In a shocking incident that has sent shockwaves through the community, Imam Hassan Sharif of Masjid-Muhammad-Newark in Newark, New Jersey, was fatally shot in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The assailant remains unidentified and is currently at large, leaving both the community and authorities on high alert.
Imam Sharif was discovered outside his mosque with multiple gunshot wounds before dawn and was swiftly transported to the hospital. Despite medical efforts, he succumbed to his injuries, leaving the community in mourning.
During a press conference, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin stated that preliminary investigations indicate the attack was not driven by domestic terrorism or bias. He acknowledged the rarity of releasing such information early in an investigation but emphasized the necessity to address heightened fears within the Muslim community due to global events and increasing prejudice.
Governor Phil Murphy expressed his condolences and reassured the public, particularly the Muslim community, that every effort would be made to ensure the safety of residents, especially around places of worship. A reward of $25,000 (£19,000) is being offered for any information leading to the apprehension of the perpetrator.
Neighbors, interviewed by local news channel WABC-TV, speculated that the attack may be linked to rising crime rates in Newark, New Jersey’s largest city. Paulette Williams, a Newark resident, pleaded for an end to the crime plaguing the area.
Imam Sharif, known for his role as a transportation security officer at Newark Liberty International Airport, was revered as a pillar of leadership and excellence by the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The organization expressed devastation at the news of his killing.
Senator Cory Booker took to X, formerly Twitter, expressing his heartbreak over the shooting death of Imam Sharif. He conveyed solidarity with the Masjid Muhammad members and the broader Muslim community in New Jersey.
Aneesah Abdullah, a local resident, spoke to CBS, describing Imam Sharif as “just a good person overall,” emphasizing his positive impact on the community. As the investigation unfolds, the community grapples with the loss of a beloved figure, and authorities work tirelessly to bring justice to Imam Sharif’s grieving family and congregation.