NJ police seek killer of a Muslim leader outside Newark mosque

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Police in New Jersey hunted Thursday for the killer of a Muslim leader who was shot outside his mosque before morning prayers, offering cash to anyone who can help them make an arrest. Authorities said they had no evidence that religious hate motivated the imam’s slaying, but vowed to protect people of faith amid soaring reports of bias attacks across the U.S.

The killing of Imam Hassan Sharif as he prepared to open the Masjid Muhammad-Newark mosque on Wednesday has generated an intense law enforcement dragnet. The state’s attorney general pledged to assist county and local officials, and the Essex County sheriff announced a $25,000 reward.

Sharif’s shooting comes amid intensifying bias incidents against Muslims and Jews since Hamas committed terror attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, provoking a punishing war in the Gaza Strip.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, recorded more than 2,000 bias incidents against U.S. Muslims in the first two months since the Mideast attacks began, up from nearly 800 in the same period last year.

“While the perpetrator’s motive remains unknown and irrespective of this specific incident, we advise all mosques to keep their doors open but remain cautious especially given the recent spike in anti-Muslim bigotry,” said Dina Sayedahmed, a spokeswoman for CAIR’s New Jersey chapter.

Attorney General Matt Platkin said Wednesday there’s no evidence yet that Sharif’s killing was a hate crime, but he and other officials didn’t detail how they determined that, or offer more details beyond saying Sharif was shot more than once in his car at about 6 a.m., and was quickly taken to the adjacent University Hospital, where he died in the afternoon.

First appeared on amsterdamnews.com

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