A 65-year-old Imam was stabbed on Sunday while leading prayer at a mosque in New Jersey, United States.
However, the Imam is in stable condition but among his injuries is a partially collapsed lung.
There was a heavy police presence outside Omar Mosque in Paterson, including the sheriff’s office, as people returned to pray.
The Passaic County prosecutor said the suspect arrested is 32-year-old Serif Zorba of Paterson.
Surveillance video shows just after 5:30 a.m. as everyone kneels down, a man in a white hoodie walks over some people toward Imam Sayed Elnakib and stabs him. The suspect runs off and multiple community members sprint after him and hold him down until police arrive.
“The imam say, ‘Oh, he kill me. He kill me. Everybody follow this guy,'” witness Fadi Abulwad said. “He was bleeding a lot because he stabbed him in his neck.”
Abdul Hamdan, a spokesperson for the mosque, said there were around 200 people inside and the imam was stabbed at least two times, and added Zorba is someone that some people in the community say looks familiar but none of the mosque leadership recognises him.
“We expect that once the investigation is concluded that this will be an isolated incident. However, we have heightened our security in the mosque, along with Paterson police and Passaic County Sheriff’s Department,” Hamdan said.
“Good thing they catch him and he’ll get punishment and everything will be okay,” said Mustafa Halak of Omar Mosque.
Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh and Councilman Alaa Abdelaziz, who represents the area, visited the imam in the hospital.
“I feel like we could have lost this imam. He’s just praying in peace as are the 199 others that were there,” Sayegh said. “Paterson has the largest Muslim population in the state of New Jersey so I just want to let people know we shouldn’t have to be afraid to pray.”
“It’s scary seeing a guy … he’s a community leader. He’s there for everyone in this community and seeing him and his kids that I’ve seen grow up — they’re about my age — it was just scary seeing that,” Abdelaziz said.
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