Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 28 May 2020

Mosque targeted by knifeman is London landmark

London Central Mosque is run by board of trustees from 20 Muslim nations

London Central Mosque near Regent's Park in London. AFP
London Central Mosque near Regent's Park in London. AFP

The London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre is a symbol of Muslim unity in the heart of London, as well as a place of worship.

It was also the scene of an attack by a knifeman who stabbed a muezzin in the neck as he was leading the call to prayer, police said on Thursday.

The mosque's board of trustees compromises the ambassadors of 20 Muslim nations while the senior posts are held by diplomats from Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

Despite its symbolism as one of the country’s most important mosques, security is relatively low-key at a time when violence against the faith has grown over the past decade.

It has its own security guards, but no metal detecting arches to prevent weapons from being brought into the building, community leaders said after the knife attack inside one of its prayer halls on Thursday.

“This certainly wasn’t the first time someone has been attacked here and it won’t be the last," said Walid Mohammed, 39, a worshipper at the mosque.

“They should be looking at people for security. Any good worshipper wouldn’t mind being asked some extra questions.

"This won’t affect the day-to-day running of the mosque. People will visit the mosque more.”

It has held events to highlight concerns over extremism in the UK. Former Home Secretary Sajid Javid gave a speech there after the New Zealand terrorist attacks on mosques, to promote interfaith understanding.

The land for the mosque was given by the wartime government of Winston Churchill but it took nearly three decades before it was completed.

It is one of the most highly sought-after areas of London, next to Lord’s, the home of world cricket, on land abutting Regent’s Park and close to upmarket residential districts.

The mosque was built at a cost of £6 million with donations from Saudi Arabia and Sheikh Zayed, the Founding President of the UAE.

It was listed in 2018, marking it as a particularly important site and giving it protection.

Updated: February 21, 2020 02:06 AM

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