‘Why I believe we must unite against hate’

Community spirit: Finsbury Park is one of London’s most diverse areas. © Getty
by Mohammed Mahmoud

As imam of the Muslim Welfare House in Finsbury Park, Mahmoud had just finished leading prayers on Sunday night when someone told him that people had been run over outside. Mahmoud has since been hailed as a hero.

There was chaos in Finsbury Park on Sunday when a terrorist drove a van into a group of Muslims. But their imam, Mohammed Mahmoud, was able to calm the angry mob. These are his own words.

On Sunday night, as many of you know — and through the video evidence that has been shared on social media — we arrived on the scene within minutes after the accident.

We found the assailant on the floor. He’d been restrained by around three people. The injured and deceased brother, they were being tended to and CPR was being administered on them.

We found that a group of people quickly started to collect around the assailant, and some tried to hit him — either kicks or punches.

In times of tragedy people come together and unite. It’s proof that the fabric of this society is not torn.

By god’s grace, we managed to surround him and to protect him from any harm. We stopped all forms of attack and abuse towards him that were coming from every angle.

By coincidence, while the people who were tending to the injured were calling, the emergency services police van drove past, so we flagged them down.

We told them the situation: that there’s a man, he’s restrained, he mowed down a group of people with his van and there’s a mob attempting to hurt him. If you don’t take him, god forbid he might be seriously hurt.

So we pushed people away from him until he was safely taken by police into custody and put into the back of the van. And that’s all that we did. It wasn’t me alone. There was a group of brothers who were calm and collected. They managed to calm people and to extinguish any flames of anger or mob rule that would have taken charge had this group of mature brothers not stepped in.

The assailant didn’t say a word from when I arrived to when he entered the police van.

He seemed calm.

He was white — I can’t tell from where though.

Obviously it’s a tragic and barbaric terrorist attack. All life is sacred. I just heard now that he’s said that he “did his bit”: it may be proof that this demonisation of the Muslim community at the hands of those who have ulterior motives and wish to divide this country — and wish to divide this great city — has succeeded.

To some extent they have influenced the vulnerable and impressionable into thinking that we are barbaric and that we are people who like to shed blood and therefore we must be eliminated and exterminated.

This is on par with the London Bridge attack, which was obviously a terrorist attack — and one that we condemn — and we hope that in times of tragedy people come together and unite.

It was actually touching. My neighbours woke us up this morning just to give us their support and to say that they are there for us. Our non-Muslim neighbours. So it’s proof that the fabric of this society is not torn.

We continue to keep the fabric of the society and this community of London intact, and come together like we did for the Great Get Together on Saturday — and other Great Get Togethers in the future, hopefully.

This community of ours is a mild-mannered, calm community, not known for their violence. Our mosques are incredibly peaceful. I can assure you we will do our utmost to calm down ill intentions.

You Decide

  1. How do Mohammed’s words make you feel?

Activities

  1. Create a piece of artwork as a tribute to the victims of the attack in Finsbury Park.

Word Watch

Assailant
Now identified as Darren Osborne, a 47-year-old from Cardiff. He has been arrested for attempted murder and terror offences after mounting the pavement and driving into a group of Muslims. Witnesses say that he said “I want to kill Muslims.”
Injured
Nine people were taken to hospital for their injuries after being hit by the van. Some of these are critically injured.
Deceased
One elderly man had already been taken ill on the street — and was being helped by passers by — when he was hit. He later died, although it is not known if this was caused by the attack.
London Bridge
On June 3rd, three men ran over innocent people on London Bride. They then ran to restaurants and pubs in Borough Market, where they stabbed more people. Eight were killed and 48 injured in the attack. The attackers were Islamist terrorists.
Great Get Together
A nationwide community event which took place in honour of Jo Cox, an MP who was murdered by a far-right extremist in Britain one year ago. The event was inspired by Cox’s mantra: “We have more in common than that which divides us.”

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