At least one person was killed and 10 others were injured when a van was driven into worshippers early morning on Monday near a north London mosque in what police have called a “major incident“.
“Over the past weeks and months, Muslims have endured many incidents of Islamophobia and this is the most violent manifestation to date”, said Harun Khan, head of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella body.
Sky News reported that the mosque’s imam prevented the crowd from beating the attacker until police arrived. “An attack on one community is an attack on all of us”, Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said.
– Where did it take place?
A leader of the Muslim Council of Britain has called for extra security at mosques after a van struck worshippers leaving prayers at the Finsbury Park mosque. The mosque was once a notorious hub for radical Islamists that has since become a centre for inter-faith outreach.
It is located a short walk away from Emirates Stadium, home of the Arsenal football club in north London.
– Who is the suspect?
Authorities said officers arrested the 48-year-old driver of the van, who had been detained by members of the public at the scene. Khalid said he went into shock after the collision happened and others on the scene had to lift the van in order to remove him.
“He has been taken to hospital as a precaution, and will be taken into custody once discharged”. Eight of the injured were taken to hospitals and the rest were treated at the scene.
Police, including armed officers, could be seen manning a wide cordon around the area, while others searched the area with sniffer dogs.
May said that the attack on Muslims was “every bit as insidious and destructive to our values and our way of life” as the recent string of terror attacks apparently motivated by Islamist extremism, adding: ‘We will stop at nothing to defeat it’.
Manchester was also hit in May when a bomber killed more than 20 people at an Ariana Grande concert.
– Why are many residents angry?
Police issued an initial statement at 01:03 am (0003 GMT) saying a vehicle had collided with pedestrians.
– The Metropolitan police’s Counter Terrorism Command forces are investigating the incident.
Witnesses described seeing between eight to 10 people lying on the ground near to the Muslim Welfare House on Seven Sisters Road.
“An advance trauma team from London’s Air Ambulance has also been dispatched by vehicle”, the statement said.
“If you were interested in targeting a group of Muslims at a mosque that was notorious, this would be the mosque you would do it at. I call on all Muslims to be extra vigilant following these hateful Islamophobic attacks and to be cautious”.
It was several hours too late for numerous Muslims who had witnessed the incident.
“I saw a man underneath the van”.
There’ll be plenty of debate as to whether the Muslim community under possible attack was treated differently. For these reasons, London Mayor Sadiq Khan (the city’s first Muslim mayor who expressed disgust and fury at the London Bridge terrorists for what he deemed an appropriation of his religion) has declared the mosque-targeting incident as a “horrific terrorist attack”.
She was later due to chair a meeting of the national Cobra emergency meeting to discuss the latest attack.