London Imam says 'mob-mentality is unislamic' after protecting suspect
The Imam of the Muslim Welfare House, who protected the suspect that rammed his van into Muslims returning home after late night prayers in north London, said his actions merely reflected the laws of Islam, which rejects mob mentality.
Sheikh Mohammed Mahmoud, a Briton of Egyptian descent, said he was made aware of the attack when a local ran into the mosque and shouted that a van had ran over a group of people, shortly after the late night Taraweeh prayers ended during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
“I ran out straight away and when I got there the driver was already on the floor being restrained by three men. Others were tending to the injured Bengali man, who has now been announced dead,” he told The New Arab.
Just minutes later, a large crowd began to gather and people started attacking the suspect, he noted. “I shouted ‘don’t touch him, we’ll hand him over to police’ and because people know I’m the Imam in the area, others joined in and helped me push people away from him.”
People immediately began calling the police to report the incident, but by sheer coincidence, the Imam said, a police van with officers drove by at that point. “I flagged them down and told them if we don’t put this man in the van now, this man will be killed.”
“We got him up, formed a semi-circle around him and pushed away people who were trying to inflict serious damage. Some even came with sticks but we pushed them away and eventually got him into the van”.
The account falls in line with dozens of videos that emerged online almost instantly after the arrest, and social media users, as well as mainstream media outlets, began praising the heroic imam for protecting a man who attacked Muslims going home from later night prayers.
But although the Imam’s actions were commended and applauded as somewhat unexpected, he insited they merely followed the teachings of Islam, which he said “rejects mob mentality.”
“We are not judge, jury or executioner and we have no authority to exercise any laws,” he added.
“So if we had done anything to him, it would’ve been both illegal by British law and prohibited Islamically. We handed him over to the authority which we respect and recognise as just and fair to allow the law to take its course.”
The Muslim community leader commended the "brilliant response" of the local police force who came "in all forms" to push back crowds and maintain a level of calm amid the chaos.
"They were very understanding with those that were angry," he said, referring to locals who witnessed the event unfold. "They showed real restraint".