The Muslim Council of Britain has called for extra security around mosques, describing the Finsbury Park van attack as “the most violent manifestation” of Islamophobia.
The council’s secretary general Harun Khan said he expected authorities to step up security “as a matter of urgency”, adding many would feel “terrorised” following the incident outside the Muslim Welfare House in Seven Sisters Road.
He said: “According to eyewitness accounts and videos taken after the incident, it appears that a white man in a van intentionally ploughed into a group of worshippers who were already tending to someone who had been taken ill.
“We do not know how many were injured or killed, but our prayers are with the victims and families.
“During the night, ordinary British citizens were set upon while they were going about their lives, completing their night worship. It appears from eyewitness accounts that the perpetrator was motivated by Islamophobia.
“Over the past weeks and months, Muslims have endured many incidents of Islamophobia and this is the most violent manifestation to date.
“Given we are approaching the end of the month of Ramadan and the celebration of Eid with many Muslims going to local mosques, we expect the authorities to increase security outside mosques as a matter of urgency.
“Muslim communities have been calling for increased action to tackle the growth in hate crime for many years and transformative action must now be taken to tackle not only this incident but the hugely worrying growth in Islamophobia.
Many will feel terrorised, no doubt be angry and saddened by what has taken place tonight.
“We urge calm as the investigation establishes the full facts, and in these last days of Ramadan, pray for those affected and for justice.”
Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation, a Muslim organisation which speaks out against extremism, said: “I utterly condemn the senseless and evil van attack against Muslim worshippers outside the Finsbury Park Mosque in London.
“According to eyewitnesses this was a deliberate attack against innocent Muslims going about their life.
“We should make clear that if this attack is confirmed as a deliberate terrorist attack then this should be classed as an act of terrorism. The British Muslim community requires all decent people to stand with us against this evil violence.
“Rampant Islamaphobia has been on the rise for a number of years and those on the far right have perpetuated hatred against Muslims. They should be called out for their hatred.
“The days ahead will be difficult, but with unity and tolerance we will prevail. We will not allow these far right extremists to divide our diverse communities. Enough is enough, my condolences and prayers for all the victims and their families. They are in my prayers.”
Labour leader and local Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn expressed his shock at what had happened, writing on Twitter: “I’m totally shocked at the incident at Finsbury Park tonight.
“I’ve been in touch with the mosques, police and Islington council regarding the incident. My thoughts are with those and the community affected by this awful event.”
Meanwhile, chairman of the mosque at Finsbury Park, Mohammed Kozbar, tweeted: “Our thoughts and prayers with those who got injured and effected by this cowardly attack in Finsbury Park area, many casualties in the floor.”
The widower of murdered MP Jo Cox spoke out on Twitter as news of the attack broke, saying that the far right and Islamist terrorists shared an ideology and both must be defeated.
Brendan Cox tweeted: “Far right facists&Islamist terrorists are driven by same hatred of difference, same ideology of supremacy&use same tactics.We’ll defeat both.
“When islamist terrorists attack we rightly seek out hate preachers who spur them on. We must do the same to those who peddle Islamophobia”.
Mother-of-two Mrs Cox, who represented the Batley and Spen conctituency in West Yorkshire, was shot and stabbed as she arrived for a constituency surgery in Birstall on June 16 last year.
Right-wing loner Thomas Mair was given a whole life term at the Old Bailey in November after being convicted of her murder.
The attack happened after a weekend of events as part of The Great Get Together, which saw communities across the country get together to mark the anniversary of the Labour MP’s murder with positivity.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged people to “remain calm and vigilant”.
He said: “We don’t yet know the full details, but this was clearly a deliberate attack on innocent Londoners, many of whom were finishing prayers during the holy month of Ramadan.
“While this appears to be an attack on a particular community, like the terrible attacks in Manchester, Westminster and London Bridge it is also an assault on all our shared values of tolerance, freedom and respect.
“The situation is still unfolding and I urge all Londoners to remain calm and vigilant. Please report anything suspicious to the police, but only call 999 in an emergency.
“The Met have deployed extra police to reassure communities, especially those observing Ramadan.”