Habib Rahman, the newly elected Bangladesh-born mayor of Newcastle, UK, said he had no hate for the man who murdered his father in a racist attack over a curry 44 years ago.
Rahman and his family visited the murder site for the first time this week where he made the remarks, reports BBC.
In 1977, 10 days after arriving from Bangladesh via London, Rahman’s father Azizur was stabbed in a café in Wallsend.
The new mayor said he and has family had forgiven killer Norman Patterson, who was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Patterson had returned to the restaurant operated by Azizur’s brother, armed with a knife, after being dissatisfied with the amount of his meal, according to a murder trial at the time.
He stabbed Azizur to death and was sentenced to prison for manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.
Rahman, who was three years old at the time of Azizur’s death, told the BBC North East & Cumbria Impact Team he was outraged by the hatred directed at his father in a “cold and calculated” act of “brutal racism.”
However, speaking outside the restaurant more than four decades later, Rahman said: “We’ve got no hate for the person that did that.
“He has served his punishment, if I may add perhaps not the punishment he should have deserved, but that was back in ’77 where, if I’m brutally honest, institutional racism was at the forefront of it, but nonetheless the law of the land spoke, he has served his sentence.
“We’ve got no animosity or ill-feeling or hate for him or his family,” he added.
Rahman also said visiting the site of the killing was “very raw.””All of us are so sadly and dearly missing him, but at the same time all of us are saying to dad sitting above, ‘Hey look, we are here, this is a lot better place than when you departed and this is the closure.'”
Rahman, who came to Newcastle when he was 12, described his mother as a “tower of strength and a true symbol of humanity” who had led the family in forgiving the perpetrator in accordance with their Islamic beliefs.
The mayor said he had suffered racist abuse as a child in the city, but now that he has returned to the site of his father’s murder, he feels safe.