65-Year-Old Imam Stabbed During Congregation in New Jersey Mosque

By Zoha Ali — Correspondent

A 65 year-old imam in Paterson, New Jersey got stabbed on Sunday, April 10, 2023 during his congregation in prayer.

Serif Zorba, the suspect, was arrested and charged for first-degree attempted murder, along with weapons charges. Imam Sayed Elnakib was quickly transported to St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in NJ. 

Juliana Kim from NPR says that the attack was during Ramadan, which is the holiest month for Muslims. “The attack comes weeks into Ramadan, a month of fasting and prayer that represents the most sacred time of the year in the Islamic tradition” she said. 

Celina Tebor and Miguel Marquez from CNN say that video footage shows people organized in five rows when a hooded man walks up to the front and stabs the imam repeatedly. “Surveillance video of the incident shows a group of worshippers at the mosque positioned in five long rows… a person wearing a hoodie in the third row moved to the front of the room,” they said. 

Livia Albeck-Ripka and Corey Kilgannon from the New York Times says that Serif Zorba was apprehended by the people that were at the mosque at the time. “Mr. Zorba was ‘subdued by congregants’ by the time the police arrived at the Omar Mosque after 5:30 a.m., according to a news release from the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, they said.

Albeck-Ripka and Kilgannon say that an active community member named Sikandar Khan said that Zorba was not an active prayer at the specific mosque; he was mostly isolated and no one knew him well. “The attacker, who had been to the mosque to worship before, was unknown to other congregants and was not an ‘active member’,” Khan said.

Kim said at a press conference Mayor André Sayegh said that there is going to be police presence at mosques to make sure everyone is safe. “There will be a heightened police presence at mosques throughout the city to ensure people’s safety in the remaining days of Ramadan,” Sayegh said. 

He continues to say that everyone should be safe while praying and also feel safe. “You should not be afraid to pray, you should feel safe to pray,” he said.

Albeck-Ripka and Kilgannon say that Mr. Khan had no idea what the motive was for this attack and he was shocked when it happened. “We’re extremely baffled and confused about why he would do such a thing,” Khan said. 

Chantal Da Silva from NBC news says that a spokesperson from the mosque, Abdul Hamden says that this incident will bring people together so people are there in time of need. “This will make us join with each other in a stronger fashion to even attend the mosque more regularly, to make sure we’re here with our brothers and sisters in solidarity,” Hamden said. 

Kim says that when Sayegh went to see Elnakib and said he was stable but was still suffering the stab wounds. “The imam was in stable condition despite ‘suffering some serious wounds’,” Sayegh said. 

Albeck-Ripka and Kilgannon say that Mr. Khan wishes the best for the imam and his family and wishes them a safe recovery. “Our prayers are with the imam and his family and wish him quick recovery,” Khan said. 

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