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New York - Thousands Mourn Slain New York Imam As Police Question Man

Published on: August 15, 2016 05:04 PM
By: AP
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Children of slain Imam Maulama Akonjee stand prayerful in front of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio as he speaks at funeral services for the Imam, Monday Aug. 15, 2016, in New York. Imam Akonjee and Thara Uddin were shot in the head as they left the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque in the Ozone Park section of Queens as they left afternoon prayers Saturday. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)Children of slain Imam Maulama Akonjee stand prayerful in front of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio as he speaks at funeral services for the Imam, Monday Aug. 15, 2016, in New York. Imam Akonjee and Thara Uddin were shot in the head as they left the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque in the Ozone Park section of Queens as they left afternoon prayers Saturday. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

New York - Hundreds of mourners gathered in New York City on Monday for the outdoor funeral for a Muslim imam and his associate who were gunned down over the weekend, as police questioned a man about what many in their Bangladeshi community believe was a hate crime.

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Traditional Islamic services for Imam Maulama Akonjee, 55, and Thara Uddin, 64, drew a large crowd to a parking area near where the men were killed after Saturday prayers at the Al-Furqan Jame Mosque in the Ozone Park section of Queens.

Speaker after speaker at the funeral implored law enforcement to investigate the murders as a hate crime and step up efforts to protect sections of the city like Ozone Park where many Muslims live and work.

“We want justice,” Badrul Kahn, founder of the Al-Furqan mosque and its chief adviser, shouted to the crowd in the service’s opening speech. “We want justice,” responded the mourners, most of them men dressed in Islamic garb.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, addressing the funeral, promised that the city would bolster the police presence in the neighborhood even though the motive behind the killings was still unclear.

“We don’t know what happened but we will,” the mayor said.

“An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”

Community members pray next to the coffins during the funeral service of Imam Maulama Akonjee, and Thara Uddin in the Queens borough of New York City, August 15, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz  Community members pray next to the coffins during the funeral service of Imam Maulama Akonjee, and Thara Uddin in the Queens borough of New York City, August 15, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

The man who detectives were questioning on Monday had been detained on unrelated circumstances and has not been charged in the killings, a spokesman for the New York Police Department said. Earlier, NBC News and the New York Daily News said the man was a suspect, citing unnamed law enforcement sources.

Police had released a sketch of a male suspect with dark hair, a beard and glasses. NBC reported the man being questioned matched the description.

Police have said there was no evidence the men were targeted because of their faith but nothing was being ruled out.

Even so, the victims appeared to have been targeted by a gunman who stalked them as they left afternoon prayers at the Al-Furqan Jame Mosque and shot them in the head at close range at about 1:50 p.m. (1750 GMT) on Saturday, police said after interviewing witnesses and watching surveillance video.

The imam was carrying $1,000 in cash with him at the time of the attack but the money was not taken, the New York Times reported, suggesting robbery may not have been a motive.

Residents of Ozone Park were rattled by the brazen daylight killings, saying such a crime was rare in their quiet neighborhood.

Felix Lopez, 26, who has lived in Ozone Park for a decade and works at a barber shop, said the Muslims in the neighborhood, many of Bangladeshi heritage, were very friendly, and there is little rancor between racial and ethnic groups in the area.

“People aren’t messing with other people,” Lopez aid. “We’re all pretty shocked this happened.”

A man cries as community members take part in a protest to demand stop hate crime after the funeral service of Imam Maulama Akonjee, and Thara Uddin in the Queens borough of New York City, August 15, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo MunozA man cries as community members take part in a protest to demand stop hate crime after the funeral service of Imam Maulama Akonjee, and Thara Uddin in the Queens borough of New York City, August 15, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz


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Read Comments (8)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Aug 15, 2016 at 05:08 PM puppydogs Says:

Love how that fool of a mayor is playing the race card. What a joke he is.

2

 Aug 15, 2016 at 05:24 PM hashomer Says:

Reply to #1  
puppydogs Says:

Love how that fool of a mayor is playing the race card. What a joke he is.

Wow, what an ignorant and insensitve comment. So when a faith leader and his assistant are gunned down in broad daylight in NYC, the Mayor should not show support to the community? That's "playing the race card" to you? Obviously you know nothing about Bangladesh, and their long history of religious tolerance. Why did they break away from Pakistan? Oh, you didn't hear about that...

3

 Aug 15, 2016 at 06:14 PM ShatzMatz Says:

I'm no fan of De Blasio. But I would hope that when a prominent religious leader get assassinated in broad daylight, that the city would take it seriously. It is totally appropriate for him to be there and pledge support.

I happen to think this will turn out to be a result of inner strife in that community.

4

 Aug 15, 2016 at 07:04 PM mr613 Says:

So confusing to me......
They celebrate death they want to die for Allah they preach jihad but cry when their wish is granted to them?

5

 Aug 15, 2016 at 09:16 PM PaulinSaudi Says:

A good, fast arrest by the NYPD. Great work.

6

 Aug 15, 2016 at 09:51 PM yaakov doe Says:

Reply to #1  
puppydogs Says:

Love how that fool of a mayor is playing the race card. What a joke he is.

What are you trying to say?

7

 Aug 15, 2016 at 10:08 PM Anonymous Says:

sorry but when American Jews eer slaughtered in Israel, it was ignored by all the democRAT leaders, especially the vile traitor Obama, so #1's comment is entirely appropriate. Does it make u feel big to be able to say you're so UNracis, yonasonw? Er, I mean, hashomer? Or whichever screen name ur currently using?

8

 Aug 16, 2016 at 01:23 PM puppydogs Says:

Reply to #2  
hashomer Says:

Wow, what an ignorant and insensitve comment. So when a faith leader and his assistant are gunned down in broad daylight in NYC, the Mayor should not show support to the community? That's "playing the race card" to you? Obviously you know nothing about Bangladesh, and their long history of religious tolerance. Why did they break away from Pakistan? Oh, you didn't hear about that...

What does this have to do with the Mayor playing racial politics?

9

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