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Extra security rolled out at Finsbury Park Mosque in wake of Christchurch attack – as chair calls for government to 'wake up'

PUBLISHED: 18:28 18 March 2019 | UPDATED: 18:55 18 March 2019

Mohammed Kozbar at the vigil for the Christchurch attack. Picture: Oliver Barnes

Mohammed Kozbar at the vigil for the Christchurch attack. Picture: Oliver Barnes

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The chair of Finsbury Park Mosque was in a “resilient and reflective” mood after speaking at the inter-faith vigil for the Christchurch terror attack on Friday evening, calling on the government to “wake up and see Islamophobia as it is, and actually tackle it”.

Mohammed Kozbar. Picture: Mohammed KozbarMohammed Kozbar. Picture: Mohammed Kozbar

Speaking to the Islington Gazette after crowds gathered in solidarity outside Finsbury Park station at rush hour, Mr Kozbar said the death of 50 Muslim worshippers in New Zealand “brought very difficult memories to the minds of the Finsbury Park community”.

“I had to admit I cried in the morning,” he said, “because what’s happened is beyond imagination and beyond belief for someone to go and film it live on Facebook, killing innocent people – men, women and even children.”

In 2017, a man died and another 12 people were injured when Darren Osborne, who’s now serving a life sentence, drove a van into pedestrians after Friday night prayers at the Muslim Welfare Centre – just down the road from Mr Kozbar’s mosque.

“The fact the attacker in New Zealand mentioned Darren Osborne is very significant because he’s taking him as a role model,” said Mr Kozbar. “He’s been inspired by Osborne, by Trump, by Tommy Robinson and all these far-right extremists, and this is a concern because I’m sure he’s not alone.”

Mohammed Kozbar at the vigil for the Christchurch attack. Picture: Oliver BarnesMohammed Kozbar at the vigil for the Christchurch attack. Picture: Oliver Barnes

Mr Kozbar criticised politicians and the media for “feeding this far-right extremist narrative”. “We will end up with horrible events, like what’s happened in New Zealand, happening here if we’re not careful,” he said.

Mr Kozbar, who is also vice chair of the Muslim Association of Britain, singled out the Conservative party, saying that “Islamophobia runs deep within the party’s ranks.” He added that Boris Johnson’s comments about niqab-wearing Muslim women “directly contributed to the spread of hate”.

Finsbury Park Mosque will also “have extra security for the foreseeable future,” according to Mr Kozbar.

The chair of the mosque also asked for further reassurance from the authorities after London mayor Sadiq Khan promised “highly visible policing around mosques” and “armed response officers” in the immediate wake of the events in Christchurch.

“We are British citizens, we are no less than others and we would like to be treated the same way like others,” he said.

“Other faiths have some sort of protection as they should have – there is a risk of attack on them and we want the same because we face the same risk.”

Follow Oliver Barnes on Twitter.

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