Attack on worshipers at a mosque in New Jersey is being investigated as an incident of prejudice

Investigators in Passack County, New Jersey, are investigating an incident in which two men broke into a mosque during a prayer service on Monday and began throwing stones at worshipers. Press release From the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office.

According to the prosecutor’s office, the investigation into the possible bias incident is active and ongoing.

Officials said no one at the Islamic Congregation of North Jersey (ICNJ), also known as Masjid Abu Bakr, was killed and no one was reported injured.

Burhan Uddin, who serves on the board of ICNJ, says two people had sustained leg injuries but did not require medical attention.

ICNJ was founded in 2014 and has a mostly Bangladeshi congregation, Uddin told NBC News.

Uddin, who arrived at the mosque on Monday after receiving a call about the incident, told NBC News about the incident that two people entered the mosque while one held the door open.

Uddin, who called the Passaic sheriff’s office upon learning of the incident, told NBC News, “They came around 8:40 p.m. before the sunset prayer and were pretending they were coming to pray. Huh.” “If you look at the video, one of them can be seen even pretending to take off his shoes.”

But they were not there to pray, he said. Video shared with NBC News shows two men, who were masked, entering the mosque at two different times.

The first time they enter, the men look around and one of them has a motion like taking off his shoes. Just as it looks like the two of them are about to leave, one of them comes back in and appears to be throwing something at the gathered congregation to pray.

In another video they enter the mosque again and both are seen throwing something towards the congregation.

“People are really scared and everyone is worried,” said Uddin. “This time it’s a rock, next time you never know, it could be a knife or a bullet.”

According to Uddin, this is the second time in eight months that the ICNJ has been attacked.

In December, a man entered the mosque and pushed the assistant imam, who was calling at the time to pray over a loudspeaker, Uddin said.

“He was shouting at the imam, telling him that the call to prayer is not in this country and we are not in this country,” he said.

Following the incident, Uddin filed a report with the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office. Calls to the Passaic County Sheriff and Prosecutor’s Office regarding this incident were not returned.

“Since this is happening so often now, what will happen next?” Uddin said. “Now we are trying to see if we can hire a security officer, which will be expensive. We are also looking at closing our doors and making it so that only people with a particular code can enter the mosque. can do.”

According to the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the ICNJ case is not an isolated incident. they have documented about 100 cases In the case of alleged favoritism so far in 2022.

“The purpose of houses of worship is to be places of spiritual refuge,” said Seladin Maksut, executive director of CAIR-NJ. ,Such disturbing incidents deprive them and their congregations of the peace they have been seeking.”

Maksut said the advocacy group is looking at “a trend in New Jersey’s mosques to install bullet-proof windows” and to “shut their doors during prayer.”

“It is not conducive to our growth or development as a community,” he said. “We continue to call on local authorities to support community-based organizations as they seek to protect themselves through hiring private security.”

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