LONDON: A man attacked the elderly muezzin at one of London’s main mosques on Thursday, stabbing him in the neck before being arrested.
Metropolitan Police said they were called to London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park after reports of a stabbing.
"The attacker was apprehended by the worshippers until the police arrived and arrested him," the London Central Mosque Trust said in a statement.
The attack targeted the muezzin, who performs the mosque’s call to prayer, the Muslim hate crime monitor TellMAMA, said.
Ayaz Ahmad, an adviser to the mosque, told Arab News that the attacker stabbed the victim whilst standing behind him in the afternoon prayer. He added that the assailant was held down by worshippers after the attack.
“His injuries are not threatening but there is a wound to his neck, it wasn’t very deep but enough to have a lot of blood loss. It was very traumatic for everyone,” Ahmad added.
The victim, who is in his 70s, was treated by paramedics before being taken to hospital. Worshippers said that he has been a member of the congregation for “decades.”
Police said a man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder and a crime scene was put in place.
Video showed police subduing a man inside the mosque before leading him away in handcuffs. He was wearing a red hooded top and no shoes.
Director-general of the Islamic Cultural Centre, part of the mosque, Dr. Ahmad Al-Dubayan described the attack and the emergency services’ response while confirming the victim was in a good condition.
He told Arab News: “We don’t have any information about the motive for this incident, why he did this or who he is even.
“Of course, we are unhappy about what happened, but we all hope that it was an individual attack and nothing linked to anything further than this attack itself.
“But we are worried and sorry about what has happened.”
A makeshift area for sunset prayers was set up in the mosque so that worshippers could still pray despite the incident.
London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was “deeply concerned” by the incident.
“Every Londoner is entitled to feel safe in their place of worship and I want to reassure London’s communities that acts of violence in our city will not be tolerated. The Met are providing extra resources in the area,” he said on Twitter.