London Mayor Said Khan received rapturous applause today after telling a memorial remembering the Finsbury Park terror attack that “those who seek to divide us should know this: you will never succeed”.
Khan was speaking at Islington Town Hall in north London where a minute’s silence was held at 9.30am to commemorate the death of father-of-six Makram Ali, and for the dozen others who were injured on June 19 last year.
Far-right attacker Darren Osborne deliberately ploughed his van into a group of pedestrians as they left a mosque and was jailed for life earlier this year.
The 48-year-old named Khan during his nine-day trial at Woolwich Crown Court as someone, alongside Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, that he had wanted to kill.
Islington councillors, local faith and community leaders and emergency service workers who helped victims in the aftermath of the attack attended the commemorative event, along with several MPs.
Corbyn praised Muslim Welfare House imam Mohammed Mahmoud for his response to the attack, saying he made sure that “hatred and racism did not turn into violence and anger on the streets that night”.
Mahmoud ensured nobody attacked Osborne and that the shocked crowd remained calm in the aftermath of the incident until police were able to reach the scene.
“He helped to bring us together and that is the only response to the racism that tried to divide us,” Corbyn said.
Khalid Oumar, trustee of the mosque, thanked those who came to the aid of those affected by the attack.
Ahead of the event, Theresa May described the “cowardly attack” on innocent worshippers as “an attack on all of us”.
The PM said: “As with all acts of terrorism the intention was to divide us but we will not let this happen.
“We are a country of many faiths and freedom of worship and respect for those of different faiths is fundamental to this country’s values and these values will never be broken by vile extremism.”
May commended the “bravery and spirit of the community that apprehended the attacker”.
She added: “As we remember the victims of this attack, Makram Ali who tragically lost his life, we should take strength that it is London’s diversity and multitude of communities that makes it one of the world’s great cities.”
Speaking ahead of the memorial, Corbyn said: “The response of the community in Finsbury Park is a model for us all: through supporting each other in solidarity, treating each other with respect and learning from each other, we can create a better, more peaceful and prosperous world.”
At a gathering earlier in June, Ali’s daughter Ruzina Akhtar spoke of her family’s gratitude for the support they had received from the community since her father’s death.
Akhtar addressed those gathered at a street Iftar on what was the one-year anniversary of the incident according to the lunar calendar observed in the Islamic faith.
She said: “We’re very happy to be part of this community and to be in this country with such a loving, diverse community around us.
“And we would just like to thank everyone for their support and the love that they’ve shown and hope they continue to do so.”
The phrase #LondonUnited, which has been used in the wake of other terror attacks last year, was displayed on the Muslim Welfare House on Monday evening and into the early hours of Tuesday, around the time Osborne committed his crime.
Osborne, who had been radicalised by far-right material, is serving a jail sentence of at least 43 years after being found guilty in February of murder and attempted murder.