AN EAST Oxford man has set out to celebrate the city’s rich cultural diversity and bring people together by creating a flag to promote racial unity.

Amir Steve Ali designed and paid for the flag which carries greetings and messages of peace in seven languages around a globe supported by a sea of hands of different skin tones.

He hopes to fly his ‘unity flag’ from a pole or lamp post on Cowley Road, and has asked the city council for permission.

The father-of-three, who works at the Rice Box restaurant on Cowley Road, said: “I am not a councillor or community leader, just a member of the public – but I wanted to do something to bring people together and bring a smile to people’s faces.”

“The world today is full of misunderstanding and lack of trust. If one person does something wrong, whole communities are blamed. But we are all human beings with the same blood colour and the same goals in life.

“There is more that unites us than divides us. We should share our love of life and celebrate all together – whatever our religion, or none.”

Mr Ali is a member of the Bangladeshi community and a Muslim but has previously spearheaded successful campaigns to brighten up Cowley Road for Christmas.

In 2019, he successfully campaigned for Eid lights to be left on to also celebrate the festive season and last December he paid for Cowley Road’s first Christmas tree. He said: “Cowley Road is such a special place, made up of many individuals from all over the world so I wanted to do something special for everyone.”

In February he joined staff at the Rice Box in celebrating the Chinese New Year with bright decorations.

Amir Steve Ali has made a flag celebrating racial harmony for all the people of East Oxford. Picture by Ed Nix

Amir Steve Ali has made a flag celebrating racial harmony for all the people of East Oxford. Picture by Ed Nix

His flag carries messages in Chinese, Arabic, Hindi, Swahili, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and English.

He said he would eventually love for the flag to be reproduced and hung along the road, but for now would be content to see his vinyl banner flown on the busiest stretch of the road.

He said: “This is just a way of letting people know we are united and to cheer people up. I only have one flag at the moment, but it would be fantastic to see them all along the road. It’s a small way of spreading love and reminding people we are all together.”

Read again: Amir goes it alone to brighten up Cowley Road for Christmas

Oxford City Council said: “We welcome Mr Ali’s aim to promote racial unity, and we have been in discussions with him about alternative ways to display the flag or source funding. His original proposal to fly the flag from a lamp post would need the county council’s permission to install on their street lights as landowner. Under national planning regulations he would also need advertising consent, which carries a fee. These fees are set nationally and we do not have the ability to waive or reduce them.”