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Finsbury Park terror attack: 400 say ‘no to extremism’ at vigil

PUBLISHED: 23:02 19 June 2017 | UPDATED: 10:14 20 June 2017

Mohammed Kozbar speaks outside Finsbury Park Mosque for the vigil in the wake of the Muslim Welfare House terror attack. Picture: Catherine Davison

Mohammed Kozbar speaks outside Finsbury Park Mosque for the vigil in the wake of the Muslim Welfare House terror attack. Picture: Catherine Davison

Archant

Four hundred people crowded outside Finsbury Park Mosque tonight for a vigil in the wake of the Seven Sisters Road terrorist attack.

Zainab Ali Khan, who grew up in Finsbury Park, is pictured under the Seven Sisters Road bridge shortly before the Muslim Welfare House opened its gates. Picture: Catherine DavisonZainab Ali Khan, who grew up in Finsbury Park, is pictured under the Seven Sisters Road bridge shortly before the Muslim Welfare House opened its gates. Picture: Catherine Davison

Shortly after, the Seven Sisters Road bridge, which had been closed since the van attack outside Muslim Welfare House at about 12.20am today, was opened. And Muslim Welfare House opened its gates for hundreds of mourners to lay flowers.

One man, said to be a father of six, died in the incident. Nine worshippers were injured. Darren Osborne, 47, has been arrested in connection with the incident.

A vigil was hastily arranged outside Finsbury Park Mosque, which is just around the corner from Muslim Welfare House in St Thomas’s Road.

An ashen-faced Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of the mosque, took to the microphone to shout: “We will not let this divide us.

Hundreds attended the vigil outside Finsbury Park Mosque in the wake of the Muslim Welfare House terror attack. Picture: James MorrisHundreds attended the vigil outside Finsbury Park Mosque in the wake of the Muslim Welfare House terror attack. Picture: James Morris

“Yesterday we all experienced a horrific attack on our families, on our freedom, on our dignity. A man, a father of six children, being killed in cold blood and many injured by an extremist, by a terrorist.

“With the help of all community leaders, like Jeremy Corbyn, to faith leaders, we become stronger and more united against those who want to divide us.”

Referring to the turnout, Mr Kozbar added: “What a great response from our community. Muslims. Christians. Jews. Saying no to racism. No to extremism.

“Finsbury Park Mosque is not only for worship, but a community centre for all faiths and backgrounds.”

Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick at the vigil outside Finsbury Park Mosque. She chose not to speak. Picture: John Stillwell/PAMetropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick at the vigil outside Finsbury Park Mosque. She chose not to speak. Picture: John Stillwell/PA

He was watched by Cressida Dick, commissioner of the Met Police. She was stood behind him, but chose not to speak at the vigil.

Ali Milani, vice president of the NUS, who worships at the mosque, added: “When attacks like this happen, often the narrative is one of British society and Muslim society. This attack has reminded us there is no divide. It has reminded us of a community that believes.

“Seeing hundreds of you here today reminds us Finsbury Park will always be on the right side of history. Unfortunately an elderly man went to worship yesterday but never went home to his six children. We will be damned if we let our ideals die.”

Highbury East Cllr Caroline Russell, who was stood at the front of the crowd, said after the 20-minute vigil finished: “This community is multi-cultural. It’s a testimony to the work Mohammed Kozbar has done to make the mosque part of the community.

“When any of us heard the news last night or this morning, we felt it was an attack on our community. All these people turning up tonight, after work, shows they care. It’s because Islington is tolerant and open.”

Soon after, the police cordon was taken down at the Seven Sisters Road bridge, yards away from Finsbury Park Mosque. Mourners then made their way to Muslim Welfare House to pay their respects. Among those present was campaigner Brendan Cox, husband of murdered MP Jo Cox.

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