On Thursday 20th February, Scotland Yard detectives initiated a probe into the attempted murder of the London Central Mosque’s muezzin during afternoon prayers. The alleged attacker was wrestled to the ground by worshippers, and later arrested by police officers.
Videos showed the police arresting a barefooted white man wearing a red hoodie and black trousers.
Reports said it was “30 seconds of mayhem” at the mosque in Regent’s Park. The muezzin, whom some reports named as Rafaat, is in his 70s, and has been attending the mosque for 25 years. He was “seriously injured” and rushed to a “major trauma centre” after being treated by paramedics at the spot. In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said,
“A 29-year-old man, who is believed to have been attending prayers, was arrested inside the mosque on suspicion of attempted murder. He has been taken into custody at a central London police station. The incident is not being treated as terror-related at this time.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that he was “deeply saddened” by the attack, and added: “It’s so awful that this should happen, especially in a place of worship.”
Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was “deeply concerned by this incident”, and the Met department was “providing extra resources in the area”.
In the meantime, the director-general of the Islamic Cultural Centre at the mosque, Dr Ahmad al Dubayan, said he hoped it was “only an individual incident. This place is iconic—not only for Muslims but for all the British society. Many Muslims come here, many communities come here.”
The Muslim Council of Britain said it would be reissuing its safety advice to mosques across the country. It said,
“Regardless of the motive of the attacker, we must remain calm but vigilant as we aim to balance the importance of retaining mosques as open spaces, and the security of worshippers.”