Imam stabbed while leading Fajr prayers in New Jersey mosque

The picture shows armed assailant running to attack the imam in Paterson, New Jersey. — Twitter screengrab/@paykhar
  • Unknown assailant stabs imam multiple times in US.
  • Imam is in stable condition, being treated for ‘punctured lung’. 
  • Suspect was performing prayer with over 200 worshippers. 

An imam was stabbed on Sunday while he was leading Fajr prayers at a mosque in Paterson, New Jersey by a man who was caught by the worshippers, a spokesperson for the mosque said.

According to the local officials, the imam is now in stable condition and is being treated for a “punctured lung”.

“Imam Sayed Elnakib was stabbed during the first prayer of the day, around 5:30am, at Omar Mosque in south Paterson while the congregation was kneeling for prayer,” CNN quoted the mosque spokesperson, Abdul Hamdan as saying.

As per the details, the suspected assailant — who was also performing prayer with over 200 other worshippers at the mosque on Sunday morning — stabbed the imam multiple times. 

“The suspect lunged forward with a knife and stabbed Imam Sayed multiple times – at least twice,” Hamdan said.

However, the worshippers managed to catch the suspect while he tried to escape and held him “until the police arrived” and apprehended him, he added.

New Jersey Mayor Andre Sayegh said he visited Imam Elnakib, who was “in better spirits than before”.

Sayegh said Elnakib was being treated for a punctured lung. The mayor said a suspect was detained, but the motive is not clear.

The stabbing comes during Ramadan, the holiest month for Muslims, in one of the incidents motivated by rising Islamophobia in the West.

Last week, a “hate-motivated attack” on a mosque in Markham city, in the Canadian state of Ontario shocked the country.

Addressing a news conference on Sunday, Andre Sayegh lauded the worshippers for successfully apprehending the suspect and ensured of increased security at mosques in Paterson.

“This is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar year and we want to make sure that the safety of those that are just coming to pray is a priority for us and that we take this situation very seriously,” he continued.

“We want to let anyone who is coming to worship know that they can do this in peace without any fear of being attacked,” he added.

Local area representative Al Abdel-aziz expressed solidarity with everyone affected in the incident, which he said had deeply saddened him.

“While it is unclear what motivated the attacker, there is no justification for violence of any kind, especially in a sacred space,” he wrote in a Facebook post, while also praying for early recovery of the imam.

Paterson — a city with a population of more than 150,000, is home to one of the largest Muslim communities in the state of New Jersey. Meanwhile, New Jersey has more Muslims per capita than any other state in the US.

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