Imam stabbed while leading prayers at US mosque; suspect pleads not guilty

The imam is now in stable condition after sustaining serious injuries; city mayor bolsters security around mosques, particularly throughout the holy month of Ramadan

Photo courtesy: Facebook
Photo courtesy: Facebook

By Web Desk

Published: Tue 11 Apr 2023, 6:22 PM

Last updated: Tue 11 Apr 2023, 6:23 PM

An imam had been stabbed at least twice while leading the first prayer of the day at a mosque in New Jersey, US, and on Monday, the suspect pleaded not guilty to an attempted murder charge.

A CCTV camera inside the Omar Mosque captured the attack, allegedly showing the suspect walking towards the front of the room to stab the imam as he knelt during the prayer at around 5.30am on Sunday, according to US media reports.

The suspect — who was identified as Serif Zorba, 32 — tried to flee but a 200-strong crowd of mosque-goers were able to bring him down and hold him until the police arrived, the reports added.

Zorba was charged with attempted murder in the first degree, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose in the third degree, and unlawful possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. He pleaded not guilty as he virtually appeared in court on Monday.

Imam Sayed Elnakib, on the other hand, is now in stable condition after sustaining serious injuries.

The mayor of the city of Paterson, where the mosque is located, vowed to beef up security around mosques in the area, especially throughout the holy month of Ramadan.

"You should not be afraid to pray," Mayor André Sayegh was quoted as saying in a media report. "You should feel safe to pray anywhere in the city of Paterson."

Zorba, a native of Istanbul, is currently held on pretrial detention, and he is expected to appear in another court hearing on Thursday. Investigations are still ongoing and the authorities hadn't provided any details yet on the suspect's motive.


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