British Jewish leaders condemn London van attack on Muslim worshippers

Jun 19, 2017

(JTA) — The deadly van-ramming attack at a mosque in London is “a painful illustration of why we must never allow hatred to breed hatred,” Britain’s chief rabbi said.

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said his thoughts were with those affected by the attack just after midnight Monday in which a van drove into a group of people standing in front of the Finsbury Park Mosque in North London, killing one person and injuring 10. All the victims are Muslims, according to reports.

Some bystanders told reporters that the van’s driver said “Kill all Muslims” and “I did it” following the attack, and he reportedly smiled and waved at the crowds as he was taken away in a police cruiser.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews condemned the attack in a statement issued shortly after it occurred.

“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 marginalize extremism of every type,” the statement said.

The statement added: “Hatred of people because of their religion has no place in our society.”

British police said the incident was being investigated as an act of terrorism, which would make it the fourth such attack in England since March, including two van-ramming and stabbing attacks on and near London Bridge, and a bombing outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

The van driver in the mosque attack was arrested after being seized and prevented from fleeing by bystanders; a Muslim imam reportedly stopped the crowd from injuring the attacker. His mental health reportedly will be assessed.

The European Jewish Congress in a statement called the attack “unconscionable.”

“We condemn this attack and its attempt to escalate tensions in the UK and we stand firmly beside our Muslim brothers and sisters in the aftermath of this attack,” EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor said in the statement. “An attack on one religion is an attack on all religions, and all people and faiths must stand together against terror.”