LONDON – Prime Minister David Cameron declared today that Britain faces a battle to find its moral compass following four days of riots that left five people dead, thousands facing charges for violence and theft, and at least $350 million in property losses.
Cameron said senior ministers of his coalition government would spend the next few weeks formulating new policies designed to reverse what he described as a country being dragged down by many citizens’ laziness, irresponsibility and selfishness. He said “the responsible majority” was demanding that the government build “a stronger society.”
“This has been a wake-up call for our country. Social problems that have been festering for decades have exploded in our face,” Cameron said in his prepared remarks for a planned morning speech. “Do we have the determination to confront the slow-motion moral collapse that has taken place in parts of our country these past few generations?”
He issued his call hours after several hundred residents of Birmingham, England’s second-largest city, rallied for peace and racial unity in memory of three Pakistani men run over and killed during last week’s riots there. Asian, black and white locals joined hand in hand with police officers during the ceremony.
Birmingham police also charged a third suspect with the murders of Haroon Jahan, 20, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31.
The three men died Wednesday after a car struck them at high speed as they stood guard outside a row of South Asian-owned shops in west Birmingham, 120 miles northwest of London. The attack raised fears of gang warfare between the area’s South Asian and Caribbean gangs because residents identified the assailants as black. But public appeals for no retaliation have helped to keep passions at bay.