Alleged Charlie Hebdo gunman links ‘agony’ for Finsbury Park Mosque
- Credit: Archant
The boss of Finsbury Park Mosque has spoken of his ‘agony’ over alleged links to one of the Paris gunman.
Various reports today claim Cherif Kouachi, 32, suspected of storming the Charlie Hebdo magazine’s offices and gunning down 12 people on Wednesday, was recruited by Djamel Beghal - said to have been a regular at the St Thomas’s Road mosque in the late 90s.
Both Kouachi and his brother Saïd are thought to have been killed in a stand off with police this afternoon.
Once a hotbed of extremism, and the stomping ground of hook-handed hate cleric Abu Hamza, the mosque has undergone a huge transformation since the current owners took over in 2005, and is now a respected community institution.
Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of the mosque, said: “This is more pain for us and more pain for the community.
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“We feel this agony every time anything happens everywhere in the world, it gets linked to us.
“I can’t speak about before 2005, but while we have been here we can categorically say this man has not been here.”
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Mr Kozbar said Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islingotn Council and Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North, have called to offer their support.
A statement released by the mosque said: “We wish to make it clear that we unequivocally condemn this week’s killing in Paris, which is a barbaric act and goes against the very teachings of Islam. Such violence has no place in a civilised society.
“We would also like to point out that any attempts to link our mosque to at least one of the men suspected of carrying out the attack are completely false.
“We have no information about any connections he had with those who ran the mosque previously.
“Anyone who visited Finsbury Park Mosque in any capacity prior to February 2005 did so under the previous management which was removed after a very public struggle against it. The facts of that struggle are well-documented elsewhere.
“Over the last decade Finsbury Park Mosque has become a key part of the local community, and works alongside many different groups and faiths.
“The current trustees and management have been commended for making the mosque a vibrant and active centre for all.”