Hundreds gather at Finsbury Park vigil
Hundreds of people came together Monday outside Finsbury Park Mosque in an act of defiance after a terrorist attack in north London.
On Monday night, hundreds of people offered prayers and messages at a vigil close to the scene where a van had plowed into a group of Muslim worshipers leaving Ramadan prayers.
One man died and nine people were hospitalized following the assault, just the latest in a series of terror attacks to hit Britain this year.
“These people, these extremists, their aim is to divide our communities, is to spread hatred, fear and division among our communities,” Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of the Finsbury Park Mosque, told the crowd.
“We all have harmony in this area, and these people try to divide us, but we tell them that we will not let you do that.”
Rabbi Herschel Gluck, who was on the scene in the immediate aftermath of the attack, told the public that the attack was “an attack on every single Muslim in the UK and beyond.”
“But really an attack on the Muslim community is an attack on every single citizen in Great Britain, because we are one nation, under one god, living together, working together, co-operating together in this country,” he added.
The vigil came after the driver of the van had been identified as Darren Osborne, 47, a resident of Cardiff in Wales, according to multiple UK media outlets.
The driver, a white man, was wrestled to the ground by members of the public and then arrested at the scene, officials said. He was being held on suspicion of terrorism offenses, police said.
By Tuesday morning, Finsbury Park had returned to some semblance of normality.
Students from Pakeman Primary School spent the morning looking at the tributes left at a makeshift memorial.
“As a community, we need to share love and tell the world to stop being cruel toward others,” Fatima, who is 11, told CNN.
Jehan, who brought a flower, added: “Everyone should be nice and not fight because of race, color, or religion. We should love each other.”
Their visit comes after an attack on the local Muslim community in the early hours of Monday morning.
Witnesses told CNN they saw a van driving at high speed along Seven Sisters Road after worshipers had attended late-night prayers at nearby mosques.
Abdikadir Warfa said the van turned into an alleyway and hit a number of people before coming to a stop. Images from the scene showed a white van wedged against a traffic barrier at the dead end of a street.
“I saw a man, he was underneath the van,” Warfa said, describing how his friends tried to lift the van to free him.
He said as he attended the injured, others grappled with the driver as he tried to run away.
Warnings of reprisal attacks
Finsbury Park, in the London Borough of Islington, is a bustling, diverse area of north London with a strong Muslim community.
Tell MAMA, an anti-Islamophobia group, had visited the nearby Muslim Welfare House on Friday last week to inform the community about the need to report anti-Muslim hate incidents and to consider their safety during Ramadan.
Monday’s incident is the latest in a series of terror attacks to have hit the UK in recent months.
On June 3, a vehicle and knife attack left eight people dead in the London Bridge area of the capital. In May, a suicide attack killed 22 people and injured nearly 60 after an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. And in March, a terrorist plowed his vehicle into pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge, killing four people, before stabbing a police officer to death outside Parliament. All three attacks appeared to be motivated by Islamist extremism.
The head of Tell MAMA, Fiyaz Mughal, warned of reprisal attacks against Muslims after major Islamist-inspired terrorist incidents.
“We saw that very clearly after Manchester, a very high peak. We saw that clearly after London Bridge,” he said.