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The Muslim-born owner of Borough Market’s largest restaurant has spoken of his concerns over community relations at the market following Saturday’s terror attacks which killed seven people.
Iqbal Wahhab, the founder of Roast, said there could be change of attitude towards Muslims within wider society and within the market’s community of traders and workers following the latest attack.
“How people respond will take a few more days to unravel. Borough Market is an incredibly tight knit community - we are all there with a common purpose and a common cause.
“I hope this won’t break the resolve of people to stay united. There will be people who, whether they articulate it or not, will feel resentful towards people whose religion has been used to justify these terrible attacks. It’s understandable,” he told the Guardian.
Roast, a first floor British restaurant overlooking the covered market, is yards from where two of the three alleged terrorists were shot and killed after terrorising thousands of people drinking and eating near London Bridge in south London.
During the incident, dozens of people took shelter in the restaurant as events unfolded below them. Reports claimed that the assailants were at one point seen attacking someone outside Roast’s entrance.
Wahhab, who chaired the the government’s ethnic minority employment group for nine years, employs at least ten Muslims out of 100 members of staff at the restaurant. He was away from the restaurant when the incident happened but has since spoken to members of staff about the attacks.
“In the general spirit of how Borough Market works, people came together during the attack. It is such a busy area - on the weekend’s especially. It is clearly an obvious target,” he said.
Wahhab, 53, was born in Bangladesh and is also an adviser to the anti-extremist pressure group the Quilliam Foundation. He said he naturally agrees with exploring new measures to combat extremism but is sceptical that longer sentences, such as proposed by Theresa May, will help.
“I don’t know about tougher sentences - if you are a suicidal bomber or attacker, longer sentences won’t deter you,” he said.
The government should rely less upon religious leaders and really try to bring integrated Muslims on board, people who live their lives in a contented manner who say there is scope to prosper in the West. We should actively engage Muslim professionals instead of professional Muslims.”
Tens of thousands of food lovers are drawn every weekend to the market, which traces its history at least to the 13th century but may date as far back as Roman times. Originally based at the southern side of London bridge, its 100 or so stalls now occupy a network of railway viaducts near the Thames in Southwark.
There are more than 100 traders, who run restaurants, bars, wholesalers of staple British fare and high quality “delicatessen” retailers.
Theresa May defends her record on police funding – latest updates  Theresa May defends her record on police funding – latest updates Reviewed by Alexander Von Stern on 04:12:00 Rating: 5