Former EDL leader Tommy Robinson has prompted fury after accusing the Finsbury Park Mosque of ‘creating terrorists’ just an hour after people were mown down outside the place of worship as they left evening prayers.
Mr Robinson said the mosque had created ‘radical jihadists’ and was guilty of ‘promoting hate and segregation’.
The 34-year-old – real name is Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon – also described the mosque, where hate cleric Abu Hamza once preached, as a ‘centre of hate’.
His comments came just one hour after at least ten people were hit by a white van near the place of worship in north London.
It is believed the victims were Muslims leaving late-night prayers being observed for the month of Ramadan. One person is known to have died.
Former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson has been criticised for his comments in the wake of the attack
Mr Robinson later denied he was trying to justify the attack on the place of worship
He wrote: ‘The mosque where the attack happened tonight has a long history of creating terrorists & radical jihadists & promoting hate & segregation.’
Mr Robinson – who is now involved with the anti-Islamic group Pegida UK – also referred to the incident as a ‘revenge attack’.
His tweet sparked fury, with critics accusing the former EDL leader of attempting to justify the attack.
One Twitter user wrote: ‘Does that make it okay then? Because that’s exactly what it sounds like you’re trying to say.’
Another wrote: ‘So that’s an excuse to attack the Muslims from there?’
One outraged tweet read: ‘Sorry but what on earth does this have to do with the fact that innocent lives were lost? Are you trying to justify these acts?’
And another person wrote: ‘Does that make it ok then? Because that’s exactly what it sounds like you’re trying to say.’
Police were called just after midnight to reports of a vehicle in collision with pedestrians in Seven Sisters Road
Mr Robinson denied that his tweet was justifying the attack, instead insisting he was urging the authorities to ‘sort out centres of hate’.
He wrote: ‘I’m not justifying it, I’ve said many times if government or police don’t sort these centres of hate they will create monsters as seen tonight.’
Mr Robinson added: ‘I genuinely hope the innocent people targeted tonight outside the mosque are ok.’
The incident took place just after midnight when a white van driver screaming ‘I’m going to kill all Muslims’ mounted the pavement ploughed into worshippers as they left the mosque.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing bystanders wrestle the suspect to the floor and pin him down until officers arrived.
Emergency service crews were also spotted trying to save the injured victims.
A 48-year-old man has been arrested.
A Met spokesman said officers were called at 12.20am ‘to reports of a vehicle in collision with pedestrians’.
They added: ‘Officers are on scene with other emergency services. There are a number of casualties being worked on at the scene. There has been one person arrested.’
The incident follows two terrorist attacks in a matter of weeks at Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge.
TOMMY ROBINSON: THE TANNING SHOP OWNER WHO SET UP THE ENGLISH DEFENCE LEAGUE IN 2009
Tommy Robinson (pictured), whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, set up the EDL in 2009
Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, set up the English Defence League with Kevin Carroll in 2009 in response to protests by Muslim extremists against soldiers marching in Luton.
The 34-year-old, from Luton, used to run a tanning shop in the town, although he claimed on Twitter in March 2013 that ‘Polish girls took the shop over’.
The EDL has no normal joining procedures or membership list and its activities have been characterised by volatile street demonstrations and ‘flash mobs’. It also has a strong online presence.
The former leader of the EDL, who took his name from a prominent member of MIG hooligan crew which follows Luton Town FC, has repeatedly hit the headlines in the past after voicing his controversial views during marches across the country.
He has also voiced his opinions on television and radio interviews, including one with the BBC in the wake of the death of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich in May 2013.
The BBC was criticised for running an interview with Mr Robinson on Radio 4’s Today programme in June of that year, with some listeners claiming that it gave a ‘non-critical platform’ for his extremist views.
Robinson quit the EDL two years ago, saying his group was ‘part of the problem’. But, soon after, he was filmed rabble rousing at an anti-Muslim rally in Holland.
He has since been involved with Pegida UK, an offshoot of the anti-Islamic group Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident, which launched in Dresden, Germany.