An Imam and His Assistant Murdered in Queens, New York
I heard the news on Saturday as my father-in-law headed out to our local mosque to pray his late afternoon Asr prayer – something he does daily. An imam and his assistant were shot point-blank in the back of their heads in broad daylight after leading the Asr prayers at their mosque in Queens, New York. Let’s pause for a moment here: In broad daylight.
Mosque leader Maulama Akonjee and his friend and assistant Thara Uddin, dressed in “Muslim garb” were approached from behind and shot by a “lone killer,” said NYPD Deputy Inspector Henry Sautner of the Queens South Detective Bureau. They are not calling it a hate crime yet, and the gunman remains at large.
Some are citing the rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric fueled by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as inciting violence against Muslims as a possible cause of the murder. “That’s not what America is about,” said local resident Khairul Islam in this article. “We blame Donald Trump for this.” Others say it is too early to tell what the motive was. But local residents and Muslims across the country were shocked by the murders.
Said Arab-American and Muslim activist Linda Sarsour in this Facebook update:
We do not yet know the motive in the murders of our Brothers, Imam Alauddin Akhanje [sic] and his assistant Thara Uddin in Queens as they were leaving the mosque after the afternoon prayer.
What I do know is that stories like these shake our communities to our core. We have heard and experienced enough hate and hate crimes to feel uneasy, confused, worried for our loved ones and families.
What I do know is that I love my community. We need to love one another, protect one another. We need to embrace our children who continue to hear these traumatic stories and are unable to process in this hostile political climate they found themselves living in.
We will not despair. In honor of these brothers, we will stay unapologetically Muslim. We will not change how we look or where we walk, or how we worship no matter what the circumstances. We will secure our institutions, we will stand up for our communities, we will love our children deeply. This is our country and we will continue to fight until all of us live freely and safely.
Sending you all love. May Allah give these brothers the highest level of paradise. May he protect our families and communities. May he erase the hate in people’s hearts. May He bring us closer together because our unity and faith is what will protect us.
And that’s it. That’s it exactly. Lead with love. Lead with humanity. Stay unapologetically Muslim.
Next: Donald Trump and Radical Islam