Political and faith leaders join Muslim Aid’s ‘Street Iftar’ to celebrate community cohesion

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LONDON: One year on from the Finsbury Park terrorist attack, Jeremy Corbyn, Leader, Labour Party, other high-profile parliamentarians and representatives from all faiths joined the community for a Street Iftar. The event on Wednesday 6 June was organised by the Muslim Welfare House, Finsbury Park mosque and the charity MuslimAid to pay tribute to those affected by the incident but also to celebrate the public spirit following the attack.
The attack which occurred outside the Muslim Welfare House on 19 June 2017, tragically killed one man and injured eight people when a van drove into pedestrians. Imam Mohamed Mahmoud led the community in a peaceful response when he urged the crowd to be calm and restrained following the attack. Over two thousand people from all faiths and backgrounds joined this British style summer street party combined with a traditional Iftar.

A general view of the ‘Street Iftar Party’ organised by prominent charity organisation Muslim Aid.

Together, sitting along the street they were served biryani, samosas, kebab, chickpea masala and dates. The event aimed to highlight some of the common British and Muslim values, like looking after ones’ neighbours and coming together in times of crisis. It commemorated the incident but celebrated our intermingled cultures and strong community spirit.
Imam Mohamed Mahmoud, from the Muslim Welfare House, said in a statement: “Our primary concern since that day has been for the victims and their families who continue to deal with the consequences of this terrible attack. What was shown following that night is that these events bring out the best in all of us, as diamonds are only formed under pressure.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, Jehangir Malik (CEO, Muslim Aid) and Rabbi Gluck at the ‘Street Iftar Party’.

We received outpourings of support from all over the world from people of all backgrounds who have the capacity to care for others whom they have had no contact with. “It was a glimmer of hope after a bleak situation and showed the inherent goodness of the people of our nation and across the globe. Today we want to say thank you forthat.We have a common cause; to stand on one footing for humanity, quality, justice and peace.” Speakers included Jeremy Corbyn MP for Islington North and Leader of the Labour Party who said: “It was murder on the streets of our community and our response was to come together. The racists will never win and we will never allow them to win.’’ Jehangir Malik, CEO of the charity MuslimAid said: “The response from the community has been phenomenal and shows those thatseek divide to usthat the opposite has happened.”
An ‘overwhelmed’ Ruzina Akhtar, the daughter of Mr Ali, told the crowd her family “would like to remember the positives’ that came after the tragedy, including the community spirit it generated. “Also everyone that was around us. We’re very happy to be part of this community and to be in this country with such a loving, diverse community around us.

Group picture taken at the ‘Street Iftar party’shows Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, Jehangir
Malik (CEO, Muslim Aid) Rabbi Gluck and other community leaders and volunteers

We would just like to thank everyone for their support and the love that they’ve shown and hope they continue to do so.” Other speakers included Yassin Hersi who was the last person to speak to victim Makram Ali. The white van ran over Mr Hersi’s foot and broke his ankle. Speaker Rabbi Herschel Gluck OBE was one of the first people to help after the attack, in his role as president of Shomrim, nearby Stamford Hill’s Jewish voluntary security group.
He was on the street all night, supporting the community by contacting Scotland Yard and attending meetings the next day with the police, Islington Council, the Prime Minister and other ministers. Also in attendance were Reverend Jennifer Potter of Wesley’s Chapel, MethodistChurch,Islington, and Reverend Michael Learmouth of St.Andrew’s, Church of England, Islington. This event was also supported by the Somali Association of Britain, Somali Welfare Centre, Islington Somali Community, Back 2 Basic Create and the Al Risala Mosque and the Holloway Education and Cultural Centre.