Featured image credit: @katsladden.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: London is a great city. It’s a place where different cultures come together to create communities matched by few other capitals.
While the city – and the country – has experienced tragedy these past few months, people have always responded with a show of unity and strength. Things were no different earlier this week. On Tuesday, people of all faiths and none gathered in front of Finsbury Park mosque in a show of solidarity, after Muslim worshippers were attacked outside of the building on Sunday night as they left after taraweeh prayers. A terrorist had deliberately driven a van into the group, before being seized by bystanders.
At Tuesday’s vigil, locals observed a minute’s silence for those affected. Many held signs with slogans like ‘don’t let the racists divide us’. Faith leaders from different communities also released a statement in response to the tragedy: ‘We are committed to supporting one another and…are determined not to allow this horrible act to divide us.’
They went on to praise Mohammed Mahmoud, the Imam who protected the perpetrator from harm until the police arrived to arrest him. It was an incredible show of peace and humanity given the situation. As Mahmoud told Sky News: ‘My faith is an integral part of me and it dictates everything about my decision-making, but at the same time as a human I can’t allow another human to be harmed unnecessarily.’
Tuesday’s event followed another show of solidarity on Monday, when the local community lined the streets to give roses to Muslims as they entered the mosque for prayers. The flowers were many different colours, to represent all the qualities of a multicultural London.
As the roses were handed out, one woman told the BBC about the night of the attack. She stayed in the mosque in case other assailants appeared, on the advice of the Imam. But she later walked home alone, unwilling to be scared: ‘I walked home at 2:10am on my own. I was advised not to, but I wasn’t afraid. Why should I be? The attacker has no community, he’s a lone crazy man, whereas I have one.’
The roses mirror the recent event on London Bridge, when Muslims handed out thousands of the flowers to passersby. Like Monday night, it was a show of strength; a symbol of London rejecting hate, now and in the future.