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Finsbury Park mosque warned about anti-Muslim hate crime three days before van terror attack

The Independent logo The Independent 5 days ago May Bulman
© Provided by Independent Print Limited

​Muslims at Finsbury Park mosque were warned about Islamophobic hate crime by a watch group just three days before a terror attack outside the mosque, which killed one man and injured 10.

Staff from organisation Tell MAMA had been at the Muslim Welfare House mosque on Friday, informing the congregation about the need to report anti-Muslim hatred and to maintain their safety during Ramadan.

They had urged members of the local congregation to maintain vigilance during Ramadan, when many observing the holy month wear clothes that identify them as Muslims.

Eight people were taken to hospital after a van ploughed into worshippers outside the mosque just after midnight on Monday morning. They had been helping a man who had collapsed and has died, but it is unclear whether this was as a result of the attack.

© Press Association

A 48-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. Police said all the victims of the attack were Muslim.

Following the attack, Iman Atta OBE, director of the watch group, said they had distributed safety leaflets to mosques, and warned that Ramadan is a time when Muslims are more "visible", urging that safety in mosques should be "stepped up".

Related: Finsbury Park witness: I saw so many people shouting (Video provided by Sky News) 


“We have put out numerous safety leaflets to mosques to ensure vigilance so that congregations are safe," he said.

“Ramadan is a time when Muslims are more visible and when there are larger congregations who attend late at night to pray after opening their fasts. Mosque safety needs to be stepped up and this includes entry and exit points.”

The Muslim Welfare House mosque in Finsbury Park has previously been the target of anti-Muslim hate crimes. A security alert was triggered when it was sent white powder.

Fiyaz Mughal, founder of Tell MAMA, told Radio 4's Today programme on Monday morning that anti-Muslim sentiment has been on the rise in recent weeks and the group anticipated an attack, and that the watch group had been “expecting something to happen”.

He said: “The sad reality is that I was on this mosque on Friday myself explaining to 50 Muslims in that very area to say to the congregation, 'Please report anti-Muslim hatred'. We’re not getting much stuff in.

“Sadly we were expecting something to happen. The way it works is pretty much there are very large spikes or spikes, we call them measurable spikes, after major terrorist incidences, so Islamist extremist incidences create the largest spikes we see."

Prime Minister Theresa May described the terror attack as “every bit as sickening” as recent ones to hit the UK, while London Mayor Sadiq Khan denounced the attack as “an assault on all our shared values of tolerance, freedom and respect”.

The Metropolitan Police said the eight injured people were taken to three separate hospitals, and two people were treated at the scene just after midnight for minor injuries.

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