One man is confirmed dead and seven others injured after a white van was driven into a crowd of Muslims near Finsbury Park Mosque in London last night.
A 48-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. But emerging reports have stated that the “only reason (the alleged attacker) is still alive” is because of the actions of an imam that protected him from aggression before his arrest.
The driver reportedly shouted “ I want to kill all Muslims ” after he ploughed into a gathering crowd who had just retired from a prayer session. Shortly afterwards, he was restrained by members of the public. But before the police arrived, the people at the scene were angry.
Mohammed Mahmoud, a 30-year old imam from the nearby Muslim Welfare House, helped calm the situation. He stopped the crowd from punching the suspect, and formed a protective circle around him until his official arrest 20 minutes later .
“He is a hero. He wanted the man brought to justice,” said Mahmoud’s 23-year-old sister, Marian. “He is a peaceful, good Muslim. His actions don’t surprise us. He does not want more violence.”
The extraordinary decency and courage of this act has brought me to tears this morning. I hope this imam gets the recognition he deserves. https://t.co/SR5u6RRHG9— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 19, 2017
Within 14 minutes of the tragedy , 60 paramedics had arrived at the scene. It took just eight minutes for the attack to be declared as a “terrorist incident,” according to a speech made by British Prime Minister Theresa May.
“The imam came from the mosque and he said, ‘Listen we are fasting, this is Ramadan, we are not supposed to do these kinds of things so please step back,’” said Mohammed, the 29-year-old owner of a nearby cafe who claimed to the Guardian that he helped hold the attacker down. “For that reason this guy is still alive today. This is the only reason.”
Finsbury Park attack: 'People were hitting [the attacker] and the Imam came out to tell them not to and to call the police.' pic.twitter.com/nyoxlAh7Mc— Victoria Derbyshire (@VictoriaLIVE) June 19, 2017
May has said that the Finsbury Park attack is “every bit as sickening” as other recent terror incidents. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn offered condolences too, as he arrived “visibly distraught” at the scene within his own constituency.
According to Tell MAMA , a mosque is attacked, on average, every two weeks in the UK. Imam Qari Asim, a member of the UK government’s Islamophobia working group, said that hate had increased “five-fold” since the London Bridge attack. Brendan Cox, widower of murdered MP Jo Cox, has said that Islamophobic violence must be treated in the same way as Islamist inspired terror.
Extremism is extremism, no matter what form it takes.