Finsbury Park A mixed and tolerant community that has been left appalled

first_imgVigil for Finsbury Park attack Rabbi Herschel Gluck said the incident hurt and was an attack on “every single Muslim in the UK and beyond”.”But really an attack on the Muslim community is an attack on every single citizen in Great Britain, because we are one nation, under one god, living together, working together, co-operating together in his country,” he added.  The mosqueearned notoriety through its links to Abu Hamza. But that was more than a decade ago and since then it has worked hard to repair its reputation, holding open days and maintaining links with the local church.There was a moment of tension when Theresa May arrived at the mosque amid a heavy police presence. But it was soon over. Hassine came here as a young man and and said the first time he experienced racism was last week: “It was a woman in a car. She told me, ‘Go back where you came from’ and threw a can of Coke at my car. That kind of thing never happened before now.”On Monday night locals were joined by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick at a vigil outside the mosque. She stood with the chairman of the mosque, Mohammed Kozbar, to observe a short silence, before he addressed the large crowd, praising the “great response” from the community. “Yesterday we all experienced a horrific attack on our families, on our freedom, on our dignity. A man, a father of six children, being killed in cold blood and many injured by an extremist, by a terrorist,” Mr Kozbar said.”These people, these extremists, their aim is to divide our communities, is to spread hatred, fear and division among our communities,” he added.”We all have harmony in this area, and these people try to divide us, but we tell them that we will not let you do that.” A lady called Tracey wheeled a plastic trolley up to the police cordon and pulled out a crate of bottled water, gratefully received by officers standing in the baking heat.“I’m quite horrified by this. Where I live, I’ve got Muslim neighbours on this side, Orthodox Jewish people on the other. We all get on,” she said.She went to Poundland and bought the water after watching the news and seeing someone shout at a policeman. “They don’t deserve it, do they? I’m only sorry it ain’t cold.”Outside the Al Baraka Supermarket, a group of Algerian men were discussing the attack. All had worshipped at the Muslim Welfare House and knew some of the victims.“It’s a good community. Muslims, Christian, Jewish, atheist – we all have different opinions and nobody has a grudge with anybody,” said a man called Kader. Finsbury Park is proud to be tolerantCredit:Dan Kitwood /Getty By the police cordon on Seven Sisters Road, a woman stood with a homemade placard. Alison, pictured, a resident, had heard about the attack early in the morning and hastily made the sign before heading to the scene.“Leave Our Muslim Neighbours Alone,” it said on the front. On the back: “This is not a war. It’s just a few deranged individuals acting out their demented macho fantasies. They are not with us. We love our mixed community.”It’s a message that sums up the community spirit in Finsbury Park. The streets may be shabbier than those a mile away in Islington, but people are proud to live in an area known for its tolerance. All morning, people came to leave flowers outside Finsbury Park Mosque – a focal point for the Muslim community here. People hold flowers as they attend a vigil outside Finsbury Park Mosque Signs saying ‘Love will win, Terror will lose’ were held up at the vigilCredit:Dan Kitwood/Getty  The chairman of the mosque praised the way in which the community had respondedCredit:Dan Kitwood /Getty Other faith leaders from the community also spoke at the vigil, including the Bishop of Stepney the Rt Rev Adrian Newman, who told the crowd “an attack on one faith is an attack on us all”. People hold flowers as they attend a vigil outside Finsbury Park Mosque Credit:Dan Kitwood/Getty  When people say the multicultural “experiment” has failed, they have clearly not walked down Blackstock Road, where Turkish barbers and 
Algerian grocers sit alongside Sardinian trattorias and hipster pizza joints.The middle classes here are staunchly Labour – save for a respectable number who vote Green – and the attack has left them appalled.“I’ve lived here for about 37 years and it has always been lovely because it’s so mixed,” Alison said. “Muslims are our neighbours and I want them to know they’re not alone.” Finsbury Park vigil Vigil for Finsbury Park Local people were visibly emotional in the aftermath of the attackCredit:Dan Kitwood /Getty His friend, Hassine, is known to his white British neighbours as Harry. “There’s Margaret who lives next door, her son moved to Margate and wanted her to move too but she said, ‘How can I leave Harry’s family? They’re so good to me.’ I check on her every day, she’s an old lady. We make food for the neighbours – couscous, all of that. They love it.” Signs saying 'Love will win, Terror will lose' were held up at the vigil Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

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