Authorities face questions over handling of London mosque attack

How Muslims feel after the Finsbury Park attack
How Muslims feel after the Finsbury Park attack

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How Muslims feel after the Finsbury Park attack 01:22

Story highlights

  • Mosque claims media was slow to label it terrorism
  • Questions are raised over police preparedness for a hate attack

London (CNN)Authorities and the media faced questions Monday over whether they treated the terror attack on a group of Muslim worshipers in north London in the same way as other, Islamist-inspired incidents.

Some members of the community suggested in the aftermath of Monday's Finsbury Park attack -- which left one man dead and 10 injured -- that it was not handled the same way as the attacks on London Bridge and Westminster attacks earlier this year.
    Police did not publicly declare the Finsbury Park attack as terrorism until well into Monday morning.
    In the hours immediately following the attack, the Metropolitan Police in public statements described it as a "vehicle in collision with pedestrians."
    At around 3 a.m. a London police spokesman told CNN it was "too early" to say if it was a terrorist attack. At 4:46 a.m. the Met stated that its Counter Terrorism Command was investigating the incident. The first statement describing it as a "terrorist attack" came at 8:27 a.m.
    After the London Bridge attack earlier this month, police had described it publicly as a terrorist incident within two and a half hours. After the Westminster attack in March it took police just over two hours to do so.
    Later on Monday police insisted that, internally at least, the Finsbury Park incident was treated as a terror attack at 12.29 a.m., a few minutes after officers arrived on the scene.

    Media attacked

    The media was also criticized for being slow to call the incident a terror attack. An hour after police arrived, one resident wrote on Twitter that "agitated" bystanders were classifying the incident as terrorism and questioned the media response.
    "Citizens agitated in Finsbury Park - 'where is the BBC? This white man is a terrorist'." Police trying to calm everybody & move cordon back," reported Hillary Briffa who said she lived on the street affected.
    In a statement issued around six hours after the incident, the Finsbury Park Mosque condemned the "heinous terrorist attack" and said: "We are extremely unhappy with the mainstream media not reporting this as a terrorist attack, whereas they are very swift in describing attacks involving individuals professing to be Muslims and acting in the name of Islam."
    At a press conference on Monday, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was asked by a reporter if the threat from Islamophobia has been "underestimated." Khan replied: "Terrorism is terrorism. It doesn't matter whether you are inspired by a perverse version of Islam or inspired by some other motives to try and terrorize others. The intention is the same, to divide communities."
    He added: "I receive briefings from the counter terror team and the good news is the counter terrorism team have been recognizing for a while now there are terrorists motivated by other means other than perverse Islamist motivation. The police recognize this is an additional challenge they face."
    CNN Terrorism Analyst Paul Cruickshank said Monday afternoon: "The police need to get a sense of the motivation of the culprit or culprits and mechanics of the attack before they make that call. In this case, if you compare it to other attacks in the period after 9/11 the determination it was terrorism actually came relatively quickly and there have been forceful statements coming out from the Muslim mayor of London and the Prime Minister condemning it as a terrorist atrocity."