Hamas-Israel war: Finsbury Park Mosque chairman calls for ceasefire, warns of ‘divisive rhetoric’ in politics

Mohammed Kozbar described the past few days as “very tough for our congregation and members”, and raised concerns about the ongoing offensive in Gaza.
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The chairman of a north London Mosque has called for an “immediate ceasefire” in the war between Hamas and Israel “so many innocent lives from both sides can be saved”.

Finsbury Park Mosque’s Mohammed Kozbar told LondonWorld the past few days in particular have been tough for the religious centre’s congregation, as the conflict in the Middle East intensifies.

Since terrorists from the Islamic militant organisation Hamas launched an attack on Israel on the morning of October 7, more than 1,400 Israelis and 3,700 Palestinians have been killed, according to official sources.

At least seven British nationals are among the dead, the UK Government has said.

The BBC reports that at least 203 people are thought to have been taken hostage by Hamas.

Israel is preparing to launch a ground invasion of Gaza, with the city having been consistently bombed since Hamas's attack on October 7. Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images.Israel is preparing to launch a ground invasion of Gaza, with the city having been consistently bombed since Hamas's attack on October 7. Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images.
Israel is preparing to launch a ground invasion of Gaza, with the city having been consistently bombed since Hamas's attack on October 7. Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images.

Rishi Sunak flew to Israel earlier today (October 19) to hold talks with president Benjamin Netanyahu and express solidarity.

His visit comes just a couple of days after a hospital in Gaza was destroyed, leaving hundreds dead. Conflicting claims have been made about who was behind the incident.

Mr Kozbar described the past few days as “very tough for our congregation and members”, and said he is concerned about the ongoing offensive in Gaza and its ramifications in the UK.

He called out the government and opposition’s “divisive rhetoric”, which he claims has caused concerns among the community.

Mohammed Kozbar, chairman at Finsbury Park Mosque. Credit: Finsbury Park Mosque.Mohammed Kozbar, chairman at Finsbury Park Mosque. Credit: Finsbury Park Mosque.
Mohammed Kozbar, chairman at Finsbury Park Mosque. Credit: Finsbury Park Mosque.

Both Mr Sunak, leader of the Conservative Party, and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer have faced criticism for comments on the conflict. Sir Keir this week sent a letter to councillors explaining his position, after several resignations were filed following an appearance on LBC in which he appeared to say that Israel has the right to cut off water and power supplies into Gaza.

“They fear they are being singled out for their pro-Palestine activism,” Mr Kozbar said. “We have witnessed Muslim women scared to go out alone because some of them have been attacked and abused. We have heard reports of students being intimidated in university, Muslim doctors being maliciously reported for the pro-Palestine stances.

“This has led to a worrying, chilling effect and fear within our congregation. We hope and pray that this war will end soon and urge our politicians to call for an immediate ceasefire so many innocent lives from both sides can be saved.”

Several protests and vigils have been held in London since Hamas’s attack. Hundreds gathered last night (October 18) at Downing Street to commemorate the Palestinian victims of the deadly strike on the Al-Ahli al-Arabi hospital in Gaza.

“We’re dealing with two deeply traumatised groups of people and we need to be aware of that,” he said.

“We need to deal with the situation bearing that in mind, we need to feel, we need to care, we need to see through that prism.

“We need to act in a way that will de-escalate the situation.

“It’s been extremely traumatic, extremely painful to see the mass slaughter of Jewish people but the violence and the cycle of violence is deeply worrying.

“We need to find a way forward to stop the bloodshed, to stop the violence, to step by step create a better future. At times like this it’s very difficult to achieve.”