‘Muslim Lives Matter’ – Communities React to Killings

In the wake of the killings of a Queens imam and his assistant, Brooklynites rallied. (Photo via Ditmas Park Corner)

In the wake of the killings of a Queens imam and his assistant, Brooklynites rallied. (Photo via Ditmas Park Corner)

Community leaders and politicians in Brooklyn gathered on Coney Island Avenue the evening of Aug. 15 to rally in protest against the killings of Bangladeshi Imam Maulana Akonjee, 55, and his assistant Thara Uddin, 64, two days earlier in Ozone Park, Queens. Carly Miller of Ditmas Park Corner writes that Pakistani activist Shahid Khan said: “Today, we are all Bangladeshi.” A suspect, Oscar Morel of East Flatbush, Brooklyn, was charged with the killings late Monday, but the police have not said whether the crime was a hate crime or not.

For many in the local South Asian community, though, there seemed little doubt that the imam and his assistant had been targeted.

“There’s a lot of sadness. And some people here are afraid. Somebody could come and start shooting here, I could be dead, too,” said Javed Khan, chairman of the Pan American Merchants Association of Coney Island Avenue.

Yesterday, neighbors traveled to Queens for the funeral of Akonjee and Miah, came home for evening prayers at the Makki Mosque, then filed out onto Coney Island Avenue with signs declaring “Muslim Lives Matter” “Stop Hate Crimes” and simply, “Peace.”

Anthony O’Reilly of Queens Chronicle took the pulse of the Bangladeshi community following the murders.

Somir Uddin, a leader at the mosque [Al-Furqan Jame Masjid], said many in the Islamic community have been victims of hate crimes in recent months.

“A lot of people, they don’t like us,” said Uddin.

Ozone Park resident Nazrul Islam said one of his neighbors and four other people attacked him, knocking out one of his teeth and causing other injuries. When Islam reported the crime, his car was vandalized.

“I’ve had to rent a garage for the past couple of weeks,” he said.

Roka Hasan said he’s been bullied at his Ozone Park school.

The Majlis Ashura (Islamic Leadership Council) of New York has called an emergency meeting for the tri-state imams and community leaders, to be held Wednesday, Aug. 17 at Masjid Omar Ben Abdulazeez at 88-29 161st St., Jamaica, Queens, NY 10432. The Islamic Leadership Council has also started a GoFundMe page to help families of the victims.

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