Tributes have been paid to the Tooting pensioner who died following a racist attack outside the mosque where he worshipped. Ekram Haque, 67, was standing with his three-year-old granddaughter outside the Idara-e-Jafferiya mosque in Church Lane, Tooting, on bank holiday Monday when he was attacked about 9.50pm. Mr Haque, a Muslim who lived locally and previously worked in a local home for the disabled, sustained serious head injuries and died on Monday. His granddaughter Miriam was unhurt.
Police, who are looking for a group of black youths, confirmed the attack on Mr Haque and two others was racially motivated and have linked it to another incident days earlier.Born in Calcutta, Mr Haque moved to Belfast, where he met his wife in 1972, to work in the textile industry. The couple had a son, Arfan, and moved with their young son to London in the early 80s.
Despite the couple separating years before, Mr Haque was still close to his wife when she died last year.He was working as a warden in a care home for elderly and disabled Asians, until November when he retired. He had used the Idara-e-Jafferiya mosque for 25 to 30 years and helped out organising burial for families.
He was upset about retiring but was enjoying looking after Miriam, his son Arfan, said. He said: “He looked after her in the week, I hope that it gave him some happiness.”
Mr Haque had planned to take his granddaughter on holiday to Pakistan and Australia, his son said, and was devoted to his community.
“He was a kind and loving person who would always go out of his way to help anyone who needed support. He had a community approach to everything,” he said.“My father loved living in Britain. He considered himself a Londoner.” Friends described Mr Haque as a very religious ‘gentle giant’ who had been involved with the mosque for 25 years.”
Tooting MP Sadiq Khan, who visited Mr Haque in hospital, said: “Ekram was a lovely gentle man. He did huge amounts of community work asking for nothing in return. I worked with him on a number of matters over the last few years and he still had so much to offer. His premature death is a tragic loss to his family but also to the wider Tooting community who were richer for his activism and are now much poorer from his death.”
A spokesman at the Idara-e-Jafferiya mosque said: “He was a member of our community for 25 to 30 years. He was at the mosque at every occasion but for the last two to three years he has been coming with his granddaughter.He was quiet man, easy to talk to and we never saw him angry. He was a humble person.”
The deputy mayor of Kingston, Councillor Shiraz Mirza, who also worships at the mosque, said: “He was a lovely man, he would always ask about people and even children who knew him would call him uncle. When my relative was going to university and was looking for accommodation he said he had friends in the area and gave him a number. That is the kind of guy he was.”
Anyone with information on the attack should call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Four teenagers appeared in youth court on Tuesday. A 15-year-old, and two 14-year-olds were charged with the murder of Mr Haque and two counts of ABH. The fourth boy, aged 12 was charged with conspiracy to commit GBH and two counts of assault.
Paul Cahalan, Wandsworth Guardian