Jewish community groups have condemned an attack on Muslim worshippers near a mosque by a man in a white van, being treated as terrorism by police said.
One man died after the driver, described as a large white man, targeted people near the Finsbury Park Mosque in north London early on Monday.
Witnesses described hearing the man, who was detained by members of the public at the scene, shout: “I’m going to kill Muslims”.
Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said: “This is being treated as a terrorist attack.”
Mr Basu said eight people are in hospital and two others were treated at the scene.
All of the casualties were Muslims, he added. He said: “The attack unfolded whilst a man was receiving first aid from the public at the scene; sadly, he has died. Any causative link between his death and the attack will form part of our investigation. It is too early to state if his death was as a result of the attack.”
The attacker struck as the area was busy with worshippers attending Ramadan night prayers at the mosque.
Board of Deputies of British Jews president Jonathan Arkush condemned the attack, “which appears to be a terrorist incident. He said: “Our heartfelt sympathy, thoughts and prayers are with the victims. This weekend, the Jewish community joined Muslims and others up and down the country for the Great Get Together in memory of Jo Cox. All good people must stand together and join in rejecting hatred and violence from wherever it comes. The way forward is to strengthen the moderate majority and repudiate and marginalise extremism of every type. Hatred of people because of their religion has no place in our society.
Following the attack, Simon Johnson of the Jewish Leadership Council said: “We utterly condemn this vile, terrorist attack at the Finsbury Park Mosque last night. To target those at worship or observing their faith is a betrayal of our British values of tolerance, respect and kindness, on which our society is built. Our hearts go out to the victims.”
Mark Regev, Israeli Ambassador to the UK tweeted: “#FinsburyPark was a vile terror attack targeted against worshippers during Ramadan, a month of peace. Israel stands in solidarity w/London.”
A spokesperson for the Zionist Federation condemned the “ugly attack”, adding that “terrorism is terrorism whether it comes from the far-right, Islamists or any other form of extremism”, urging everyone to “stand together in the fight against hatred”.
Rabbi Herschel Gluck, president of Shomrim, a Jewish neighbourhood watch group, was at the police cordon to show “solidarity” with the community. He told the Press Association: “We have very good community relations here. “(My reaction was) deep shock and deep concern about the ramifications of this terrorist atrocity.
“On one hand, I feel the people deeply appreciate our presence here and feel reassured that we are here with them, but on the other hand a lot of anger and frustration that members of their community have been attacked.”
Senior rabbi of the Reform Movement, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner condemned the attack and offered “prayers of condolence and strength to those affected”. She added: This is not true Britain; this is abhorrent. We must stand together against Islamophobia and all forms of incitement, fighting hatred and extremism wherever it occurs. Today we stand with our Muslim friends in solidarity and unity”.
The European Jewish Congress’s President Dr. Moshe Kantor condemned the “unconscionable attack on Muslim worshippers during their holy month of Ramadan”, adding that “an attack on one religion is an attack on all religions and all people and faiths must stand together against terror.”
Rabbi Mendy Korer, Director, Chabad-Lubavitch of Islington, said: “The Jewish community of Islington is saddened by the news of the horrible attack in Finsbury Park, and stands together with our Muslim brothers and sisters. Islington is made up of different nationalities and faiths. We have got to know so many wonderful people that do so much to keep the fabric of our community together. Let’s not allow this atrocity to break us apart. We live together, we celebrate together and we mourn together.”
— Shomrim N.E. London (@Shomrim) June 19, 2017
Fiyaz Mughal, the founder of Tell Mama, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “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. We saw that very clearly after Manchester, a very high peak, we saw that clearly after London Bridge, we didn’t see it after Westminster.
“So the answer to that is yes, these peaks of anti-Muslim hate incidences reported in do go up in very high numbers after terrorist incidences.”
A police forensic tent erected at Finsbury Park in north London, where one man has died, eight people taken to hospital and a person arrested after a van struck pedestrians.
Photo credit: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
One witness described being surrounded by bodies in the wake of the attack outside the nearby Muslim Welfare House.
Another witness, who wanted to be identified as Abdulrahman, which is not his real name, told the Press Association: “I managed to get the driver of the van.
“He wanted to run away and was saying ‘I want to kill Muslims’.
“So he came back to the main road and I managed to get him to the ground and me and some other guys managed to hold him until the police arrived, for about 20 minutes I think, until the police arrived.”
Abdulrahman claimed the driver said ‘Kill me’, as he was being held on the ground.
Mr Basu thanked members of the public who detained the driver, saying “their restraint in the circumstances was commendable”.
The driver has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.
Mr Basu added: “Given the methodology and given what was occurring, what’s happened, the tragic incidents across the country, this had all the hallmarks of a terrorist incident.
“That is why the counter-terrorism command were called out to investigate.”
Video posted online of the aftermath of Monday’s attack showed a scene of chaos as people tried to help the injured.
One man could been seen giving CPR to a victim in the street, while another man’s head injury was treated with a makeshift dressing.
People could be heard shouting and screaming amid the chaos, and bloodstains were visible on the pavement.
In one video, a group of men are seen holding the suspect on the ground as they call for the police.