UK

Finsbury Park Attack: Residents Question Why Police And Media Took Time To Report Incident As Terror

Amid false claims outlets intentionally omitted terror link from reporting.

19/06/2017 15:45 BST | Updated 19/06/2017 17:38 BST

Finsbury Park residents have accused the police and media of a “cover up” after it took several hours to confirm Monday morning’s incident was a terror attack.

One person died and 10 others were injured when a van ploughed into a crowd of Muslim worshippers on Seven Sisters Road in the early hours. A man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

But while the incident has now officially been labelled a terrorist attack, that confirmation did not come for several hours, much to the frustration of people nearby.

Locals speaking to HuffPost UK described their dismay at initial reporting of the incident.

Standing with her mum near the scene of Monday’s attack, Emma Salem, 15, said: “I feel like if it was a Muslim man, whether or not they know who it is or whatever, it’s straight away classed as a terrorist attack. But because this was a white man I feel like the media especially try and cover it up. 

“First of all it was an attack on Islam. We’re all targeted now. ‘Muslims are terrorists’ - what can we do?”

“What’s happened, this is clearly an Islamophobic terrorist attack we can clearly say that. You can call it what you like, but we see this as an Islamophobic terrorist attack,” another resident, who didn’t want to be named, said.

How reporting of Finsbury Park attack unfolded

  • 1 AM: Police said a vehicle struck pedestrians and left several injured
  • 3:50 AM: Prime Minister Theresa May says it was a “terrible incident”
  • 5 AM, May confirmed police were considering the event a “potential terror attack”
  • 8 AM: Met Police said incident was being treated as a “terror attack”
  • 2 PM: Met Commissioner Cressida Dick says incident “quite clearly attack on Muslims - we treat this as a terrorist attack”

False claims

The anger came as false claims that publications intentionally didn’t report the incident as being terror related went viral on social media.

People compared headlines written in the minutes after news of Monday morning’s attack broke with those atop reports published following full court trials.

But journalists pointed out the important difference between the two.

Others described tweets critical of early reporting as “anti-media shit stirring”.

[READ MORE: Finsbury Park Attack - Everything We Know So Far]

Tensions flare

Reporters themselves provoked fury among locals on Monday morning with questions implying Finsbury Park was a hotbed of terror.

Beside the police cordon, tensions between local Muslims and reporters flared. In one altercation, an unidentified reporter cited Wikipedia as they questioned a man about the area’s prior links to terror.

The woman said: “Finsbury Park has a sort of historic name for terrorism... Abu Hamza.” Prompting a man to shout: “What? What are you talking about?” 

“I’m not making a suggestion, Wikipedia said...,” the woman added before being interrupted. Watch the clip, below.