On Friday 27th November, an attempted arson attack took place at Finsbury Park Mosque in Islington. Our community stands united in condemning this horrific attack and we urge anyone with information about it to contact the police.
Cllr Andy Hull, Islington Labour councillor for Highbury West ward, has written today in the Islington Tribune about the attack. Cllr Hull’s article is reproduced below.
A time for hope, not hate – by Cllr Andy Hull
Last Friday night, after evening prayers, a white man with his hood up tried to burn down Finsbury Park Mosque using a jerry-can full of petrol that he tried to set alight. Were it not for the rain that evening, a bigoted coward’s attempt at arson may have led to tragedy. As it was, thankfully, nobody was hurt. But the psychological damage is real. Families shouldn’t have to fear for their loved ones as they pray.
The police are rightly taking this heinous hate-crime seriously. I sincerely hope they catch the criminal behind it and that he faces the full force of the law.
Sadly though, it is not the only Islamophobic attack that brothers and sisters at the mosque have been subjected to since the terrorist atrocities perpetrated in the name of so-called Islamic State in Paris last month. There is regularly now hate mail in the mosque’s postbag. Muslim women wearing hijabs, in particular, are frequently the victims of verbal and even physical abuse on the streets outside.
In today’s modern world, the global and the local are intertwined. But the congregants of Finsbury Park Mosque had nothing to do with what happened in France. In fact, they led British Muslims’ unreserved condemnation of that massacre, jointly taking out a full-page advertisement in The Daily Telegraph to do so.
In the bad old days of Abu Hamza, Finsbury Park Mosque was a security risk and posed a real challenge to community cohesion. But it is now over 10 years since its chairman, Mohammed Kozbar, led the community, with the help of Jeremy Corbyn MP and the Metropolitan Police, to turf out its extremist imam. He is now languishing in an American jail and the mosque is a totally different place.
I have prayed there with my wife. My mum remembers fondly the homemade biscuits at one of its open days. I have taken two groups of students from London Metropolitan University there in the past fortnight and they have all come away impressed. The mosque runs a multi-faith project to feed and support homeless people of all religions and of none. Last year, it won a national award endorsed by the Charity Commission for its good governance. The women at the mosque, led by Sister Naima, have a wonderful relationship with the women from St Thomas’s Church just down the road, taking each other on regular daytrips. Yet, despite all this, the mosque’s management have in recent years received death threats, fake anthrax has been posted through the door and a pig’s head has been left on the railings.
Given all the turmoil right now in the wider world around us, Islington’s communities need to come together, united in solidarity. The thug who tried to torch the mosque last week is part of a tiny minority who seek to sow division and discord among us. We must not let them. There is no place for such hatred in our world, never mind our ward.
Cllr Andy Hull – Islington Labour councillor for Highbury West ward