Imam attacked in Glasgow mosque
by Imran Azam, IWitness
WORSHIPPERS at a West End mosque are stepping up security after their Imam (leader of prayer) was assaulted.
The congregation at the Dawat ul Islam mosque on Oakfield Avenue have been left in a state of shock after the horrific attack on Mohammed Shamsuddin. The elderly Imam, who has been suffering from ill health, was allegedly beaten by a man who entered the mosque office and began to attack him with a chair and other office furniture.
Khalid Rehman, a close family friend of the Imam, spoke exclusively to the iWitness revealing the Imam's horrific ordeal.
He said: "A man came into the mosque holding some stones and asked the Imam something along the lines of why Allah permits people to be punished with stones. However since the Imam was speaking to someone else this person apologised and went away. At the same time another women who was going to the mosque saw someone outside the mosque ranting and raving. She was so concerned at his behaviour that she decided not to go inside. Instead she phoned her family and told her about this stranger. Shortly afterwards it is thought he went inside to assault the Imam."
Mr Rehman, who accompanied the Imam back to his house after he was released from hospital, further revealed that this was not the first time the Imam had been confronted by this individual.
He added: "About three months ago a stranger knocked on his door. The same guy knocked on his door about a month a go too. He wanted the Imam to tell him about Sufisim (a mystical interpretation of Islam). According to the Imam it's the same guy who attacked him."
Imam Shamsuddin, 53, is originally from Bangladesh and has been leading the prayers in the mosque for seven years. The attack is thought to have taken place at around 6 pm. The Imam was initially punched and kicked and then hit with a chair. The attacked fled after being confronted by other worshippers. Abu Mohammed was one of the first people on the scene.
He said: "I was downstairs getting ready for prayer when I heard noise coming from upstairs. Me and a few other people went upstairs to see what was going on and we saw the Imam being attacked. He had blood pouring down from his face. The attacker and saw us and ran away." Abu Mohammed also stated how when he attended the same mosque earlier he noticed how the office door has been "kicked in" as if someone was trying to "force their way in".
Another visitor to the mosque told the iWitness how he saw someone outside the mosque at around 6.15 who was "banging his head against a brick" and shouting he was "sorry". Speaking anonymously he added: "I don't know if it was the same guy. It's a good chance it was him. He seemed to have a mental problem".
The police hope that CCTV footage from nearby Hillhead High School may show that alleged attacker. The mosque camera was not working at the time. The attack comes shortly after a fire caused thousands of pounds of damage to a mosque in Falkirk. The police are treating the blaze as suspicious.
The Dawat ul Islam mosque can hold up to 250 worshippers and is attended by many Glasgow University and Hillhead High Muslim students. The Police are urging witnesses to come forward especially give that it's the month of Ramadan and many Muslims were going to the mosque to pray and open their fast.
Political leaders to blame for Islamophobic attacks
Media Release from the Muslim Association of Britain
Commenting on the attack on an imam at a Glasgow mosque, the Muslim Association of Britain said that if fitted a wider pattern of attacks against Muslims. They added that the public debate surrounding Islam and Muslims had to be carried out with more care.
Osama Saeed of MAB said:
"I know Imam Shamsuddin well from my days at Glasgow Uni, and hope that he'll find the strength to return to his duties soon. It's shocking that such a gentle man could be attacked in such a way.
"In the last few months we've had a coordinated strategy on the part of the government to set an agenda that there are extremists throughout the Muslim community, in our mosques, in our homes, and that we are being complacent about it.
"It's been almost as if ministers have been taking turns in competing as to how tough they can be on Muslims, from Ruth Kelly, to John Reid and Jack Straw. In the last week just about every Cabinet minister has spoken about the veil, hoping to make political capital.
"It's little wonder that bigots on the ground are taking their lead from this. Just last week Falkirk Mosque was set ablaze, and we've seen a spate of attacks in England. The public discourse needs to be far more responsible and balanced."