Muslim leader assaulted at mosque

A 53-year-old imam has been punched and kicked by a man who entered a mosque in the west end of Glasgow. Strathclyde Police confirmed that the incident, at the Dawat ul Islam centre, happened at about 1800 BST on Friday. Mohammed Shamsuddin was taken to the nearby Western Infirmary, but later discharged following treatment.

The suspect is described as white, possibly 35-45 years, approximately 5ft 7 to 5ft 9 tall, of medium build with short greying hair and wearing jeans.

Witnesses to the attack said the suspect verbally abused Imam Shamsuddin before punching and kicking him and then hitting him with a chair and other office equipment. Abu Mohammed, who was in the building at the time, said:

“I was downstairs getting ready for prayer when I heard a noise coming from upstairs. Me and a few other people went upstairs to see what was going on and we saw the Imam being attacked. He had blood pouring down from his face, the attacker saw us and ran away.”

BBC News, 14 October 2006

Update:  See also iWitness, 17 October 2006

Osama Saeed is quoted as saying:

“I know Imam Shamsuddin well from my days at Glasgow Uni, and hope that he’ll find the strength to return to his duties soon. It’s shocking that such a gentle man could be attacked in such a way.

“In the last few months we’ve had a coordinated strategy on the part of the government to set an agenda that there are extremists throughout the Muslim community, in our mosques, in our homes, and that we are being complacent about it.

“It’s been almost as if ministers have been taking turns in competing as to how tough they can be on Muslims, from Ruth Kelly, to John Reid and Jack Straw. In the last week just about every Cabinet minister has spoken about the veil, hoping to make political capital.

“It’s little wonder that bigots on the ground are taking their lead from this. Just last week Falkirk Mosque was set ablaze, and we’ve seen a spate of attacks in England. The public discourse needs to be far more responsible and balanced.”