The Finsbury Park imam’s heroism shows where London can find its strength19 June 2017 | 19:41 | The Guardian
Our thoughts are with the families of the victims and everyone affected by this latest terrible attack. Tragically, one person died at the scene yesterday, eight people have been taken to hospital with injuries and two others were treated for their injuries at the scene.
Once again, the police and the emergency services responded quickly and with the utmost professionalism. They were working at the scene throughout the night. I’ve said this many times over recent weeks, but it needs repeating: on behalf of all Londoners I thank our police and emergency services for the incredible and courageous work they do on our behalf.
This was clearly a deliberate attack on innocent Londoners, many of whom were returning from their evening Ramadan prayers. We don’t yet know the full motivations behind it, but terrorism is terrorism – no matter the target and regardless of what inspires the sick and twisted perpetrators who carry out these evil crimes.
I have been in regular contact with the Metropolitan police commissioner and other senior officers since shortly after the attack and they have deployed extra police to keep us safe and reassure all Londoners, particularly those observing Ramadan. The police will be taking additional measures to protect mosques, and stepping up their presence in other areas to ensure that people are not only kept safe, but also feel safe in their communities and places of worship.
I want to assure Londoners that this attack will in no way distract from other urgent work the police and emergency services are currently dealing with – including the vital recovery work at Grenfell Tower, the efforts to support the victims and local community in Kensington and the vital work ensuring we get justice. Like the terrible attacks in Westminster, London Bridge and in Manchester, the attack in Finsbury Park is an attack on us all – our shared values of tolerance, freedom and respect. We must crack down on extremism of all types – whether the twisted ideology of Islamist terrorism, or other forms of extremism.
Ramadan is an extremely holy time for Muslims – it’s a month of fasting, prayer, charity and empathising with others. Following another dark day for London, Muslims will today be fasting and tonight praying and thinking once again of the heroic actions taken by our emergency services and ordinary bystanders. The local community in Islington described to me how people wrestled the terrorist to the ground, but then how the local imam, Mohammed Mahmoud, ensured others did not harm him while they waited for the police to arrive.
These are the kinds for stories that give us hope. They show that our values, of justice and the rule of law, and our determination not to be divided, will always be stronger than the hate and terror of the extremists.
London has been through an incredibly difficult few weeks, but I know Londoners will remain strong and united. While we have been filled with great sorrow and anger at the unnecessary loss of innocent lives, we have also shown time and again our great resolve not to allow those who seek to divide us to succeed.
The best response we can show now as a city is to get out there and celebrate what’s great about London. This summer, we have an incredible array of amazing events for people to enjoy – celebrating sport, our culture and our way of life. From the World Athletics Championship, to tennis at Wimbledon to the Pride festival, to all the many local events across our capital. We should use them to celebrate the freedoms we enjoy – and to show to the world that we not only tolerate our differences, but we celebrate and cherish them.
This attack occurred almost exactly one year to the day that my friend Jo Cox was murdered. This weekend, I joined people from across the country at a giant picnic to celebrate Jo’s life and uphold her belief that we have far more in common that unites us than that which divides us. The Muslim Welfare House, next door to where the attack happened yesterday, also took part in this Great Get Together with people of all faiths and backgrounds coming together to celebrate this message.
It is more important now than ever that we focus on those things that unite us, that make our city so great – our values of tolerance and respect, our belief that our diversity makes us stronger. We must remind ourselves of these things, as they are the reasons why we can be sure that we will never allow terrorists to fuel division and we will never be defeated by those who seek to harm us and destroy our way of life.
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