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New Jersey imam shot, critically injured, outside Newark mosque

An imam was shot and killed outside a mosque in Newark, New Jersey, on Wednesday, officials told Fox News Digital.

The religious leader, identified by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy as Imam Hassan Sharif, attacked the Masjid Muhammad Newark Mosque at South Orange Avenue and Camden Street around 6:15 a.m. A spokesperson for the Newark Police Department said in a statement.

Robert Florida, a spokesman for the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, told Fox News Digital that he was taken to University Hospital, where he died shortly after 2:20 p.m.

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An imam was shot and killed early Wednesday morning at the Masjid Muhammad Newark Mosque on Camden Street. (Fox 5)

RLS media reported, citing local sources, that the imam was preparing to participate in Fajr prayers, the first of five daily Islamic prayers, when the attack occurred. A gunman approached him and opened fire. It is unclear whether anyone was inside the mosque at the time of the shooting.

Sharif was shot multiple times, but authorities did not provide any other details about the killing at a news conference Wednesday night.

The motive for the shooting is unclear, but New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin said there is no evidence the killing was motivated by bias or domestic terrorism.

The investigation is being led by Newark Police.

Fox News contacted the FBI in New Jersey, which said it is not currently involved in the case.

Platkin said he is aware of the shooting and that his office is working with the Newark Police Department and the Essex County Prosecutor's Office to identify the perpetrator.

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The front of the Masjid Muhammad Newark Mosque at South Orange Avenue and Camden Street.

Masjid Muhammad Newark Mosque at South Orange Avenue and Camden Street. The imam who was shot and killed outside a mosque Wednesday morning is in critical condition, Fox News has confirmed. (Google Maps)

“We know that this act of gun violence will heighten fear and concern in our state at a time when bias incidents against members of the Muslim community are on the rise,” Platkin said in a statement.

“While this investigation is ongoing, we have no information at this time to suggest that the crime was motivated by bias. Of course, all angles are being investigated and every lead is being pursued to bring the perpetrators to justice.” It will be thoroughly investigated.” ”

Murphy said a prayer for Sharif.

“At a time when the Muslim community is concerned about an increase in bias-related incidents and crimes, I would like to urge the Muslim community and people of all faiths to do everything they can to keep everyone safe, especially those in and near our region. I would like to assure you that I will do my best to pray for you.'' Murphy posted on X.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, said it was shocked to learn of the shooting.

“At this time, we have no information regarding the perpetrator's motive,” CAIR-NJ spokeswoman Dina Saidamed said in a statement.

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Mr Saidmed said the imam was “a beacon of leadership in the community” and they “wish him a full and speedy recovery.”

Google Maps image identifying Masjid Muhammad Newark at South Orange Avenue and Camden Street

Map locating Masjid Muhammad Newark Mosque at South Orange Avenue and Camden Street in Newark, New Jersey (Google Maps)

“We are asking others to do the same,” Saidahmed said. “As always, and unrelated to this particular incident, we remain committed to keeping our doors open to all mosques, especially in light of the recent surge in anti-Muslim bigotry. I also advise you to remain cautious.”

Wednesday's shooting follows the stabbing to death of an imam leading worshipers in a New Jersey mosque in April.

“We will investigate all leads to bring the perpetrators to justice,” said Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Theodore Stephens.

A $25,000 reward is being offered for information about the shooting, authorities said.

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