Cricklewood mosque attack: Muslim stewards 'stopped another London Bridge'

Cricklewood mosque attack: Muslim stewards 'stopped another London Bridge'
3 min read
19 September, 2018
Witnesses of a Islamophobic car-ramming attack in northwest London on Tuesday night spoke of the bravery of Muslim stewards whose actions might have saved dozens of lives.
Photos circulated on social media showed injured people being treated on the street [Twitter]
Muslim stewards have been praised for possibly "stopping the murder" of dozens of people, after they formed a cordon to protect worshippers at a London mosque from an Islamophobic car-ramming attack.  

At least three people were hurt when a car appeared to deliberately target Muslims leaving the al-Hussaini Majlis mosque in northwest London's Cricklewood area, after prayers late Tuesday night.

"Imagine London Bridge, it would have been worse," Emad al-Ebadi, a volunteer from the Hussaini Association - which runs the mosque - told The New Arab on Wednesday.

He said more than a thousand people were gathered on the street following an evening service to commemorate the death of the Prophet Muhammed's grandson, Hussein, a key religious event in the Shia Muslim calendar.

A team of 50 volunteers deployed to steward the event attacked the car as it mounted the pavement and drove towards the crowd, said Ebadi.

Ali Salman told The New Arab he was leaving the centre when he heard the sound of a car that was trapped among the crowd.

He took cover between two parked vehicles as "the car came full force at us and tried to run us over".

Salman said they managed to jump out of the way as the SUV turned towards a group of bystanders on the street.

"[They] went full force into the people," he said, adding that people were knocked over "like dominos".

"There was a lot of commotion, everyone was just dispersing," Salman said.

Lives were saved as bystanders were able to find cover between the many parked cars on the busy northwest London street.

"It could have been so much worse," he said.

"This is definitely, at the very least, someone who wanted to cause maximum damage, and run over as many people as possible."

According to the statement released by the Metropolitan Police, a car collided with a number of pedestrians just after midnight on September 19, after Islamophobic insults were directed at the crowd by the occupants of the vehicle.

They said the incident was not being treated as "terror related," but a possible hate crime was being investigated.

Three men and a woman in a red Nissan Juke SUV were asked to leave a nearby car park for anti-social behaviour, including drinking and taking drugs, the police said.

The occupants of the car then drove near the centre and had an altercation with the crowd, shouting Islamophobic abuse as volunteer stewards tried to stop the vehicle.

According to the statement released by the al-Hussaini Majlis, the car then veered into the bystanders, hitting at least five people.

Three men were taken to hospital for treatment, where one remains with a serious leg injury.

Miqdad Versi, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, tweeted on Wednesday in praise of Ali Mashkour who pulled a child out of car's path as it swerved towards the crowd.

A statement released by the association said: "We are in deep shock at such an attack taking place on our community but remain proud to live in a diverse and tolerant society and such we remain unintimidated and encourage all to continue to attend the Majlis (gathering) of Hussein - a man who defied a tyrant to deliver a message of unity, love and patience which we remember to this day."

DS Kelly Schonhage from Brent Criminal Investigations Department said: "We are treating this incident very seriously and a number of enquiries are underway to trace the car and those involved. Enquiries into the full circumstances of the collision are ongoing.

"Extra neighbourhood police patrols have been stepped up in the area and officers will be on hand to speak with those in the local community," her statement added.

Follow Florence Dixon on Twitter @flo_dix