On Sunday, April 9, 2023, a stabbing incident occurred at the Omar Mosque in Paterson, New Jersey, in the United States. The incident happened while worshippers were observing Fajr prayer, the first prayer of the day, during Ramadan, the holiest month for Muslims. According to the mosque spokesperson, Abdul Hamdan, the assailant, who was also performing prayer with over 200 other worshippers, lunged forward with a knife and stabbed the imam, Sayed Elnakib, multiple times, puncturing his lung. However, the congregants managed to apprehend the attacker while he tried to flee, and he was held until the police arrived and arrested him. Mayor Andre Sayegh, who visited the imam at the hospital, said that he was in stable condition.
The incident has been deemed a hate crime and another instance of rising Islamophobia in the West. In Canada, last week, a “hate-motivated attack” on a mosque in Markham city, Ontario, shocked the country. These incidents are deeply concerning as they target religious communities during a time of spiritual reflection and worship.
The perpetrator of the attack, Serif Zorba, a 32-year-old man, was arrested and charged with first-degree attempted murder, third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon. The motive of the attack is still under investigation by the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office. While the community waits for the results of the investigation, it is essential to stand in solidarity with the affected community and condemn hate-motivated violence against any religious group.
Paterson, a city with a population of over 150,000, is home to one of the largest Muslim communities in the state of New Jersey, and New Jersey has more Muslims per capita than any other state in the US. Thus, it is crucial to prioritize the safety and security of all individuals in places of worship, especially during religious observances. Mayor Andre Sayegh has promised to increase security measures in mosques in Paterson to ensure the safety of worshippers during Ramadan.
In conclusion, the stabbing incident at the Omar Mosque in Paterson, New Jersey, during Fajr prayer is a shocking and heinous crime that has deeply affected the local Muslim community. Hate-motivated attacks against religious communities are unacceptable, and it is essential to stand in solidarity with those affected by such violence. As we wait for the outcome of the investigation, we must prioritize the safety of individuals in places of worship and work towards creating a world free of hate and violence.