Theresa May has pledged to review security around mosques in the wake of the Finsbury Park terror attack.
Her promise follows calls by Muslim leaders for extra security around mosques, describing the van attack as “the most violent manifestation” of Islamophobia.
One man has been killed and eight injured after a white van ploughed into worshippers outside the Muslim Welfare House on Seven Sisters Road
According to an eyewitness, the suspect – a 48-year-old who was detained by onlookers before being arrested by police – screamed “I’m going to kill all Muslims” before he was tackled to the ground.
The Muslim Council of Britain’s secretary general, Harun Khan, said he expected authorities to step up security “as a matter of urgency”, adding many would feel “terrorised” following the incident.
He said: “During the night, ordinary British citizens were set upon while they were going about their lives, completing their night worship. It appears from eyewitness accounts that the perpetrator was motivated by Islamophobia.
“Over the past weeks and months, Muslims have endured many incidents of Islamophobia and this is the most violent manifestation to date.
“Given we are approaching the end of the month of Ramadan and the celebration of Eid with many Muslims going to local mosques, we expect the authorities to increase security outside mosques as a matter of urgency.
“Muslim communities have been calling for increased action to tackle the growth in hate crime for many years and transformative action must now be taken to tackle not only this incident but the hugely worrying growth in Islamophobia.
Speaking outside Downing Street, the Prime Minister said: “Extra police resources have already been deployed to reassure communities, and the police will continue to assess the security needs of mosques, and provide any additional resources needed, especially during this final week before Eid al-Fitr, a particularly important time for the whole Muslim community.”
Mrs May said that the attack on Muslims was “every bit as insidious and destructive to our values and our way of life” as the recent string of terror attacks apparently motivated by Islamist extremism, adding: “We will stop at nothing to defeat it.”
Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation, a Muslim organisation which speaks out against extremism, said: “I utterly condemn the senseless and evil van attack against Muslim worshippers outside the Finsbury Park Mosque in London.”
Labour leader and local Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn expressed his shock at what had happened, writing on Twitter: “I’m totally shocked at the incident at Finsbury Park tonight.
“I’ve been in touch with the mosques, police and Islington council regarding the incident. My thoughts are with those and the community affected by this awful event.”
I am shocked by this horrific and cruel attack in Finsbury Park, which is being treated as an act of terror. pic.twitter.com/fipwZJ1eBZ
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) June 19, 2017
London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged people to “remain calm and vigilant”.
He said: “We don’t yet know the full details, but this was clearly a deliberate attack on innocent Londoners, many of whom were finishing prayers during the holy month of Ramadan.
“While this appears to be an attack on a particular community, like the terrible attacks in Manchester, Westminster and London Bridge it is also an assault on all our shared values of tolerance, freedom and respect.
“The situation is still unfolding and I urge all Londoners to remain calm and vigilant. Please report anything suspicious to the police, but only call 999 in an emergency.
“The Met have deployed extra police to reassure communities, especially those observing Ramadan.”
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “My thoughts are with all those affected by the appalling incident at Finsbury Park.
“I am in contact with the Metropolitan Police who have confirmed it is being investigated by their Counter Terrorism Command.
“We must all continue to stand together, resolute, against all those who try to divide us and spread hate and fear.”
Labour’s shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, whose Hackney North and Stoke Newington constituency lies close to the scene, called for police to review security at mosques.
She tweeted: “Terror attack outside #FinsburyPark mosque. Police must urgently review security for all mosques #StandTogether.”
Shocking terror attack outside Finsbury Park mosque. Thoughts & prayers with friends & families of the victims #FinsburyPark
— Diane Abbott (@HackneyAbbott) June 19, 2017
The chief constable of Greater Manchester Police has tweeted his sympathy for the community caught up in the Finsbury Park attack.
Ian Hopkins wrote: “#finsburyattack such awful news. The victims & their families are very much in my thoughts and prayers.”
It was less than a month ago that terrorist Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb killing 22 people, including children, after an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena.
In a statement posted on its website, the Finsbury Park Mosque said it “condemns in the strongest terms a heinous terrorist attack”.
“The van driver deliberately mowed down Muslim men and women leaving late evening prayers from Finsbury Park Mosque and Muslim Welfare House just after midnight,” the statement said.
“This is a callous terrorist attack, which coincides with the murdered MP, Jo Cox, anniversary.”