CAIRO – Oslo’s largest mosque imam has been admitted to hospital after being seriously wounded when masked assailant attacked him with axe late on Monday, June 16, while returning home.
“He had injuries to his fingers and hands, which suggests that he tried to defend himself with his fists,” Ghulam Sarwar, Oslo mosque’s chairman, told Aftenposten on Tuesday, June 17.
The 57-year-old imam, Nemat Ali shah, was seriously injured on one side of his face along with several wounds under one eye while returning from the Central Jamaat Ahle-Sunnat mosque, according to Sarwar.
Admitted to Oslo University Hospital’s Ullevål facility, the imam has undergone surgery.
“His situation is now reportedly stable,” Oslo Police District operations leader Rune Ullsand told NRK, the Foreigner reported.
According to witnesses, the assault occurred at 23:16 in Motzfeldts gate in Oslo’s eastern borough of Grønland.
“He was wearing black jogging trousers with a white stripe, a green and black-colored jacket, and grey shoes with white soles,” Officer Ullsand informed Dagbladet.
“We’ve secured video footage and have interviewed several witnesses.”
Monday’s attack is not the first against the area’s Muslim community and Jamaat Ahle-Sunnat mosque.
In September 2013, Muslim worshippers found a severed pig’s head outside Norway’s largest mosque, Central Jamaat-e Ahl-e Sunnat.
In the same month, before Muslims came to pray on Friday, a huge banner of a sausage was erected outside a mosque in Fredrikstad, with the inscription “Always a wiener for a Muslim” written on it.
Meanwhile, an anonymous extremist group has threatened to burn all mosques across the Northwest European country, sparking angry reactions from the peaceful religious minority.
The attacks against Oslo’s imam left the capital’s Muslim community “shocked”.
Oslo mosque’s chairman stressed that the “imam had no known conflicts with anyone at the moment”.
“We are not aware that our imam has any conflicts with anyone, and he has not received any threats,” Sarwar said.
“We are very shocked.”
In the recent years, far-right politicians in Norway and across Europe have accelerated their rhetoric against Muslim minorities.
In 2011, far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed at least 76 people in twin attacks on a government building and a youth training camp in Oslo.
The right-wing extremist said that his assault was a self-styled mission to save European “Christendom” from Islam.
He argued his victims deserved to die because they supported Muslim immigration, which he said is adulterating pure Norwegian blood.
Norwegian Muslims are estimated at 150,000 out of the country’s 4.5 million population, mostly of Pakistan, Somali, Iraqi and Moroccan backgrounds.
There are nearly 90 Muslim organizations and Islamic centers across the northern European country.