Three men who say they helped to restrain the suspect in the attack near a north London mosque have praised an imam who urged the crowd not to do him any harm.
After a van ploughed into a group of people in Finsbury Park, members of the public wrestled the suspect to the ground. Then an imam from the Muslim Welfare House urged the crowd to remain calm.
“The imam came from the mosque and he said, ‘Listen we are fasting, this is Ramadan, we are not supposed to do these kinds of things so please step back,’” said Mohammed, one of three men who were sitting outside a nearby coffee shop on Monday morning and said that they had played a part in holding the man down.
“For that reason this guy is still alive today,” the cafe owner, 29, went on. “This is the only reason. If the imam was not there he wouldn’t be here today.”
The imam was named by the Muslim Welfare House as Mohammed Mahmoud. In a statement Toufik Kacimi, the mosque and welfare centre’s chief executive, praised Mahmoud’s bravery which he said “helped calm the immediate situation after the incident and prevented further injuries and potential loss of life”.
Footage on mobile phones at the scene when the man was being held on the ground captures the voice of a man shouting: “No one touch him – no-one! No-one!”
Other witnesses corroborated the cafe owner Mohammed’s account of the incident. Adil Rana, 24, who was outside the mosque when the van drove towards the crowd, said that initially, some people had attacked the suspect. “The driver jumped out and then he was pinned down to the floor and people were punching him and beating him, which was reasonable because of what he’s done,” he said. “And then the imam of the mosque actually came out and said: ‘Don’t hit him, hand him over to the police, pin him down.’”
Hussain Ali, 28, said: “The leader of the mosque said: ‘You do not touch him’. He was sitting and holding him like that, people kept holding him.” Read more at The Guardian.