On the morning of July 6th 2005, Sabir Bham stood at Liverpool Street Station in the heart of the City of London. Later that day, Trafalgar Square, just a few miles away, would erupt in celebration as the capital was revealed as the host of the 2012 Olympic Games. Exactly 24 hours later, a Circle Line train travelling from Liverpool Street would erupt under the explosion of the first of four bombs planted on tube trains and a bus in London, by extremists acting falsely under the guise of Islam. In two days, two events that would shape the next seven year’s of Bham’s life occurred.
Over the following weeks, a number of high-profile arrests of residents were made in his local borough of Waltham Forest in relation to the attacks. The situation continued to remain bleak; in the aftermath of the attacks, Bham was invited to Downing Street as a reward for outstanding community work. However, due to the negative representation of British Muslims, fellow Londoners showed visible distress as Bham entered the tube carriage on his way to the reception. At this very moment, Bham knew that change was needed. Salaam Peace was set up by Bham following discussions with the Metropolitan Police Service, the Home office, social business Catch 22, and community groups to support the implementation of the Government’s Prevent Violent Extremism Agenda in East London.
Initially set up to change the perception of British Muslims, Salaam Peace has evolved into a wider community engagement programme. Our portfolio of programmes takes place in Waltham Forest, Hackney, Newham and Haringey, engaging children from age 3 to adults in their 60s, using sport and education to tackle socio-cultural issues.
Salaam Peace deliver projects including school and college-based programmes, evening/weekend/holiday sessions, sports teams, study support sessions, community events, outreach programmes, female-only sessions, disability-only sessions and more.
After hearing Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) speak about using his music to promote positive images of Islam I thought I would do the same through sport. For me, sport is a great way to bring people together, develop friendships and build respect. I have seen the positive impact of our work and seen others use our, so-called, philosophy or way of working, to then go on and work with other people. Seeing challenging individuals develop into fantastic young adults has been the biggest satisfaction.
Salaam Peace is a remarkable example of how a person’s determination to promote the universal values of peaceful coexistence and social justice has resulted in a reality that has been transforming lives in East London for many years. A window of opportunity for all to engage in and bring change to the causes we feel more passionate about in the spirit of mutual respect and inclusivity. As Sab’s former university tutor and mentor, I am particularly proud of his achievements, based on investing further in the learning experience he gained while he was my student.