British Muslim leaders have condemned the terrorist attack in Westminster, with many imams expected to express shock and horror at Friday prayers.
More than a dozen faith leaders – Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and Jews – met officers at Scotland Yard on Thursday to discuss responses to the Westminster attack.
The Muslim Council of Britain, which condemned the attack and offered prayers for the victims on Wednesday, issued a further statement on Thursday praising the Met police, the prime minister and the mayor of London.
The group’s general secretary, Harun Khan, said: “This attack was cowardly and depraved. There is no justification for this act whatsoever. The best response to this outrage is to make sure we come together in solidarity and not allow the terrorists to divide us.
“I hope my Muslim brothers and sisters will reach out to fellow Londoners and Britons in solidarity to demonstrate that such hatred will not defeat our way of life.”
The attack was “appalling and barbaric”, said Mohammed Kozbar, chair of the Finsbury Park mosque.
“The killing of innocent victims should be condemned by everyone. We must stand together against those people who would use this incident to spread extremist views and also those who would spread fear and hate within our society. Hopefully, this will unite us against all kinds of extremism, hate and racism.”
The East London mosque, the oldest in the capital and the largest in the UK, said: “We are saddened by the appalling attack in Westminster that resulted in tragic deaths and injuries. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and their loved ones. Such heinous acts of mindless violence must not be allowed to cause division and hatred among our communities, rather we must remain united and stand in solidarity with all.”
In Birmingham, 55,000 copies of a booklet, Terrorism Is Not Islam, a 12-page guide produced by the city’s central mosque to answer questions such as “are suicide attacks lawful in Islam?” and “does the foreign policy of the west or other grievances justify killing non-Muslims?”, were handed out at mosques, schools and shops with the support of West Midlands police.
The mosque’s chairman, Mohammad Afzal, condemned the London attacks and suggested the intelligence services should have monitored the perpetrator. “Why did MI5 not keep an eye on him?” he asked.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said the attack should not be used to incite hatred. “The reason terrorists want to attack London is because they hate the fact that we don’t just tolerate each other – whether you’re a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, member of an organised faith or not – we respect, embrace and celebrate each other and that’s going to carry on.”
Khan, a Muslim, said: “One of the reasons why millions of our fellow citizens who are of Islamic faith don’t follow the nihilistic teachings of some of these charismatic preachers of hate is because we’re resilient, we know the true Islam, we reject people when they say Christians can’t be friends with Muslims, or there’s a conspiracy from the Jews against us.”