine which is a neo-Nazi publication.
Tommy Mair's half-brother, 41-year-old Duane St Louis, speaking outside his house in Dewsbury, said he couldn’t believe the news.
“I was watching Sky News and I recognised him in handcuffs on the ground. It felt like a dream. I just couldn’t believe he’d do something like that,” he said. “I phoned my mum and she was watching too. She tried to phone his mobile but couldn’t get through and she knew something was up.” Mair last visited his mother on Wednesday night to help her tune her TV, he said.
St Louis said Mair had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): “He was obsessed with washing himself. He would scrub his skin with Brillo pads.”
He insisted his brother had never expressed any racist views and seemed fine having a mixed-race sibling. Neither did he have any strong political views that St Louis was aware of.
Mair had been volunteering for the past few years at a school for children with disabilities, he said.
Jo's death has sent shockwaves throughout the country and prompted candle lit vigils and thousands of condolences coming in for her young family.