Last Tuesday, people here in north London observed a one-minute silence to mark the first anniversary of the terror attack at the Finsbury Park mosque. The community around the mosque remembered the life of Makram Ali – the 51-year-old, father-of-six who was murdered by Darren Osborne, when he deliberately ploughed a van into a congregation of worshippers.
We cannot deny that the attack left some people feeling apprehensive and scared, but the work done in communities across the city since has left us feeling defiant of those who seek to incite hatred. We want anyone who is still worried to know they can and should reach out to organisations like FAST, or to the police, for support to help overcome that fear.
Last Monday evening, a message – reading #LondonUnited – was projected onto the wall of the Muslim Welfare House. It is planned to remain in place to mark a year since the attack. We couldn’t think of a more fitting sentiment.
Despite the fact that this violent act was designed to divide our community, it actually served to strengthen bonds and to bring parts of our society together. Messages of support flooded into the mosque, via post, word of mouth and social media, and the imam – who protected and forgave the attacker – was, by all accounts, hailed a hero and a credit to the true nature of the Islamic faith.
The Muslim Welfare House hosted a street party, which celebrated the public’s sterling reaction to the incident. Women, men and children of all different backgrounds, faiths and ethnicities converged to pay tributes to Makram Ali, think about his loved ones and to think about the nine other people who were injured.
One thing that we can take away from all this? Discrimination or violence based on someone’s faith or race is not tolerated in our society. And it never, ever will be. We owe it to ourselves and our communities to reject any form of hatred and, on this occasion, society proved it.
Have your children been affected by hate crime or discrimination? You can speak to us or the NSPCC.
Get in touch with the police or Tell MAMA to (anonymously) report a hate crime.