A New Jersey imam was shot outside a mosque in Newark on Wednesday (local time). The imam was rushed to the hospital by authorities, but he later died, according to CNN.
It was unclear what motivated the shooting, but New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy promised to do what’s possible to protect the mosque.
The victim was identified as Imam Hassan Sharif. He was immediately taken to nearby University Hospital. He was in a critical condition when brought to the hospital, authorities said.
Sharif was shot after 6 am outside the Masjid-Muhammad-Newark Mosque, Newark Public Safety Director Fritz Fragé said in a statement.
Hours after the incident, police had no one in their custody. Authorities said, it’s unclear what led to the violence and if the imam was targeted.
Fragé said the shooting is under investigation and no other information is available. A message seeking more information was left with the mosque.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations in New Jersey (CAIR-NJ), the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation in the nation, is currently collecting information and encouraging individuals to reach out to local law enforcement.
“We are deeply concerned about this incident and pray for the speedy recovery of the imam,” CAIR-NJ spokesperson Dina Sayedahmed said in a statement.
Talking about the incident, Governor Murphy said, “At a time when the Muslim community is concerned by an increase of bias incidents and crimes, I want to assure the Muslim community and people of all faiths that we will do everything in our power to keep all residents safe, especially in or near our houses of worship.”
With inputs from agencies