London Imam who protected anti-Muslim attacker warns against stereotyping

Manchester attacker not representative of Muslims, neither is mosque suspect, London Imam warns
3 min read
19 June, 2017
Imam Mohammed Mahmoud has urged the city’s Muslim community to show restraint and to avoid stereotypes and generalisations following Monday's anti-Muslim terror attack in Finsbury Park.
Imam Mohammed Mahmoud was praised for his bravery and courage [AFP]
The local Imam, hailed for bravery after protecting the perpetrator of Monday's anti-Muslim terror attack in north London, has urged the city's Muslim community to show restraint and to avoid stereotypes and generalisations.

Imam Mohammed Mahmoud was in the Muslim Welfare House when a van ploughed into worshippers outside. He was praised for his bravery and courage after he rushed out to ensure the pinned-down perpetrator was shielded from attack until the police arrived.

Speaking this afternoon to London's Muslim community through The New Arab, the Imam called for Muslims neither to be scared nor fall prey to stereotyping.

"Don't be afraid and don't generalise or stereotype, and know that just as [London Bridge and Manchester] attackers do not represent Islam, this man too does not represent all White people – although we still do not know where he was from," Mahmoud said.

"We have nothing to fear from Caucasians and non-Muslims. We have lived here safely for generations and will continue to do so in future." 

Imam Mahmoud added that the UK capital has long become home for many Muslims and that the city, along with many others in the UK, is marked by exceptional tolerance. 

"Most people here are second and third generation Muslims in the UK and all of them call this place home. When they go on holiday in any season, they long to return home, and home is London," he told The New Arab.

"London, Luton, Manchester, all of these cities are our home cities which we love. We are grateful for the brilliant health service, education and tolerance and respect shown towards us by the general populace – despite some fringe groups trying to capitalise on certain incidents, but we won't allow that to happen.

"We love this country and want it to prosper because its prosperity is also out prosperity." 

Mahmoud further praised the response of the Metropolitan police, saying that they were "brilliant" and were very "understanding and restrained in dealing with the angry crowd".

The Muslim Welfare House, where Mahmoud is imam, has been active in promoting ideas of peace and tolerance across communities in the Finsbury Park area. The centre opens its doors regularly to non-Muslim visitors who wish to learn and connect with their Muslim neighbours.

"We participate in 'Visit my Mosque' day annually, and invite people from the area to come into the mosque and hear about Islam, look at Islamic artefacts and experience various Muslim cultures," Mahmoud told The New Arab.

On Saturday, the centre took part in the Great Get together event, which brought communities together in mourning of slain MP Jo Cox.

"We participated in the event under the slogan 'we have more in common than differences'," Mahmoud said, stressing that Monday's event will not deter Muslim Welfare House from its usual activities.

"Today, we are still going ahead with our planned community iftars and invite members of the council, the police force and government to come along."