London (AFP) – The multi-ethnic London neighbourhood of Finsbury Park, which has strong Jewish and Muslim communities, came out against terrorism on Monday after a white man drove a van into a crowd of Muslim worshippers near a local mosque.
“This hideous crime is NOT who we are. Finsbury Park represents the rest of London. Love and tolerance,” read a hand-written note left beside the bouquets of flowers that residents placed near the scene of the attack.
A multi-coloured sign left by local schoolchildren read simply: “One Community Standing Together”.
“Leave Our Muslim Neighbours Alone,” said a placard held up by Alison, who told AFP that she was “upset and angry that my neighbourhood has been defiled by these people who are racists and idiots”.
“I’ve been here for over 35 years and it’s always been mixed and really peaceful and I don’t want to see that change,” said the short-haired woman, who said she was in her 60s.
Finsbury Park is one of the many areas of London that has seen successive waves of immigration, from East European Jews in the 19th century, followed by the Irish, Caribbean islanders, Cypriots and Somalis.
Shorts and djellabas, mini-skirts and niqabs live side by side in this working-class area close to Arsenal Football Club’s Emirates Stadium, an epitome of London’s melting pot.
“It’s sickening… But it won’t change anything,” said Wilson Sawane, a 29-year-old Senegalese man.
“Tomorrow on the football pitch it’s still going to be white, black and Arab. It’s like that here.”
Representatives of Shomrim, the north London Haredi Jewish community’s civilian volunteer security force, also came to the scene of the attack in solidarity.
“We came with a whole team just to show our support for the Muslim community,” said volunteer Eli Feld, 29, whose force helps protect the area’s Muslims too.
Local rabbi Mendy Korer said it was important for everyone to take responsibility for building better relations between communities.
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