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  1. ITV Report

Imam awarded OBE for heroic response to Finsbury Park mosque terror attack

A hero imam who jumped to the defence of the Finsbury Park terror attacker, moments after he ploughed his van into worshippers has been awarded an OBE.

Imam Mohammed Mahmoud, who is now based at the East London Mosque in Whitechapel, was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to the community.

He was awarded the honour by Prince William at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.

In the immediate aftermath of the Finsbury Park attack in June 2017, Imam Mahmoud protected far-right attacker Darren Osborne who had driven a van into a packed pavement of Muslim worshippers.

Imam Mohammed Mahmoud is made an OBE. Credit: PA

Speaking to ITV News after receiving the honour on Thursday, he said he has never accepted the term ‘hero', but was "humbled" to receive the award.

“Heroes are those who go beyond the line of duty, whereas what I did on that night, with a group of other congregants from our mosque, was not extraordinary,” the imam said.

“It was our duty to de-escalate the situation and to calm people down and to bring people to their senses and that thankfully is what happened.”

The mosque attack on June 19 killed 51-year-old Makram Ali, and injured nine others, but the imam received global attention when he shielded Osborne from angry worshippers.

Imam Mahmoud kept the crowd from hurting Osborne by standing in front of him until police arrived.

Video from the scene shows Osborne being protected by the imam who pushes the crowd back.

The imam can be seen holding back the crowd as Darren Osborne is arrested.

He was praised for his reaction and last year the imam told ITV News he wanted to prevent a “cowardly reaction” to a “cowardly attack.”

Imam Mahmoud said his reaction to protect Osborne was a "natural ... normal response, to not reciprocate his cowardly attack with a cowardly reaction".

In February 2018, Osborne was jailed for life, with a minimum term of 43 years, after being convicted of murder and attempted murder.

The imam was among a record number of British Muslims named in the Queen’s 2019 New Year’s Honours list.

Prince William awarded the OBE to imam Mahmoud. Credit: PA

Last year, he spoke to Rageh Omaar as part of the ITV News series Young, British and Muslim and said the 12 months after the attack had been “quite strange.”

“[What I did] was a normal act. Normal for a Muslim and normal for a human being who respects process, who respects law and order,” he said.

He added: “I think what the British public are still unaware of concerning Muslims is how normal we are, is how our interests are almost identical to everyone else's interests.

Prince William visited the scene of the Finsbury Park attack just days after it happened. Credit: PA

“We don't create a barrier or distinguish ourselves from the 'non-Muslim' counterpart of ours.”

Recently, Imam Mahmoud travelled to New Zealand in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, in which 50 people were killed and dozens more were wounded.

English football captain Harry Kane was among the other recipients to be awarded at Buckingham Palace.

The 25-year-old Tottenham Hotspurs striker received an MBE for services to football and in recognition of England’s semi-final run at the 2018 World Cup.