Editorial comment: It’s time to drop Hamza narrative

Finsbury Park Mosque. Picture: KEN MEARS

Finsbury Park Mosque. Picture: KEN MEARS - Credit: Archant

It was billed as a “service of hope”, to honour the victims of the terror attack two weeks ago.

But you could forgive Harun Rashid Khan, one of the speakers at Finsbury Park Mosque on Monday, when his gentle tone suddenly flashed into anger.

Mr Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, began referring to certain media outlets which continue to associate Finsbury Park Mosque with the hateful Abu Hamza.

“I would like to draw a line under it,” he said, refusing to even mention Hamza’s name. “The past has nothing to do with us. We wouldn’t be here today otherwise.”

No one at the mosque denies it has an unfortunate history with Hamza, the hook-handed hate preacher who, as its imam, attracted extremism to Finsbury Park for eight years.

But today’s administration, led by chairman Mohammed Kozbar, is different – as mentioned time and time again in the Gazette’s pages. Twelve years ago, it was responsible for ousting Hamza, who is currently languishing in US jail. Where the mosque used to be hostile, it is now friendly and open.

So you can understand its exasperation when, immediately after the tragic attack, one headline on a major national news website read: “White van driver injures at least 10 people after ploughing into a crowd outside London’s Finsbury Park mosque where hate cleric Abu Hamza once preached as Muslims finish their evening prayers.”

Aside from being factually incorrect – the attack didn’t happen outside Finsbury Park Mosque – how offensive is it to drag up Hamza’s name when Makram Ali died and 11 of his fellow peaceful worshippers were seriously injured?

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“We have moved on,” said Mr Khan on Monday. It’s about time certain media outlets do the same.

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