Cairo, June 19 (IANS/AKI) Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, on Monday condemned the attack in north London by a van driver who ploughed into a group of Muslims, injuring ten.

The Muslims had been helping a man who had collapsed on the pavement and who died after the van rammed into the pedestrians.

“We categorically reject this terrorist and racist act,” said a statement from the Al-Azhar.

“We call on western nations to adopt all the necessary measures to halt the phenomenon of Islamophobia.

“Such incidents, which strike at Muslims and undermine the human values which ensure peaceful cohabitation must be prevented in future, irrespective of faith or nationality,” it said, offering “the most sincere condolences to the victim’s families for this violent and distressing incident”.

Police arrested a 48-year-old white man suspected of carrying out the attack on the group of Muslims near Finsbury Park mosque shortly after midnight. Witnesses alleged he tried to escape after the attack, shouting: “I want to kill Muslims – you deserve it,” and “I did my bit”.

Police said all the victims of the attack were Muslim and many were believed to have just left evening prayers after breaking the Ramadan fast. Several were critically injured in the attack, according to police.

British Prime Minister Theresa May deplored the “sickening” attack in which she said the driver acted alone.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said the incident was “quite clearly an attack on Muslims”.

The Muslim Council of Britain urged security to be immediately tightened outside mosques and called Monday’s attack “most violent manifestation to date” of recent Islamophobic incidents.

The attack came after three deadly Islamist terror attacks in Britain in four months, including a nail bombing and two assaults in which pedestrians were rammed with vehicles and fatally stabbed.

This is published unedited from the IANS feed.