Jewish leaders condemn mosque attack

Tributes lain after the attack on pedestrians leaving the Finsbury Park Mosque.

JEWISH community groups have condemned an attack on Muslim worshippers near a mosque by a man in a white van, being treated as terrorism by police.

One man died after the driver targeted people near the Finsbury Park Mosque in north London early on Monday.

Witnesses described hearing the man, who was detained by members of the public at the scene, shout: “I’m going to kill Muslims.”

The attacker struck as the area was busy with worshippers attending Ramadan night prayers at the mosque.

Board of Deputies of British Jews president Jonathan Arkush condemned the attack, which appears to be a terrorist incident. 

He said: “Our heartfelt sympathy, thoughts and prayers are with the victims. This weekend, the Jewish community joined Muslims and others up and down the country for the Great Get Together in memory of Jo Cox. All good people must stand together and join in rejecting hatred and violence from wherever it comes. The way forward is to strengthen the moderate majority and repudiate and marginalise extremism of every type. Hatred of people because of their religion has no place in our society.”

Following the attack, Simon Johnson of the Jewish Leadership Council said: “We utterly condemn this vile terrorist attack at the Finsbury Park Mosque last night. To target those at worship or observing their faith is a betrayal of our British values of tolerance, respect and kindness, on which our society is built. Our hearts go out to the victims.”

Mark Regev, Israeli ambassador to the UK tweeted: “#FinsburyPark was a vile terror attack targeted against worshippers during Ramadan, a month of peace. Israel stands in solidarity w/London.”

A spokesperson for the Zionist Federation condemned the “ugly attack”, adding that “terrorism is terrorism whether it comes from the far-right, Islamists or any other form of extremism”, urging everyone to “stand together in the fight against hatred”.

Rabbi Herschel Gluck, president of Shomrim, a Jewish neighbourhood watch group, was at the police cordon to show “solidarity” with the community. He told the Press Association: “We have very good community relations here. “(My reaction was) deep shock and deep concern about the ramifications of this terrorist atrocity.

“On one hand, I feel the people deeply appreciate our presence here and feel reassured that we are here with them, but on the other hand a lot of anger and frustration that members of their community have been attacked.”

Senior rabbi of the Reform Movement, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner condemned the attack and offered “prayers of condolence and strength to those affected”. 

She added, “This is not true Britain; this is abhorrent. We must stand together against Islamophobia and all forms of incitement, fighting hatred and extremism wherever it occurs. 

“Today we stand with our Muslim friends in solidarity and unity.”