London – Dr. Omer El-Hamdoon, head of the Muslim Association of Britain, speculated that the ramming of worshipers outside a London mosque on Sunday night may have a been a hate crime directed against Muslims.
He told Asharq Al-Awsat that the attack was aimed at “spreading fear and terror among the people,” but hailed the imam of the mosque for stopping the angry worshipers from retaliating against the attacker.
The imam, Mohammed Mahmoud, urged the worshipers to exercise restraint after it appeared as if they were going to attack the assailant.
The suspect was yanked from the cab of his van by a furious crowd as he sought to reverse and escape after injuring 10 people in what police said was a deliberate attack on Muslims that was being treated as terrorism.
“We found that a group of people quickly started to collect around him, around the assailant and some tried to hit him either with kicks or punches. By God’s grace we managed to surround him and to protect him from any harm,” Mahmoud said.
“We managed to extinguish any flames of anger or mob rule that might have taken charge,” he told reporters, adding he was acting with “a group of mature brothers”.
The suspect had been shouting earlier “I’ve done my bit”, aid Toufik Kacimi, the chief executive of the nearby Muslim Welfare House community center, who praised the imam’s courage.
“(The imam’s) bravery and courage helped calm the immediate situation after the incident and prevented further injuries and potential loss of life,” he said.
Mahmoud called on the incensed worshipers not to commit a sin during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
“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, a 29-year-old cafe owner who was one of three men who held the suspect down, The Guardian newspaper reported.
“For that reason this guy is still alive today,” he added.