Leeds; '˜#IffysWorld can be a beacon for all communities in dark times'

The grace shown by a Leeds community and its young people in the aftermath of the killing of one of their beloved sons can be a beacon for all others in times of tragedy.

Friday, 17th February 2017, 11:18 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st March 2017, 8:39 am

That was the message from politicians in Harehills today as the inner city suburb started the healing process after the death of teenager Irfan Wahid.

The popular 16 year old - known as Iffy - died in a street stabbing last Friday. A 16-year old boy has been charged with this murder.

Thousands of people turned up at Iffy’s funeral on Thursday, with his father Wahid Fazil issuing an inspiring message of peace, unity, calm and forgiveness.

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East Leeds MP Richard Burgon, who was at the funeral, said while the issue of knife crime was “something that needs looking at”, the focus should be on the dignity of Irfan’s family and the response of his friends.

“As someone who lives here, I know for a fact that this is a fantastic community and it’s shown that in this dark time,” he said.

“Harehills is passing the test.”

Mr Burgon said it had been “humbling” and “inspiring” to see and hear Iffy’s’s father speak.

“I was in the Bilal mosque when I head Irfan’s father speak just before the coffin of his son was brought into the room, and he said that he forgives the person who did this to his son, who took his son from him and his family.

“To hear the father say that is quite inspiring and really humbling.

“There’s nothing worse than a parent losing a child, and there’s no worse way to lose a child than in these horrific circumstances.

“So I believe that in these dark and tragic times, the community of Harehills is proving it is a decent place, and at this most difficult of times, it shines even more.”

Councillor Asghar Khan, who chairs the Inner East Area Committee, also praised Iffy’s family.

He said that the authorities working with the family - and with local youngsters - from the early stages had helped ensure calm, and the area had already gained a lasting, postive legacy from the most unbearable of events.

“The unity and building bridges and working together with young people, that’s really important for the future,” he said.

“Violence and gang culture needs to be pushed away now and pledges have been made to avoid those things.

“As chair of the Inner East Area Committee, I have already had a conversation with the leadership of Leeds City Council.

“Let things settle down for a while, and we will have a strategic level meeting focusing on Harehills and across Leeds so that we can tackle this going forward.”

As reported yesterday, Iffy’s friends and peers in Harehills have been chanelling their grief positively, by fundraising for charity by selling sweatshirts bearing their beloved pals’s name, and using the hashtag #IffysWorld to promote peace.

Teenager Khuzaifa Ahmed, who grew up with Iffy, said: “Iffy’s World is everything that he did. He was humble, he was peaceful, he never did anything bad to anyone.

“Iffy’s World stands for making everyone unite together in peace. Obviously for all of us youngsters, this is a lesson. This just tells you violence is not the solution.”