London mosque attacked during prayers


The 70 year old ‘muezzin’ stabbed during prayers at the London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park, has forgiven his attacker and feels sorry for him.

The stabbing of Raafat Maglad during prayers at the London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park has been condemned by civic and religious leaders.

Mr Maglad, 70, has been the muezzin – who calls the faithful to prayer – at the mosque for 30 years. He was stabbed in the neck by a man who attacked him from behind. He was taken to hospital where his wound was dressed, and discharged that evening.

Twenty-four hours later, Mr Maglad returned to the mosque, with stitches in his neck wound and his shoulder in a sling, to continue to worship, saying he forgave his attacker and that he felt sorry for him.

The stabbing led to immediate concern that this was the latest in a pattern of attacks on Muslims and places of worship around the world. It followed an assault on shisha bars in Germany that left nine people dead. The Metropolitan Police, however, said the Regent’s Park stabbing was not terror-related.

A 29-year-old-man has been charged with causing grievous bodily harm and possession of a bladed article.

The London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre was established in 1944 after the British government gave a piece of land next to Hanover Gate, in Regent’s Park, to the Muslim community. The mosque itself was completed in 1977. It is a prominent landmark in London with a brilliant golden dome and can accommodate 5,000 worshippers. It cost £6.5 million and was built with donations from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The trustees see their role as fostering an “openness to all cultures” and engagement and interaction with society.

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Dr Ahmad al-Dubayan, director-general of the Islamic Cultural Centre, said the level of security at the mosque would be evaluated:

“I feel sorry about what happened in the mosque because this place is iconic not only for Muslims, but also for British society. Many Muslims and communities come here. This organisation is in full co-operation with the government and civil society. I hope it’s only an individual incident and not linked to anything else. We don’t know anything about the motivation.”

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, visited the mosque and Mr Baglad, the day after the attack:

“It was good to meet him. He’s worried that the impression will be created that places of worship aren’t safe and is keen to return today. There is an increased police presence around all mosques in London today – and in the course of the next few days and weeks leading up to Ramadan – not because we’ve received intelligence of a heightened threat, but to reassure worshippers, to reassure Londoners, that our places of worship – whether they are mosques, synagogues, churches or temples – are supposed to be sanctuaries and havens where you are free to worship without further attack.”

Qari Asim, deputy chairman of the Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group and a senior imam in Leeds:

“It’s really shocking, deeply concerning and the community is feeling vulnerable. Some people are questioning that if a knife crime had happened in another place of worship, some people would have called it a terrorist attack straight away. We do need to get the terminology right and the facts to be available, to make the right decision as to what this incident should be called. But it is a violent attack in a place of worship and as thousands of people attend Friday prayers across the country, the community is naturally feeling vulnerable.”

  • Image above: London Central Mosque, via Google Earth