After the deadly London mosque van attack, Imam Mohammed Mahmoud is being praised by members of the community, as well as people across the world, for having protected the attacker from angry bystanders who saw the man callously plow into their friends.
As people pinned the man to the ground and hit him, Mahmoud told the mob to stop touching him.
According to witness Hussain Ali, 28, the imam “said 'You do not touch him.' He was sitting and holding him like that, people kept holding him.”
Muslim Welfare House's CEO, Toufik Kacimi, told reporters that Mahmoud "went quickly and grabbed the guy because the people there were trying to hit and kick the guy, but he saved him, and kept him safe until the police arrived."
Later, when talking to the media, Mahmoud insisted he did nothing special.
“There were a group of brothers who were calm and collected and managed to calm people down and to extinguish any flames of anger or mob rule that would have taken charge had this group of mature brothers not stepped in," he said.
He told CNN he stepped outside shortly after prayers when “a brother came in, quite panicked, and said that somebody had run over a group of people and tried to kill them so we rushed out.”
“We found about 15 to 20 people on the scene tending to the injured, administering CPR on the brother who is now deceased, and three people restraining the assailant," he continued. "[T]hey couldn't hold him down and push back the people trying to hit him, so we pushed those people back."
Many who were present said that if Mahmoud hadn't intervened, the situation could have turned potentially dangerous and even deadlier.
Fearing the attacker's actions perhaps prove that the “demonization” of Muslims “at the hands of those who ... wish to divide this country and divide this great city has succeeded to some extent,” the imam added that the Finsbury Park community “is mild-mannered, calm ... not known for violence. Our mosques are incredibly peaceful. Immediately after the incident, people were praying for the victims of the attack.”
Instead of more hatred, the imam said he hopes to see more people uniting against both extremism and similar acts of hate.
Thankfully, the quick-thinking of this imam helped to bring a tense situation to an end. Still, we hope others don't attempt to copy the attacker's actions, while trying to blame the entire local Muslim community for the actions of people who claim to act on behalf of Islam.