London community shows solidarity after van attack on Muslims as police question suspect

People shout slogans during a vigil near to where a van was driven at Muslims in Finsbury Park, North London.
People shout slogans during a vigil near to where a van was driven at Muslims in Finsbury Park, North London.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS, AFP) - Around 200 people of all faiths gathered in front of London's Finsbury Park Mosque on Tuesday (June 20) to show solidarity after a van ploughed into worshippers in a suspected attack on a Muslim prayer-gathering during Ramadam.

Representatives of local religious communities stood side by side during a minute's silence in front of the mosque where the incident took place on Monday night, injuring 11 people, two of them seriously.

The driver, who was seized by worshippers immediately after the attack, has been held by police for preparing or instigating terrorism.

Locals sang together and laid flowers at the mosque, holding up placards which said "Don't let the racists divide us" and "No to Islamophobia, No to War".

Faith leaders from different communities took part in a minute's silence and released a joint statement through police:"We are committed to supporting one another and (...) are determined not to allow this horrible act to divide us."

They praised Imam Mohammed Mahmoud as an model after he defended the suspect when he was set upon by a group of angry locals following the attack.

Speaking to Sky News, Mahmoud said: "My faith is an integral part of me and it dictates everything about my decision-making, but at the same time as a human I can't allow another human to be harmed unnecessarily."

Police on Tuesday questioned the suspect, Darren Osborne, a 47-year-old father of four from Cardiff in Wales.

The incident is being treated as a terror attack, although police believe the suspect acted alone.

Police have been granted permission to hold him for questioning until Saturday.

One man who was already receiving first aid at the time died following Monday's attack. Seven people remain in hospital and three were moved out of critical care on Tuesday.

The attack has raised fears of retaliation against Muslims after three deadly strikes by Islamist extremists in London and the northern city of Manchester.

Osborne's family has said that he was a "troubled" man but was "not a racist".

Reports said he had gone drinking at his local pub on Saturday night, before being thrown out for a threatening rant about Muslims.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Tuesday the spate of attacks had "bruised but not broken the heart of this great nation".