United Kingdom – Investigators are still on the case after a 29-year-old man attacked a Muslim worshipper at the London Central Mosque in Regents Park this afternoon. The young man entered the holy building around 3:10 PM and sought out the mosque’s Muazzin, which is the person who essentially leads the service and recites the prayers. The Muazzin, who is a man in his 70s, was attacked and stabbed in the neck by the young man, and later taken to a local hospital.
Sources told the Independent that the victim is currently at the hospital recovering from injuries that are not life-threatening, and that he is in good condition. The attacker was arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder, and he is currently in police custody at the central London police station.
Many sources have speculated that this could be a racially motivated attack, but a statement from Scotland Yard said the incident was not being treated as “terror-related.”
According to Mustafa Field, director of the Faiths Forum for London, congregation members who witnessed the attack sprung into action to subdue the suspect as quickly as possible to restrain him while the mosque’s security team waited for police to arrive. Witnesses say that if it were not for the quick response of the other worshippers in the building, the man would have suffered far more serious injuries and may have even been killed.
Video footage that was released of the scene showed the suspect wearing a red hood as he was being carried away by police.
Eyewitnesses told CNN there were around 100 people in the mosque at the time of the stabbing.
Azay Ahmad, the advisor to the mosque said that the suspect had been seen at the mosque on previous occasions leading up to the attack.
“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,” Ahmad said.
The suspect was reportedly silent the entire time that he was in the mosque, and when he approached the Muazzin, he pretending to be praying behind him until he took out the knife and stabbed him.
While this incident is not being treated as a terror-related attack, many people around the world are describing it that way, especially considering that the incident comes just one day after a deadly shooting in the German city of Hanau, which took the lives of nine people. Officials say that the suspect in the Hanau shooting may have had “far-right extremist, racist motives.”
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.”
Police are on high alert and have been placed at other mosques throughout the city in preparation for a possible followup or copycat attack.