Muslim New Yorkers yesterday demanded stepped-up security and justice, urging police to arrest the killer of an imam and his assistant before hundreds of mourners attended their funeral service.
Maulama Akonjee, 55, who migrated to the United States from Bangladesh, and his friend, 64-year-old Thara Uddin, were shot dead in broad daylight on Saturday afternoon in the Ozone Park neighbourhood of New York’s Queens borough.
Police said yesterday they were questioning a suspect taken into custody for an unrelated incident, but say no arrest has been made specifically in connection with the murders.
The New York Daily News quoted police sources as saying the killer may have been settling a score in a feud between Muslims and Hispanics. Police say so far nothing indicates the two men were targeted because of their faith.
But members of the Muslim community insisted yesterday that police investigate the double murder as a hate crime, and dismissed suggestions that there was a turf war between minorities in the area.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations offered a $10,000 reward for any information that could lead to the arrest or conviction of the perpetrators.
“We want justice, we want justice, we want justice,” chanted Muslim elders at a news conference before the funeral got underway.
Community leaders, clearly rattled by rising Islamophobia, slammed “xenophobic statements” made against Muslims speech by “politicians and candidates seeking the highest office in the land” - a clear reference to Donald Trump.
Trump, the New York billionaire and Republican nominee, used a keynote address yesterday to demand ideological screening tests for immigrants. He has in the past called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country.
New York police “must not engage in giving mixed messages,” said one speaker, alleging that such messages create anger in the community.
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