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Attack at Finsbury Park mosque is ‘heartbreaking’, says Chief Rabbi

Rabbi Mirvis: 'may each of us resolve to respond to this latest tragedy with the same compassion and determination not to be divided'

    Police cordon off a street in Finsbury park (Getty Images)

    Jewish leaders have condemned the terror attack at Finsbury Park mosque which left one man dead and 10 others injured.

    The attack happened on Sunday evening when a man drove a van into a crowd of worshippers leaving the mosque in north London.

    The driver of the van, who tried to escape the scene, was subdued; he was allegedly shouting that he wanted to “kill all Muslims”.

    In a statement published on social media, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said: “It is heartbreaking to hear of yet another deadly attack on the streets of London, this time targeting Muslims who had been at prayer.

    “This is a painful illustration of why we must never allow hatred to breed hatred. It creates a downward spiral of violence and terror with only further death and greater destruction.

    “As ever our thoughts and prayers are with those affected and may each of us resolve to respond to this latest tragedy with the same compassion and determination not to be divided, which has defined our society over recent months”.

    Just hours earlier, the Chief Rabbi had hosted an interfaith Iftar – the evening meal breaking the Ramadan fast – at his home in north-west London, with people of all faiths coming together in what Rabbi Mirvis described as an “extraordinary atmosphere of warmth & friendship”.

    Representatives of the local Stamford Hill strictly orthodox community expressed solidarity with their neighbours, with the Jewish Community Council of North London saying that they had "already been in contact with leaders from the local Muslim community, to whom we have offered our support and solidarity.

    "Last night terror came to our doorstep", Levi Schapiro and Rabbi David Halberstam, the founders of the JCC, said in a statement.

    "Although this is a dark time for many, we as a community must find some light through unity and allow this light to overpower the darkness.

    "Those terrorists want us to live in fear and darkness, and our message today is loud and clear - we will live in unity with our friends and neighbours from the Muslim and other faith communities".

    The JCC confirmed that Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, had contacted them to offer his full support to the local community, and to reassure them that safety and security would be stepped up in the wake of the attack.

    The Community Security Trust sent its "condolences to the victims & to Muslim communities UK wide" It also issued a security bulletin to the Jewish community

    The CST has previously provided advice to Tell Mama, the Islamophobia monitoring charity, on security issues. A CST spokesman told the JC that he thought Mr Javid's reference to increased security would likely include "increased vicibility of [police] patrols.

    "I think, moving forward, it will probably also include the police sending specialists to advise on how to secure properties".

    Rabbi Herschel Gluck, President of the North East London Shomrim neighbourhood watch organisation, told the Press Association that he felt "deep shock and concern at the possible ramifications of this terrorist atrocity".

    Rabbi Roni Tabick of the New Stoke Newington Shul, said that his community had been “shocked and horrified by the terrible attack.

    "We as a community were actually celebrating Iftar with the East London mosque last night, at an interfaith event, and to think at the same time someone was planning to murder Muslims in our local community is quite harrowing for us.

    “We’re looking to find ways to show support and solidarity and find ways to work together to increase love and peace in the world”.

    Rabbi Mendy Korer, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Islington,said: “The Jewish community of Islington is saddened by the news of the horrible attack in Finsbury Park, and stands together with our Muslim brothers and sisters. 

    "Islington is made up of different nationalities and faiths. We have got to know so many wonderful people that do so much to keep the fabric of our community together. Let's not allow this atrocity to break us apart. We live together, we celebrate together and we mourn together.”

    Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, expressed sympathy with the victims and their families.

    He said: “We utterly condemn the vile, terrorist attack at the Finsbury Park Mosque last night. To target those at worship or observing their faith is a betrayal of our British values of tolerance, respect and kindness, on which our society is built. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families.”

    Rabbi Laura Janner Klausner, senior rabbi for the Movement for Reform Judaism, said: “I condemn this terrorist attack and send prayers of condolence and strength to those affected.

    "This is not true Britain; this is abhorrent. We must stand together against Islamophobia and all forms of incitement, fighting hatred and extremism wherever it occurs. Today we stand with our Muslim friends in solidarity and unity”.

    Jonathan Arkush, President of the Board of Deputies, said:

    "We condemn the attack on Muslim worshippers in Finsbury Park last night, which appears to be a terrorist incident. Our heartfelt sympathy, thoughts and prayers are with the victims.

    This weekend, the Jewish community joined Muslims and others up and down the country for the Great Get Together in memory of Jo Cox.  All good people must stand together and join in rejecting hatred and violence from wherever it comes. The way forward is to strengthen the moderate majority and repudiate and marginalise extremism of every type. Hatred of people because of their religion has no place in our society."

    The Zionist Federation released a statement condemning the "ugly attack.

    "Terrorism is terrorism whether it comes from the Far Right, Islamists or any other form of extremism.

    "We must all stand together in the fight against terror and against hatred". 

    Edie Friedman, executive director of JCORE, expressed shock at the attack.

    She said: "Yesterday, to honour the life of Jo Cox, I attended a More in Common Event for the Great Get Together at JW3. Seeing this project between Muslim and Jewish teenagers showed what can be done to heal some of the many wounds in our society. On so many different levels we have to think through long and short term strategy to repair the damage done by recent appalling acts, and in so doing, we must tackle some of the many divisions within our society which must not be ignored."

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