An imam who protected a man suspected of attacking Muslims outside Finsbury Park Mosque from angry members of the public has described how he stopped “kicks and punches” that were coming from “every angle”.
Mohammed Mahmoud was one of the first on the scene of the attack and intervened to save the suspect from a crowd that had formed.
Speaking next to the police cordon in north London on Monday afternoon, the imam said: “We found that a group of people quickly started to collect around the assailant and some tried to hit him with either kicks or punches.
“We managed to surround him and to protect him from any harm. We stopped all forms of attack and abuse towards him that were coming from every angle.
“We pushed people away from him until he was safely taken by police into custody.”
Mr Mahmoud said he had had been helped by other members of the local community who prevented the suspect from being hurt.
“It wasn’t me alone; there were a group of brothers … who were calm and collected and managed to calm people down and to extinguish any flames of anger or mob rule that would have taken charge had this group of mature brothers not stepped in.”
He also spoke about the “demonisation” of the Muslim community and warned that people with “ulterior motives wished to divide this great country and this great city”.
“It was touching our non-Muslim neighbours woke us up this morning to give us their support,” he said. “It is proof that the fabric of this society is not torn, but that we have to continue to keep the fabric of society, and this community of London, intact.”
Praising Mr Mahmoud's “bravery and courage”, Toufik Kacimi, the chief executive of the nearby Muslim Welfare House community centre, said the imam’s actions “prevented further injuries and potential loss of life”.
Mr Kacimi said the suspect had been shouting “I’ve done my bit” and “you deserve it” during the attack, which comes just over two weeks after three Islamist militants drove into pedestrians on London Bridge and stabbed people at nearby restaurants and bars, killing eight. Since then incidents of hate crime have risen, police say.
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