The husband of murdered MP Jo Cox has called for far-right extremists who peddle Islamophobia to be treated in the same way as hate preachers.
One man has been killed and eight injured after a white van ploughed into worshippers in Finsbury Park in what police have said is a terror attack.
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 floor outside the Muslim Welfare House on Seven Sisters Road.
The attack has led to fears that Muslims could be the victim of more reprisals, with the Muslim Council of Britain calling for extra security around mosques.
And it follows warnings of an unprecedented anti-Muslim backlash after recent terrorist atrocities.
Police in London recorded a spike in the number of Islamophobic incidents in the wake of the London Bridge outrage earlier this month, with 20 recorded on June 6 – compared with a daily average of 3.5.
Tweeting after the attack, Brendan Cox said: “Far right facists&Islamist terrorists are driven by same hatred of difference, same ideology of supremacy&use same tactics.We’ll defeat both.
“When islamist terrorists attack we rightly seek out hate preachers who spur them on. We must do the same to those who peddle Islamophobia”.
Far right facists&Islamist terrorists are driven by same hatred of difference, same ideology of supremacy&use same tactics.We’ll defeat both
— Brendan Cox (@MrBrendanCox) June 19, 2017
When islamist terrorists attack we rightly seek out hate preachers who spur them on. We must do the same to those who peddle Islamophobia
— Brendan Cox (@MrBrendanCox) June 19, 2017
Mother-of-two Mrs Cox, who represented the Batley and Spen constituency in West Yorkshire, was shot and stabbed as she arrived for a constituency surgery in Birstall on June 16 last year.
Thomas Mair was given a whole life term at the Old Bailey in November after being convicted of her murder.
Dr Alan Mendoza, executive director of the Henry Jackson Society think tank, said: “Coming a year after the murder of Jo Cox, we have witnessed what appears to be another hateful act in the community.
“It is looking increasingly likely that this is the latest example of a growing threat of far-right extremism in the UK.
Read more: Thousands flock to pay tribute to Jo Cox
“The Government must ensure urgently the security services have all the resources they need to investigate and prevent extremism-inspired attacks of whatever origin.”
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 terror attack.
He said: “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.
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.
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) 19 June 2017
“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