‘The loss of my father is a black hole that will always remain’

Five years on from Finsbury Park Mosque terror attack, Islamophobia ‘getting worse and worse’

Saturday, 25th June — By Anna Lamche

Laying the wreath

Laying the wreath for Makram Ali

THE daughter of a man who died in the Finsbury Park Mosque terror attack has described the loss of her father as a “a black hole [that] will always remain,” amid warnings that Islamophobia has “got worse” in the years since the tragedy.

Five years ago, Makram Ali, 51, was killed on his way home from Muslim Welfare House as a van driven by the far-right terrorist Darren Osborne ploughed into a crowd of worshippers gathering after evening prayers. Nine other people were injured.

Speaking to the Tribune this week, Ruzina Akhtar said her father’s death is “something you can’t ever forget” She said the attack happened on “the road right next to our house. We walk past it every single day of our lives.

“I can still clearly see those images: this is where the van was positioned, this is where Darren Osborne was [detained] by the crowd, this is where my dad was lying,” Ms Akhtar added. “It is hard: every single day it’s in front of our eyes.”

 

Makram Ali with Ruzina and her son at Ruzina’s graduation

“Some times are harder. The month of Ramadan, when we sit to break our fast, there’s an empty space at our table where dad always used to sit. We’ve got constant reminders – Eid, birthdays, weddings – of him not being here,” she said. “I don’t think it gets easier – I think the black hole will always remain. That black hole may seem to get smaller with the years and all the happy memories we end up creating, but it will always remain.

“He was one of the most loveable human beings, he always had a smile on his face.”

On Sunday, five years after the terror attack, politicians, faith leaders, police, victims of the attack and their families gathered in Finsbury Park to reflect on the tragedy.

Flowers were laid in a nearby park beside a plaque reading “Makram Ali – a husband, father and beloved grandfather to his dearest Zarif and Seyam.”

Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque, warned that Islamophobia is “getting worse and worse”.

He said: “Nothing has changed… Islamophobia is still in our lives.” “Theresa May visited us and promised us actions and steps would be taken seriously to tackle Islamophobia – but here we are five years on and nothing’s changed. Lots of British Muslims don’t feel safe on the streets,” Mr Kozbar warned. He said tensions are heightened by some elements of the media

“Sometimes the right-wing media exaggerates things, or print stories that aren’t true, and that inflames the situation,” he said. “These things need to be looked at. Let’s hope that this will happen in the future.”

But for Mr Kozbar, “if anything good comes from this incident, it’s that it brought people together in Islington to unite against hatred. We are stronger now,” he said.

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