Imam and assistant shot dead in New York

14 Aug 2016 | by
Imam and assistant shot dead in New York

An Imam and his assistant have been killed by a gunman in New York as they walked home from Saturday afternoon prayers.

The killing of the two men in the borough of Queens was denounced as a hate crime with local members of the Islamic community blaming Donald Trump, accusing him of stoking Islamophobia.

Witnesses described the gunman as tall and Hispanic, he was reported to still be at large. Police said they were still investigating the motive.

The victims were named as Imam Alala Uddin Akongi, 55, a father of three who arrived in Queens less than two years ago from Bangladesh, and Thara Uddin, 65.

Police examine the crime scene where Imam and assistant killedCredit: Craig Ruttle/AP

They were gunned down a block away from Al-Furqan Jame Masjid Mosque in Ozone Park, where they had prayed together only minutes earlier.

According to one witness who described hearing five shots, the gunfire seemingly came from nowhere.

After the killings crowds of Muslims gathered to protest at the slaughter.

"He would not hurt a fly," said Mr Akongi's nephew Rahi Majid, 26. "You would watch him come down the street and watch the peace he brings."

In the wake of last December's terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California last December, which left 14 people dead, Mr Trump pledged to ban Muslims entering the United States.

The slaughter of 49 people at a gay bar in Orlando, Florida and the wave of terrorist outrages in Europe have also regularly been used by Mr Trump as evidence of a need for America to change its immigration policies.

Mr Trump, who has been accused of exploiting fears of Islamist attacks for political ends, was rounded on by members of the Muslim community in Queens.

The Bangladeshi community is one of the fastest growing in America, according to one estimate there could be as many as 100,000 in New York City.

“That's not what America is about,” said local resident Khairul Islam, 33. “We blame Donald Trump for this ... Trump and his drama has created Islamophobia.”

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