Eye witness calls London mosque stabbing '30 seconds of mayhem': report

February 21, 2020

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Police officers stand outside the London Central Mosque on Feb 21. — Reuters
Police officers stand outside the London Central Mosque on Feb 21. — Reuters

An eye witness to the recent stabbing at a mosque in central London described the incident as "30 seconds of mayhem", UK publication The Guardian reported on Friday.

A day prior, British police arrested a man on suspicion of attempted murder for the stabbing. In a statement, police officials had said: "A man in his 70s was found injured. His condition has been assessed as non life-threatening."

Meanwhile, photographs shared on social media from inside the mosque in Regent's Park had showed a white man in a red top being pinned to the ground and handcuffed by two police officers.

"The incident is not being treated as terror related at this time," the police had said on Thursday. However, despite his injuries muezzin Rafat made his way to London Central Mosque a day later for Friday prayers, Reuters reported.

Describing the harrowing event that took place, adviser to London Central Mosque Ayaz Ahmed told The Guardian: "When you had the scuffle, the muezzin obviously screeched [...] when he got attacked. The imam quickly ended the prayer and everyone just jumped because obviously no one knew what was happening […] it was a very distressing moment."

"The guy who gives the call to prayers [the muezzin] has been working here for 25 years […] five times a day he has been giving the call to prayer. He is a very respectable and well known man in the community. It’s just very shocking," he added.

"We have 24-hour security and security guards. There are security guards standing at the back, behind the prayer hall always. But obviously in that situation or scenario it's unforeseen [that] something like this would happen."

Ahmed also thanked law enforcement agencies and the ambulance service for their prompt response. "I called the ambulance service, they came immediately as well so a lot of gratitude to both the police and the ambulance services."

In a tweet on Friday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: "Places of worship should be sanctuaries — a safe haven. No one should be scared to attend mosques, churches, synagogues or temples."

The mayor added that in order to show solidarity with Muslims residing in London, he will offer prayers at the London Central Mosque.

Reacting to the incident on Thursday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had said: "I'm deeply saddened to hear of the attack at the London Central Mosque. It's so awful that this should happen, especially in a place of worship. My thoughts are with the victim and all those affected."

Additional input from Reuters and AFP