London mosque stabbing: Man arrested after attacking worshipper while he prays

‘It’s so awful that this should happen, especially in a place of worship,’ Boris Johnson says

Vincent Wood
Thursday 20 February 2020 17:08 GMT
Man arrested over London mosque stabbing during prayers

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A man has been arrested after stabbing a worshipper in the shoulder during late afternoon prayers at the London Central Mosque in Regents Park, police have confirmed.

Officers were called to the holy building in central London at 3.10pm to find the mosque’s muazzin – the person designated to lead and recite the call to prayer – had been stabbed.

The man, who is in his 70s, has since been taken to a major trauma centre where he is recovering from non life-threatening injuries.

A 29-year-old man, who police believe had been attending prayers, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder. He is currently being held in custody at central London police station.

A statement from Scotland Yard said the incident was not being treated as terror-related at this time.

Footage from the scene showed a young white man in a red hooded top being led from the mosque by police. In a seperate video a bladed weapon, less than 10cm in length, can be seen discarded on the floor.

Mustafa Field, director of the Faiths Forum for London, said worshippers had described the incident as consisting of ”one stab, one strike, around the neck” of the victim.

He added: “Then the congregation members, some of them broke their prayers, and intervened, restrained the individual.

“The mosque security called the police, and the police were there within minutes, and he was restrained and taken away.”

Azay Ahmad, the advisor to the mosque added: “Everybody’s reaction was shock and horror, the men were screaming ‘it was an attack going on’.

“It was a vicious attack. We live in a society where we hear a lot about knife crime and what have you but actually to physically be in a situation where you’re firsthand watching an attempted murder take place it’s very shocking.”

The man is understood to have been seen at the mosque prior to the incident, and is believed to have entered the building for prayers before the incident.

Mr Ahmad added: ”He has been noticed around the place for a couple of days. This is a central mosque, people come to pray if they’re on holiday. You get a lot of new faces.

“This guy was not a regular, I’ve never seen him here in 10 years.”

In the wake of the incident prime minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “I’m deeply saddened to hear of the attack at the London Central Mosque.

“It’s so awful that this should happen, especially in a place of worship. My thoughts are with the victim and all those affected.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan added: “I’m deeply concerned by this incident at London Central Mosque.

“Every Londoner is entitled to feel safe in their place of worship and I want to reassure London’s communities that acts of violence in our city will not be tolerated.

“The Met are providing extra resources in the area.”

The incident comes just a day after a gunman killed at least nine people after opening fire on two shisha bars in Hanau, western Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel said there were multiple signs the attacker, a 43-year-old who took his own life during the attack, had acted out of racism.

Lord Nazir Ahmed, the first Muslim life peer appointed to the chamber called for people to “take precautions and ensure that there is security in every Mosque during prayers”.

Mohammed Shafiq, CEO of the Ramadhan Foundation, added: “I pay tribute to local Muslims and police officers who stopped and controlled the situation which otherwise could have escalated.

“Whilst we await the full facts, one thing is clear Islamophobia is real and a threat to cohesive communities.”

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