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Outrage over 'victim-blaming' in media coverage of Finsbury Park attack

The attack left one man dead and 10 others injured [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 June, 2017

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Several media outlets have been criticised for 'blaming the victims' in their coverage of the Finsbury Park mosque attack.

People shocked by a Monday night attack on Muslim worshippers in north London have taken to social media to express outrage at the way it was covered by different media outlets.

The attack left one man dead and 10 others injured after a hire van crashed into a group of Muslims as they were leaving Taraweeh prayers at the Muslim Welfare House in Finsbury Park.

Some publications, such as the Daily Mail Online, linked the attack on the mosque with a radical cleric who used to preach there, drawing furious reactions to the "victim-blaming" approach.

Abu Hamza is an Egyptian-British cleric who served as an imam for the Finsbury Park Mosque from 1997 until he was removed from his position in 2003. He was a vocal supporter of Osama Bin Laden and advocated for the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate.

He was arrested in 2004 on terrorism charges for inciting violence and racial hatred. After being extradited to the United States, he was found guilty on 11 terrorism charges and is currently serving a life sentence without parole.

Since Abu Hamza's departure, the Finsbury Park Mosque has been active in cooperating with law enforcement in counterterrorism efforts. The mosque won a prestigious national award for its efforts in combatting religious extremism.

Tell Mama, an independent group monitoring anti-Muslim incidents in the UK, said that publications tying Hamza to the mosque in their reporting of the attack are an "utter disgrace".

Despite condemnations, the Daily Mail Online was not the only one to point out the mosque's history.

Former English Defence League [EDL] leader and known right-wing extremist, Tommy Robinson also linked Abu Hamza to the attack.

Metro UK, which has since edited its headline, originally described the Sunday incident as a "revenge" attack.

Other users drew parallels between the Finsbury Park attack and other attacks in London in the past three months involving vehicles ploughing into crowds of people, as well as the suicide bombing attack at a Manchester pop concert in May.

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