A Finsbury Park mosque leader made an impassioned speech calling for love and unity in the face of extremism just 48 hours before the terror attack outside the Muslim Welfare House.
Held to commemorate the one year anniversary of the death of Jo Cox, Finsbury Park mosque general secretary Mohammed Kozbar called on people to work together to stop atrocities including her death and the recent attacks in London.
“Both extremists do not represent us, do not represent our communities, do not represent our faiths. They are tiny minority, a bunch of murderers who only represent hatred, division and racism,” Kozbar, whose mosque is just streets from the scene of the attack, told crowds on Saturday.
He also pointed to interfaith efforts to help people following the attacks and the funds raised to the victims of Grenfell Tower by the local Muslim community to show how they were working in the late MP’s spirit.
Muslim Welfare House, in Finsbury Park, north London, was the scene of a terror attack of the early hours of Monday when a van ploughed into pedestrians, killing one and injuring 10.
Just 48 hours prior to the horrific attack, the mosque held a Great Get Together event as part of a campaign commemorating Cox.
Finsbury Park mosque general secretary Mohammed Kozbar gave a poignant speech to the crowd on Saturday, in which he talked about different types of extremism and how such people were a “tiny minority, a bunch of murderers who only represent hatred, division and racism”.
He added that it was the spirit of unity which Cox, who was in killed in a terrorist attack by a white supremacist in her constituency last year, promoted and which the community must continue to push.
A year ago, Jo Cox murdered in a cold blood by an extremist
Since that time we have witnessed other attacks from another type of extremists.
Both extremists do not represent us, do not represent our communities, do not represent our faiths. They are tiny minority, a bunch of murderers who only represent hatred, division and racism.
This is why it is the time more than ever to stand up to these extremists who wants to divide our communities and spread hatred between us
This is why we should all work together to make sure we do not experience another incident like the murder of Jo Cox or Manchester or Westminster.
We have seen in the last few days a brilliant example how communities can get together, since the tragic incident of west London fire,
We have seen how people get together, comfort each other, help each other.
We have seen how mosques and churches opened their places to those families affected by this and lost almost everything.
We have seen young Muslims coming from late prayer during Ramadan alarming the residents to leave their homes and rushed to help them evacuate the building,
We have see charities from all faiths and backgrounds rushed to provide food and shelter to the families.
We have seen mosques fundraised tenth of thousands of pounds to the victims
Our mosque raised around £3500 so far and we will keep doing that as long as there is need for that. This is our duty toward those poor people who lost everything, and this is the least we can do.
This is the spirit we need to promote, the spirit which Jo Cox tried to promote and she lost her life because of that, the spirit of love, compassion and peace. Not the spirit of hatred, division and racism.
Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council told HuffPost UK that the event was “very typical of Finsbury Park”.
He said: “It was hosted by Muslim Welfare House but it was organised by the Islington Faiths Forum, which represents Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and other faith communities. There were a lot of local residents from all faiths and none who were coming together with a message of support for our communities and shared values, as well in memory of Jo’s appalling murder, not wanting to let hate divide us.
“Partly I feel anger that someone has tried to undo all of the good work that has been done in Finsbury Park over many, many years by the Muslim Welfare House, Finsbury Park Mosque and all of the local community.
“But also I feel a great deal of confidence in the good people of Finsbury Park and Islington that they will not succeed in that. The fact that we know each other and like each other, events like the Great Get Together on Saturday showed that and give us the strength of community for me to know we’re going to get through this.”
Kozbar spoke on Monday afternoon about the incident.
He said: “On Saturday 17th June as part of the Jo Cox Foundation Great Get Together, members of Islington differing faith communities gathered at Muslim Welfare House on Seven Sisters Road.
“We met to remember Jo Cox, to honour and celebrate her affirmation that we all have more in common than we have things which differentiate us. We met to celebrate our friendship and our cooperation for the good of our neighbourhood.
“Less than 48 later this same area experienced a terrorist attack aimed at killing Muslims returning home after their Ramadan prayers. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the person who died and with all those injured and traumatised by this event.
“An attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths and communities . Those who try to divide us and who aim to spread fear hatred and division will not succeed.
“The communities at Finsbury Park Mosque and Muslim Welfare House are a valued part of the Isling Faiths Forum. These communities are places of welcome.
“We pray, especially for the leaders of these two communities. May we and they continue to stand together in these challenging times.”
Rosalind Miller, from the Islington Faiths Forum, said that the event had been a brilliant way to bring people together.
She told HuffPost UK: “We had such a wonderful mix of people that day, so many people from different faiths there that day and different sections of the community. Everybody found it really useful, it was a really positive event. People came in who hadn’t really come in before and our lovely welcome meet-and-greet people at the front were talking to other people as they were walking past to tell them what it was about. So to have this this morning was awful.
“There are a lot of us who work together in Islington from all different faiths and all different sections of the community. We work a lot together so to have this happen this morning is just awful but we will continue to work very closely together, this won’t stop us doing that. It will probably give us occasion to work even harder.”
Cox’s husband, Brendan, also tweeted in the aftermath of the attack...
The strength of the inter-faith community was on show on Monday, with a local church offering people a play to pray following the attack:
There has been a wave of messages from Finsbury Park locals expressing their love for their area...
One person died and a further ten people injured after a driver ploughed a van into a group of Muslim worshippers in north London on Monday in what police are treating as a terrorist attack.
The 47-year-old driver of the van, who has been arrested on suspicion of murder, was detained by members of the public, police confirmed.
Worshippers were injured as they left the Muslim Welfare House on Seven Sisters Road, in Finsbury Park, after midnight prayers during Ramadan. Eight people injured have been taken to hospital.
The man who died was already receiving first aid from members of the public and it is not yet known if his death was caused by the attack, Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Neil Basu said.