The Board of Deputies of British Jews has offered its support, after worshippers tackled a knifeman in a mosque, as he stabbed a man in his 70s who was leading the call to prayer.
A 29-year-old man, who is believed to have been attending prayers at London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park, central London, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder at the scene on Thursday.
The victim was taken to hospital, where his condition is not life-threatening, and Scotland Yard is not treating the attack as terror-related, or seeking any other suspects.
Witnesses told how the suspect attacked the muezzin, who makes the call to prayer, at around 3pm.
Board of Deputies of British Jews President Marie van der Zyl issued a statement saying: “Horrific news of a stabbing at Regent’s Park Mosque.
“Our hearts go out to the muezzin, his family and the Muslim community, and we pray for his swift recovery.”
It emerged that the suspect had been attending as a worshipper for around three months and had been seen with the victim in his office, according to a regular attendee.
Ayaz Ahmad, adviser to the mosque, said: “Everybody’s reaction was shock and horror, the men were screaming. It was a vicious attack.”
The mosque said members of the congregation broke from their prayers and restrained the attacker until police arrived.
Ahmad added: “It would have been life threatening if it wasn’t for the worshippers who helped stop the guy and apprehend him.”
Mustafa Field, director of the Faiths Forum for London, said it was “one stab, one strike, around the neck” of the victim.
“Then the congregation members, some of them broke their prayers, and intervened, restrained the individual,” he said.
Images posted to social media showed a white man in a red hooded top, jeans and bare feet being pinned to the floor by police officers inside the mosque, as others, including a small child, watched on.
One video showed a knife on the floor under a plastic chair.
The mosque remained open on Thursday night, with worshippers moved from the main hall but continuing prayers.
Mr Idha said: “He was close with the man who was stabbed, he would sit in his office with him.
The victim has been named by mosque-goers as Raafat.
Scotland Yard said the suspect was been taken into custody at a central London police station, adding: “The incident is not being treated as terror-related at this time.”