Imam Maulana Akonjee and his assistant and friend Thara Uddin were shot and killed in Ozone Park, Queens, New York on Saturday, Aug. 13, at approximately 1:55 P.M.
According to police, Imam Maulana Akonjee, 55, and Thara Uddin, 64, were shot and killed in broad daylight, walking back from Al-Furqan Jame Masjid, after prayer. Henry Sautner, NYPD Deputy Inspector of the Queens South Detective Bureau, said of Imaam Akonjee and Uddin “they were approached from behind and shot.”
The victims were found on Liberty Avenue with gunshot wounds to their heads. Uddin was taking to Jamaica hospital where he was on life support until he passed away.
Some believe Thara Uddin and Imam Maulana Akonjee’s religious garb and the nature of the crime, committed in early afternoon and with no apparent motive, implies that the two men were targeted.
Police are saying it is too early to determine a motive but locals, gathered at Liberty Avenue Saturday evening, were chanting a different tune, a “We want justice” tune.
Imam Akonjee has been described as humble, soft-spoken and peaceful. Akonjee’s nephew said his uncle had no problems with anyone. Misbah Abdin, a leader of a local non-profit and a member of the mosque, described Imam Maulana: “He is a very religious, pious person, he doesn’t talk unless he acts. He just comes to the mosque and comes home, he has no outside world.”
This tragedy has disturbed many, including the Bangladeshi community in which the victims belonged. Witnesses described the scene as chaotic and reported seeing the shooter running away after shooting the two men.
This senseless violence and death is unacceptable and what’s equally disturbing is the very real possibility of this being a targeted act of violence against Muslims.
In an America where a presidential candidate can spew and encourage hate and violence-inciting rhetoric, hate crimes and groups are rising. The facts are not all in, but when they are, I hope that this act is properly labeled. An act of terrorism should be called an act of terrorism because this was definitely not over a parking dispute.
Muslim women and men are being told to be careful simply walking to the store or in this case, walking home after prayer, an act of peace and worship.
From Allah we come and to Him we return. May Allah grant Imam Maulana Akonjee and Thara Uddin the highest level of Paradise.
#SayAmeen #PrayforAkonjee #PrayforUddin
Written by Maryam Abdul-Kareem