A car drove into a crowd of Muslims leaving a mosque in London, England, while the vehicle’s occupants allegedly made “Islamophobic” comments. The incident left several people injured.
According to the Metropolitan Police, three men and a woman, all in their twenties, were sitting in the vehicle in the mosque’s private car park “behaving anti-socially, drinking and allegedly using drugs” before security told them to leave.
After driving near to the Islamic center, the car’s occupants “were involved in a confrontation with a large group of people” visiting the mosque in Cricklewood, north London. Visitors were attending a lecture series on the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson.
“Words were exchanged and comments of an Islamophobic nature were allegedly made by the group in the car,” the police release said.
“The car then reportedly sustained minor damage by some of those outside the centre. It proceeded to make off at speed colliding with three individuals as it left.
“The car and its occupants who failed to stop and injured three people are being sought by police. No arrests have been made.”
Two men in their twenties suffered minor injuries and were taken to hospital. A third man in his fifties was hospitalized with a serious leg injury and remains under the care of doctors.
Police said the incident, which took place at around 12:35 a.m. Wednesday, London time, is not being treated as terror related “but the hate crime aspect of the collision is being looked at by detectives as an aggravating factor.”
“We are treating this incident very seriously and a number of enquiries are underway to trace the car and those involved,” Detective Sergeant Kelly Schonhage said in a statement.
“Enquiries into the full circumstances of the collision are ongoing. If you were there at the time and have information I would urge you to contact police with information. 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.”
The Hussaini Association, which held the event at the Islamic center, posted a statement to its Twitter account describing the incident as a “suspected premeditated Islamophobic attack.
“The driver was a Caucasian male and had 3 passengers in the car with him. The passengers were two males and a female, all of them were also of Caucasian origin. They were heard shouting anti-Islamic taunts at the crowd before they started their attack.
“Fortunately, a number of volunteers bravely stood between the speeding vehicle and patrons heading home. These acts of bravery potentially saved the lives of dozens of innocent people from being taken.
“We are in deep shock at such an attack taking place on our community but remain proud to live in a diverse and tolerant society and as such we remain unintimidated and encourage all to continue to attend the Majils (gathering) of Hussein, a man who defied a tyrant to deliver a message of love, unity and patience which we remember to this day.”
Footage allegedly showing the aftermath of the incident was posted to Facebook.