One hurt in Norway mosque shooting, suspect arrested

Police and emergency services attend the scene after a shooting inside the al-Noor Islamic center mosque in Baerum outside Oslo, Norway, Saturday Aug. 10, 2019. (AP)
Updated 11 August 2019

One hurt in Norway mosque shooting, suspect arrested

  • Norwegian police said they were aware that Saturday’s suspect had been active online prior to the shooting

OSLO: A gunman armed with multiple weapons opened fire in a mosque near Oslo on Saturday, injuring one person before being overpowered by an elderly worshipper and arrested, Norwegian police and witnesses said.
Hours after the attack, the body of a young woman related to the suspect was found in a home in the suburb of Baerum where the shooting took place earlier in the day, police said Saturday evening.
Investigators are treating her death as suspicious and have opened a murder probe.
The head of the mosque described the assailant as a young white man dressed in black and said he was wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest.
He said only three people had been inside the Al-Noor Islamic center at the time of the attack.
Police were alerted to the shooting shortly after 4 p.m. (1400 GMT).
Officers first reported that a victim had been shot, but later clarified one person had sustained “minor injuries” and that it was unclear if they were gunshot wounds.
Police said the suspect appeared to have acted on his own.
“It is a Norwegian young man, with a Norwegian background. He lives in the vicinity,” Oslo police spokesman Rune Skjold had told a press conference earlier Saturday.
Skjold added that the suspect had been known to police before the incident but could not be described as someone with a “criminal background.”
Norway was the scene of one of the worst-ever attacks by a right-wing extremist in July 2011, when 77 people were killed by Anders Behring Breivik.

“One of our members has been shot by a white man with a helmet and uniform,” Irfan Mushtaq, head of the mosque, told local media.
Mushtaq said that the man had carried multiple weapons, but that he had been subdued by a member of the mosque.
Mushtaq himself had arrived at the scene shortly after being alerted about the gunman, and had gone to the back of the building while waiting for police to arrive.
“Then I see that there are cartridges scattered and blood on the carpets, and I see one of our members is sitting on the perpetrator, covered in blood,” Mushtaq told Norwegian newspaper VG.
He said the man who apparently overpowered the shooter was 75 years old and had been reading the Qur'an after a prayer session.
According to Mushtaq, the mosque had not received any threats ahead of the shooting.
The attack took place on the eve of the Muslim celebration of Eid Al-Adha, marking the end of the Muslim pilgrimage Hajj.
Police said Saturday they would be sending out more officers so that those celebrating would “be as safe as possible.”

There has been a recent spate of white nationalist attacks in the West, including in the United States and in New Zealand where 51 Muslim worshippers were killed in March in shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch.
The Al-Noor Islamic center in Norway shares its name with the worst affected mosque in the New Zealand attacks.
Local Norwegian paper Budstikka said it had contacted the mosque in March after the Christchurch massacre and that officials there had said security would be tightened.
The suspect in the Christchurch killings wrote a hate-filled manifesto in which he said he was influenced by far-right ideologues including the Norwegian mass murderer Breivik.
Breivik detonated a massive bomb in Oslo that killed eight people and then opened fire on a gathering of the Labour Party’s youth wing on the island of Utoya, killing another 69 people, most of them teenagers.
Norwegian police said they were aware that Saturday’s suspect had been active online prior to the shooting.
Broadcaster TV2 reported they had learned the identity of the man and located a post to an online forum from someone using the same name, posted only hours before the attack.
The post seemingly praising the New Zealand attacker and ended with the words “Valhall awaits.”


Fears of Islamophobia in the UK even as record number of Muslim MPs elected 

Updated 15 December 2019

Fears of Islamophobia in the UK even as record number of Muslim MPs elected 

  • MCB warning comes after Johnson’s landslide election result
  • UK saw a record number of 220 women elected to the House of Commons   

LONDON: There is a “palpable sense of fear amongst Muslim communities” in the UK, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has warned, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson secured a crushing victory in the 2019 general election.
“We entered the election campaign period with longstanding concerns about bigotry in our politics and our governing party. Now we worry that Islamophobia is ‘oven-ready’ for government. Mr Johnson has been entrusted with huge power, and we pray it is exercised responsibly for all Britons,” the MCB’s Secretary-General Harun Khan said. 
The warning came as accusations of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party continue to plague it.
Despite concern that Islamophobia is “oven-ready” for government, a record number of Muslim MPs were elected on Thursday, with 19 winning seats in the general election; an increase of four from the last election in 2017.
Of these, 15 belong to the Labour Party and the other four, including Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid, are Conservatives. 
As the UK saw a record number of 220 women elected to the House of Commons, this trend was also seen in the number of Muslim women, with 10 winning seats. 
Despite this, Muslims are still not proportionally represented in parliament.
Only 3 percent of the UK’s 650 MPs are Muslim, whilst the country’s Muslim population stands at around 5 percent.
The MCB’s concerns about bigotry and Islamophobia were echoed on Thursday by ex-party chairwoman Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the first female Muslim cabinet member.
Warsi said the Conservative Party “must start healing its relationship with British Muslims,” and the fact that her colleagues in the party had retweeted comments from Islamophobes Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins was “deeply disturbing.” 
She added: “An independent inquiry into Islamophobia is a must — the battle to root out racism must now intensify.”
The Tory peer has repeatedly called for an inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, and told BBC Radio 4’s Today program in November that the party had a “deep problem” with Islamophobia. 
“Remember, we’re now four years into these matters first being brought to the attention of the party … the fact that we’re still prevaricating about even having an inquiry, and the kind of inquiry we’re going to have, shows just how dismissive the party have been on the issue of Islamophobia.”

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Labour MP for Bolton South East Yasmin Qureshi (L) attend a general election campaign event in Bolton, Britain December 10, 2019. (Reuters)


Later in November, Johnson apologized for the “hurt and offence” that had been caused by Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, and said that an inquiry into “every manner of prejudice and discrimination” would begin by Christmas. 
Despite apologizing, he remained silent about his own comments on Muslim women wearing the niqab in his Daily Telegraph column in August 2018, when he wrote that Muslim women wearing it “look like letter boxes” or “bank robbers.”
Fourteen party members were suspended in March after posting Islamophobic or racist comments on social media, and a member who had previously been suspended in 2015 for comments on social media was due to stand in local elections this year. 
Peter Lamb was readmitted to the party after he had served a suspension and apologized for his comments.
Lamb, who has since quit the party, tweeted in 2015: “Islam (is) like alcoholism. The first step to recovery is admit you have a problem.”
Yasmin Qureshi, a female Muslim Labour MP, has held her Bolton South East seat since 2010 and was re-elected on Thursday for the fourth time.
Speaking to Arab News, Qureshi said many Muslims were “very fearful and very disappointed” at Johnson’s victory.
“Generally, you can say whatever you want about Muslims in this country now and nobody is really bothered, nobody challenges it, and if it is challenged, it is very mildly dealt with.
“Islamophobia is a big issue and although everybody rightly spoke about anti-semitism, there was not as much emphasis and talk about Islamophobia.
“Islamophobia is not just in the Conservative party, it is actually in the establishment. It is especially present in the media in this country; most of the newspapers of our country are very right-wing and anti-Muslim.
She added: “It doesn’t matter whether you malign Muslims, it’s essentially okay, you can get away with it. That is sadly a reflection of the current state of affairs in the UK.”