A 29-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a mu’adhin was stabbed in the neck inside London Central Mosque yesterday just before Asr prayer.
The man, who is believed to be a regular attender at the mosque, was taken into custody at a central London police station.
Raafat Maglad, the mu’adhin, who is in his 70s, recovered in hospital with non life-threatening injuries and has now returned home.
Around 20 worshippers pinned the knifeman to the floor which probably prevented a life-threatening incident.
Eyewitness Adnan Ridha said: “We’ve got weak security inside the mosque and that’s the problem.”
Another eyewitness, Yazid Feniche, said: “What I heard is that the attacker is a Muslim who comes to the mosque and prays and he has mental illness. This kind of incident happened before with another Imam, Mohammad Salemani; it was five years ago or something, and he was blinded and this time is the second incident.
“The message I have for the government is that stabbing is becoming a fashion in London. I want teenagers to be protected because all the time I hear in the newspapers and on the TV about stabbing, stabbing, stabbing. Drugs and stabbing – you must have tough rules against this.”
Police were called to a mosque at 3.10pm to reports of a stabbing. Officers attended along with paramedics from the London Ambulance Service.
The incident is not being treated as terror-related at this time.
Chief Superintendent Helen Harper, Central-West Borough Command Unit (BCU), said: “This was a profoundly shocking incident inside a place of worship and an urgent investigation is being carried out into the circumstances. Although we believe this to be an isolated incident, patrols have been increased around the area of the mosque to provide reassurance to worshippers and the local community…
“I would like to thank everybody in the mosque who helped to detain the man before he was arrested and continue to help my officers with their enquiries. I’m extremely relieved the injuries suffered by the victim do not appear to be life-threatening. However, this incident has undoubtedly caused a great deal of concern and we are working as swiftly as possible to establish the circumstances. No other suspects are being sought at this time.”
Any witnesses who have not already spoken to police, or anyone with any information about the incident is asked to call police on 101 quoting CAD 4475/20FEB, or to remain 100 per cent anonymous, please give information via the charity Crimestoppers 0800 555 111 or at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.