Sharjah: A university mosque imam has been stabbed by a former student, police sources have confirmed.
The attacker, a Palestinian Canadian, stabbed American University of Sharjah Iraqi imam, Diaa Al Swaidan, when he was walking home after completing his prayers at the mosque.
Police sources said the attacker stopped his car in front of the imam and jumped out of the car holding a knife. The imam tried taking the knife from the man’s hand, however the offender resisted and stabbed the imam in his shoulder and sped off.
Police closed all the gates to prevent the assailant from leaving the campus and chased the attacker who hit five cars as he was trying to escape.
Police said the attacker was suffering from psychological problems and they found medication in his bag.
American University of Sharjah (AUS) issued a statement saying the attack was an unfortunate incident and that the AUS imam was slightly injured in an altercation that occurred outside his residence on campus.
They also said the assailant was a visitor to the university campus and was in an agitated state at the time of the incident.
“It is of course most unfortunate whenever any member of our community is injured in an episode of this type, and I am gratified that the injuries suffered were superficial and that no serious damage was done,” said Dr Thomas Hochstettler, Acting Chancellor and Provost.
The campus was sealed off for a brief period of time.
“It is important to note that no students, no faculty, and no staff were at any time in any danger. I want further to congratulate and commend the security guards and police for their most timely and effective intervention. Our campus is an extremely safe environment for the students and families who live here, and this episode in no way can be considered as anything but an isolated event,” added Dr Hochstettler.
“I was shocked to hear that the imam was stabbed because everyone likes him and he is a known figure loved by all students” said AUS alumni, B.K, Jordanian.
“I was sitting in class when a girl entered the lecture and started screaming and yelling ‘The imam got stabbed’. We were all in a state of shock even the professor was shocked and he cancelled the class. I don’t understand why someone would want to hurt an imam, I was really frightened by the incident and I am glad that the offender has been caught,” said AUS student Ayah Hamam, a Jordanian.