Two people have been seriously hurt after a car mowed down worshippers outside a London mosque in the early hours of this morning. Police say the attack was Islamophobic and racist but, controversially, they aren’t treating it as a terror attack.
The attack happened at the Al Hussaini Mosque in Cricklewood, north London, which serves a community that is mainly of Iraqi Shia origin.
Speaking at a press conference this afternoon Brent Police Superintendent Simon Rose said: “Yesterday the Al Hussaini community had a large community event to commemorate Ashura. At around half past midnight the security team from the mosque challenged a group of individuals who were in a car parked in Oxgate Lane. The stewards were subjected to a tirade of Islamophobic and racist abuse and an altercation then took place.
“The people who had been challenged then drove at members of the community and a car mounted the pavement twice and two people have been seriously hurt although the injuries are not thought to be life-threatening. It is being dealt with as a critical attack, as an Islamophobic and racist attack, but it is not being treated as a counterterrorism incident.”
Mustafa Al Balaghi, of Al Hussaini Mosque, added: “Imam Hussain was defiant against terrorism and he was defiant against hatred. Whether it be now or 1400 years ago we have the same issues such as social justice and Hussain has taught us to be resilient. We request all members of the public to stay calm and not fuel any retaliations.”
Eyewitness Ali Salman said the driver tried to kill him and those he was with.
“The car came at us force, towards us trying to get us, literally trying to run us over. They weren’t trying to get away, they were trying to run us over. My friend tried to jump out of the way and miraculously he survived, although as far as we were concerned he was gone. Then we started running after the car and the car went full speed at a group of people on the pavement and ran them over like dominos.”
Commenting on the attack the Islamic Human Rights Commission called on the police to do more to protect Muslims from Islamophobic attacks outside their places of worship.
IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh said: “It is about time that the police stepped up to the plate and gave the Muslim community the same level of protection afforded to other vulnerable communities when there are events held in their places of worship. Not doing so sends a signal of indifference and only encourages bigots to carry out more hateful attacks.”