A muslim leader stabbed inside Regent’s Park mosque today said he was lucky to survive and vowed: “Nothing will stop me from praying”.
Raafat Maglad, 70, a muezzin who leads the call to prayer, was stabbed in the neck at London Central Mosque during prayers at about 3pm yesterday.
Around 20 members of the congregation rushed to tackle the knifeman, pinning him down until police and emergency services arrived. A suspect, 29, was today being quizzed on suspicion of attempted murder.
Mr Maglad, a father-of-three from Queen’s Park who leads the call to prayer five times a day, was rushed to hospital and was discharged this morning, his arm in a sling.
He told the Standard: “I was closing my eyes to pray and put down my head. It felt like someone hit me with a brick. It was terrible, there was so much blood. I put my hand up and tried to close the cut. Everyone stopped him and called the ambulance. I feel lucky. It could have cut my jugular and I would have had no chance.”
Pointing to his shoulder dressing, Mr Maglad added: “It affected my nerve. Doctors have told me I need an MRI to see how much damage, but I can’t move my right arm. It’s a dead weight, it’s heavy and numb. I have six stitches in my neck.
“I told the doctors I didn’t want to stay in hospital with all wires going in me so I asked them to discharge me early. I wanted to be at home.
“I would like to thank everyone who helped. Last night the emergency room was full of so many people supporting me. It was nice. This attack won’t change my behaviour. Nothing will stop me praying, and I will be back calling prayers as soon as I can. I have to find out if I need surgery first.”
Dramatic video footage of the aftermath of the attack shows the suspect being led out of the mosque in handcuffs. One video showed a knife on the floor under a plastic chair. Mr Maglad was prayer caller at the funeral of Dodi Fayed, killed with Diana, Princess of Wales, in the 1997 Paris car crash.
“Ayaz Ahmad, an adviser to the mosque, said of the attack: “Everybody’s reaction was shock and horror, the men were screaming. It was a vicious attack. We live in a society where we hear a lot about knife crime and it’s very shocking.”
Abi Watik, 59, who had been praying one row behind the attacker, said: “We were kneeling down, as we started saying Allahu Akbar he got the knife from under his trousers and cut him.
“He was behind him, and then we heard screaming, and the Imam stopped praying and the people who were behind him they catch him straight away and put him on the floor, then after that there was lots of blood.”
Of the knifeman, he said: “I’ve seen him many times in the mosque before, many times. He has been coming for about six months. Everyone was shocked, 20 people were around him and put him on the floor, he doesn’t even say one word. He doesn’t scream, he doesn’t swear. The other worshippers were very brave.”
Mayor Sadiq Khan said police would be providing extra resources. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that the attack was “awful, especially in a place of worship”. Scotland Yard is not treating the attack as terror-related or seeking any other suspects.
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