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Finsbury Park terror attack: Charity boss says Muslim community feared a ‘vengeance attack’ was imminent

PUBLISHED: 15:53 19 June 2017 | UPDATED: 16:36 19 June 2017

A police officer talks to neighbours at the scene of the terror attack this morning. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

A police officer talks to neighbours at the scene of the terror attack this morning. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

PA Wire/PA Images

A charity boss who was at the Muslim Welfare House during this morning’s terrorist attack has revealed there were fears within his community of “vengeance” attacks following the killings in London and Manchester.

A police forensic investigator at the scene of the attack. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire A police forensic investigator at the scene of the attack. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

At least 10 people were injured when a white van hit crowds outside the Muslim Welfare House in Seven Sisters Road at about 12.20am. One man was already in cardiac arrest and receiving first aid to try and save his life when the attack happened. Police do not know whether the van crash had any part to play in his death.

An eyewitness described a suspect as shouting: “I want to kill Muslims,” and police have called it a terrorist attack.

Mohamed Nacer, founder of the Arab Advice Bureau charity in Seven Sisters Road, was in the Muslim Welfare House when the attack happened.

He told the Gazette: “It was horrific. I was in the mosque and heard a big scream. We had just finished the taraweh, the night prayers, and people started leaving.

An armed police officer mans a cordon on the Seven Sisters Road after the attack that injured at least 10 people this morning. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire An armed police officer mans a cordon on the Seven Sisters Road after the attack that injured at least 10 people this morning. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

“People go to the Somalian coffee shop next door before fasting starts again at 2.40am and they were standing on the pavement. Then people were screaming saying: ‘Someone has run over people on the pavement with a van.’”

Mohamed said his community had been worried about a possible attack.

He continued: “The first thing we thought, everybody was talking about it, was that it was vengeance for the attacks in London and Manchester. We know that’s what this is.

“Everybody was worried about it. We knew with these recent incidents that something might happen.

Armed police officers man a cordon at the scene of the collision. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire Armed police officers man a cordon at the scene of the collision. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

“We feared because there was an increase in hate crime, especially in Finsbury Park around the mosque. Finsbury Park is a Muslim stronghold where people wear Muslim dress, it’s a very attractive area for hate crimes.

“I can tell you within my community, and from my office, we have seen an increase in hate crime.”

The attack happened 36 hours after the welfare house hosted a Great Get Together community event in memory of murdered MP Jo Cox.

Mohamed was at that event and said vigilance was discussed by police and council leaders.

“On Saturday we were talking about hate crime at the community event,” he said. “Local councillors and police were there. It was mainly discussing prevention and dealing with hate crime – how to report it. There’s a lack of reporting within the Muslim community.

“We were also talking about the small majority giving Islam a bad name. That’s what caused this vengeance, people don’t understand Islam. They act with assumptions.”

Most of the victims, according to Mohamed, were from the Somali community who live nearby.

“I recognised some of their faces,” he added. “The old man who passed away was well known in the mosque.”

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