The father of one of three men killed during the London riots has helped ease the tension in Birmingham by pleading with people not to retaliate, an Anglican bishop of the community said.

"If you asked me that question 12 hours ago, I would have been very unclear about it really," Andrew Watson the Anglican Bishop of Aston, told CBC News when asked about possible retaliation.

"I think I felt things were a bit on a knife's edge," said Watson, who went to a mosque and attended two community meetings about the killings.


Tariq Jahan holds a picture of his son Haroon Jahan, who was one of three men killed during the riots. (Rui Vieira/Associated Press)

"There were many people in this meeting, speaking up in terms of not rising, standing above. There were also voices, angrily encouraging some kind of retaliation," Watson said. 

"And one thing that tipped it — the vigil last night was very helpful — The one thing that tipped it is the father of the youngest man to be killed saying it wouldn't do his son's memory any good at all if more violence were to be perpetrated there."

A vigil was held Wednesday night in Birmingham, where three men, aged 21 to 31  were killed in a hit and run while trying to protect stores from being looted. 

Tariq Jahan, whose 21-year-old son Haroon was killed, stood in a Birmingham street and pleaded with the South Asian community not to seek revenge.

"Today we stand here to plead with all the youth to remain calm, for our community to stand united," he said.

"This is not a race issue. The family has received messages of sympathy and support from all parts of the community — all races, all faiths and backgrounds."

Watson said he believes the family of the two men killed — two brothers —  would also make a plea for calm.

"I think they will, yes. They were very obviously so distraught that they weren't thinking in those terms."

Watson said the uncle of the brothers was critical of the policing methods.  But he said a meeting with police, who explained the challenges from their perspective, was helpful.


With files from The Associated Press