On Tuesday morning, hundreds of people will observe a minute’s silence to mark a years since a far right terrorist drove a van into Muslim worshippers returning from Ramadan prayers in North London.
Darren Osborne killed Makram Ali, a father of four, and injured nine others in Finsbury Park that night. It was one of four murderous terrorist atrocities in Britain in 2017.
Among those who will attend the minute’s silence on the steps of the borough’s town hall this week will be Yassin Hersi, the last person to speak to Mr Ali alive.
The 46-year-old father of four insisted Osborne, from Cardiff, and the other terrorists who have targeted London will never defeat the “peace loving” people of Britain.
“The minority can never overrule the majority,” he said from his home in East London. “I think now this community has pulled together and is getting stronger and stronger day by day. It is the terrorists who are the real losers in all of this.”
Mr Hersi, who is trained in first aid, had been tending to Mr Ali, 51, after he collapsed in the street following prayers at the Muslim Welfare House. As he comforted and treated the ill man, Osborne drove his van at the group causing multiple injuries to Mr Ali and hurling Mr Hersi into the air.
The vehicle was coming at such speed Mr Hersi only heard the revving of its engine and so had no time to get out of the way.
In the mayhem that followed Osborne ran from the van shouting that he wanted to “kill all Muslims”, before the crowd restrained him until police arrived.
Mr Hersi, originally from Somaliland, at first felt no pain, but when he tried to get up he collapsed realising he was badly injured and his ankle smashed.
Mr Hersi, whose wife Rakhia Ismail is a local councillor, believes Osborne had been brainwashed by the simplistic rhetoric of far right extremists.
He insisted he was simply “lucky” on June 19 last year, despite needing a spell in hospital and requiring crutches for many weeks. One year on he still walks with a limp, but is adamant that his thoughts remain with Mr Ali and his family.
“I still get flashbacks and suffered some kind of trauma disorder,” Mr Hersi continued. “There are a lot of things still in my memory. I’m not fully recovered, but I’m getting better. I still receive some treatment: I see a psychologist and a physiotherapist.”
Asked if he had a message for Osborne, who was jailed earlier this year for life, he said: “I try to avoid thinking about him. But if I do I think what a horrible person he is, just like any other terrorist.
“However, if I have a message for him it would be that he should enjoy the rest of his time in jail. He is in the right place and has got what he deserved.”