London:car ‘swerves into crowd’ outside Islamic Centre
Three men were hurt when a car struck several people outside a north London Islamic centre.
Witnesses described hearing the driver “shouting anti-Islamic taunts” at the Muslim prayer centre in Cricklewood.
The Met Police said it was being dealt with as an Islamophobic hate crime but is not thought to be terrorist-related.
The driver of the car failed to stop and two men were taken to hospital following the incident at about 00:35 BST.
It happened at the Al-majlis Al-Hussaini centre at the junction of Oxgate Lane and Edgware Road.
One witness said the driver “was trying to kill people”.
Ali Salman said he was “milliseconds” from injury as the car swerved into groups of people leaving the Islamic centre following a lecture.
“This was someone who was trying to take out as many people as possible. He swerved left right trying to hit people,” he added.
A man in his 50s remains in hospital and is being treated for a serious leg injury. Two other men, both in their 20s, suffered minor injuries. The collision happened outside the Al-majlis Al-Hussaini Islamic centre
Before the attack a group of three men and a woman in their mid 20s were asked to leave a private car park at the premises by volunteer stewards, police said.
The group had allegedly been behaving anti-socially, drinking and using drugs.
Speaking at the scene, Ch Supt Simon Rose said when the stewards challenged the group, “they were subjected to a tirade of Islamophobic and racist abuse”.
The car then drove near the mosque and the group were involved in a confrontation with a large number of people outside.
Their car was then reportedly damaged by some of the crowd before it sped off, colliding with three people.
Ch Supt Rose said it was “extremely fortunate” that no-one was killed.
“It is being dealt with as an Islamophobic hate crime and it is being dealt with as a racist hate crime,” he added.
“It is not at this time being dealt with as a counter-terrorism incident, as always subject to continuous review.”
A spokesman for the Hussaini Association, which had been holding a series of lectures at the Islamic centre, said: “We are in deep shock at such an attack taking place on our community.
“We remain proud to live in a diverse and tolerant society and as such we remain unintimidated.”
Dawn Butler, MP for Brent Central, tweeted: “This is a very sad and tragic event. There is no room for hate.
“Brent is the most diverse constituency in the UK and our diversity is our strength.”
The Met has urged anyone with information to come forward and said inquiries are under way to trace the car.
Det Sgt Kelly Schonhage said: “Extra neighbourhood police patrols have been stepped up in the area and officers will be on hand to speak with those in the local community.” source BBC