Man stabs Muslim worshipper at California mosque, suspect on the loose

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said it was 'heartbroken' by the attack

Rachael Revesz
New York
Tuesday 13 December 2016 00:45
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John Henry Matteson was allegedly involved in the fight but did not commit the stabbing
John Henry Matteson was allegedly involved in the fight but did not commit the stabbing

A Muslim man was stabbed in an apparent hate crime near a mosque in California and one of the suspects is still on the loose, according to authorities.

The stabbing at the Jamiaa Raazi Islamic Center in Simi Valley led to the arrest of 29-year-old John Henry Matteson.

Police say the suspect in custody was involved in the fight with a group of people leaving the mosque but did not commit the stabbing, as reported by the LA Times. Another man is still being sought.

On Saturday night the two men approached the group of worshippers who were leaving the mosque about 11pm. They allegedly yelled racial slurs at the group, and the situation quickly escalated into a physical fight.

The unidentified man then stabbed one person who had been in the mosque. The victim was taken to Simi Valley Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The news comes as mosques around the state reported receiving letters, calling Muslims “vile and filthy people” and theatening genocide.

Matteson was taken into custody on suspicion of committing a hate crime, making criminal threats and fighting in public.

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He is being held on $250,000 bail. He was injured in the fight, read a statement from the local police department.

“Our belief is they hadn’t staked out the mosque at this point,” said Simi Valley Police Sergeant Travis Coffey. “It appears to be an opportunity crime.”

Hussam Ayloush, executive director of its Greater Los Angeles chapter of the The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said that Muslims in Simi Valley were “heartbroken” after the attack.

“It’s hard to believe that in this day and age we still have to deal with such hate and violence in our country, and especially in a place as diverse as Southern California,” Mr Ayloush said.

CAIR has reported more than 200 such attacks against Muslims across the US since the election.

The FBI also reported that hate crimes against Muslims grew 6.8 per cent in 2015 compared to the previous year, with a total of 5,850 crimes reported.

The number is likely to be much larger, they said, taking unreported crimes into account.

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