Memorial service at London mosque honours worshipper killed in terror attack

In 2017, Darren Osborne ploughed a van into people outside the Muslim Welfare House, killing Makram Ali and injuring 12

Children from Pakeman Primary School lay flowers in tribute to the victims of the terrorist attack in the Finsbury Park area of north London five years ago.  AFP
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Dozens of people gathered at Finsbury Park Mosque in north London on Sunday to remember Makram Ali, who was killed during a terrorist attack in the area five years ago.

After listening to opening prayers at the memorial service, Ali’s daughter Ruzina Akhtar remembered her father as “one of the most gentle human beings you could have met” in a tearful tribute.

“He has been tragically taken from us five years ago,” said Ms Akhtar, on the anniversary of the attack which also injured 12 people.

“Our dad was first and foremost one of the most gentle human beings you could have met, who always had a smile on his face and was cracking jokes at the most random of times to make others laugh.

“He was a compassionate husband, a loving father and doting grandfather who was adored by everyone.

“His death has left a black hole, but remembering his smile and laughter we surround that hole with more love for one another, as he would have wanted.”

Sunday marks five years since Darren Osborne ploughed a hired van into worshippers gathered outside the nearby Muslim Welfare House shortly after evening Ramadan prayers.

Ms Akhtar said that “as a Muslim woman” she wanted everyone “to voice any Islamophobic behaviour as it still exists so it is tackled right away”.

Speaking at the service, the chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque Mohammed Kozbar told gathered crowds that Islamophobia in the UK had worsened over the years and that Muslims still do not feel safe.

“The problem we are facing is that since this attack took place not much has changed in tackling Islamophobia,” Mr Kozbar said.

“Even still, we don’t have a definition of Islamophobia.

“In fact, it is much worse now than it was five years ago with the institutionalisation of Islamophobia by this government and some sections of the media.

“We as Muslims are still feeling the effects of this attack and we won’t feel safe until Islamophobia is taken seriously by the authorities and the police.”

Toufik Kacimi, chief executive of the Muslim Welfare House, where the terrorist attack took place, said at the service “many of us just can’t forget that horrible night.”

“This incident was trying to divide us but it actually brought us together — as you can see, five years on we’re still coming together today,” said Mr Kacimi, and he called for the “root cause” of Islamophobia to be tackled.

“British Muslims still think that Islam is not compatible with Europe”, he said.

“We have to tell them, educate them that Islam is part of the fabric of this society — it is not a foreign religion that is going to go somewhere else.

Updated: June 19, 2022, 4:38 PM