An annual peace art competition in tribute to Shahbaz Bhatti has been launched in Ilford, Essex

Shahbaz Bhatti’s memory will live on in the London Borough of Redbridge after an annual peace art competition was launched at St Peter’s and Paul’s Catholic Primary School in Ilford.

A trophy was presented to Yasmin Nwofor, who won the competition with a design that included an image of a dove.

When asked about her inspiration for the design, Miss Nwofor said: “My design included a dove as it is an international symbol of peace, surrounded by colours representing the diverse people of Redbridge.”

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Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association organised the peace art competition with headteacher James Johnson earlier this year. The idea was to seek an opportunity to preserve the legacy of the slain federal minister of minorities, who spoke out against the persecution minorities face in Pakistan and was killed for his opposition to the controversial blasphemy laws of Pakistan. Through local group the East Ilford Betterment Partnership the winning design will be inserted into the base of a new peace monument that was installed at the location of the stabbing of a local teenager, in September last year.

A plaque with Shahbaz Bhatti’s own words will describe his bravery and courage in the face of much provocation: “I can be assassinated. I can be killed. But I will continue to follow the principles that I believe. I will continue to raise the voice of the voiceless.”

The trophy was presented on March 2 by anti-violent crime group leaders and the designer of the peace monument who intended.

Mr Chowdhry said: “It is fitting that Shahbaz Bhatti should be remembered in this way. He inspired so many to think of others’ more than themselves and promoted interfaith peace. He was a champion for education and held a strong conviction that education could take Pakistan out of its societal nadir. Shahbaz Bhatti’s words will be inscribed in our streets for longevity and this annual art competition will sustain his legacy of peace through many generations.”

Plans are afoot to develop this pilot scheme into a borough-wide art competition with an annual art display of the best entries in Ilford Central Library.

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