Approached from behind and shot in the head without a word. That is how the “imam of the mosque of Ozone Park in Queens, New York, and his assistant dies. It was reported by the police, which reconstructed the dynamics of the murder. An action that, according to the local Muslim community, is clearly linked to a hate crime. According to some people, we should blame Donald Trump and his rhetoric, which has given rise to a veritable wave of Islamophobia.
Hundreds of people gathered near the crime scene to demand justice for the imam Maulama Akonjee and his assistant, Thara Uddin. The two victims, dressed in Muslim clothes, were attacked from behind, with no opportunity to defend themselves or escape. Akonjee, 55 and father of three children, had been a respectable religious leader ever since his arrival to New York from Bangladesh (less than two years ago). His assistant died a few hours later in a hospital.
The vigil organized in the evening was attended also by Sarah Sayeed – staff member of Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York – who is Director of Community Partnership. “I understand the anger, but it is important to conduct a thorough investigation,” said Sayeed, trying to calm tensions, which have skyrocketed.
The Muslim community of New York cannot accept the preliminary police track that would lead to the hypothesis of a robbery gone bad. “There is nothing in the preliminary investigation indicating that they have been attacked because of their faith”, underlines the deputy inspector of the New York Police Department, Henry Sautner.
Now, Muslim citizens are asking to treat this murder as a hate crime. It was an “attack against our religion,” says Khaled Rahman, a resident in the area. “We want justice,” read the banners waved during the vigil, where different religious communities gathered to discuss the case.