Meet Mohammad Rafiq, an ex-Pakistan Air Force serviceman who leapt into action to save worshippers when an armed man burst into a Norwegian mosque on Saturday. Rafiq apprehended the shooter who opened fire at the Al-Noor Islamic Centre in Baerum, west of the capital Oslo.
Social media users are hailing him as a hero for seizing the attacker and taking his weapons from him. Media reports say he is 65-75 years old.
On August 11, Twitter user @QuillofAdal tweeted: “Muhammad Rafiq, 65, stopped an attempted mass shooting at his mosque in Norway, yesterday. Not sure if these news will travel outside Scandinavia, so mentioning it here. Respect to this man, but also a sober reminder of how dangerous white nationalism has become.”
How he prevented the mass shooting
In a video that was shared by news websites on social media, Mohammad Rafiq demonstrated how the shooter entered from the side door and opened fire. Rafiq pounced on him, locked him with his arms around the shooter and threw his weapons.
Tweep @PsychologyDoc posted a video with the caption: “This is Muhammad Rafiq. Know his name. A white supremacist terrorist tried to carry out Christchurch-style massacre in a Norway Mosque, so a 75-year-old jumped on him, held him in a chokehold and sat on him till police arrived. Don’t mess with Desi uncles!”
Not all superheroes wear a cape
Twitter users applauded Rafiq for his act of bravery.
@GujJAr146CIIT posted: “Not all superheroes are beardless, young, wear fancy costumes and caps , some are old, bearded, strong, brave and wear Desi Turbans. Humans like Muhammad Rafiq are the real superheroes who can make this world a worth-living place. SALUTE SIR! #NorwayMosqueShooting”
Some Twitter users highlighted a serious issue - Islamophobia and how a person’s faith and appearance affected people’s perception of them. Tweep @Noshi_Riyaz wrote: “‘Muhammad Rafiq’ the Hero who saved the world from another Christchurch attack... If these two walk into an airport who’s getting stopped and searched? #NorwayMosqueShooting”
And, @imbehzadqureshi posted: “One has stopped the other from mass shooting just before entering a mosque. Make a guess who is the terrorist here? 90 per cent would be with wrong answers because of false image of terrorism in their minds just because of fabricated media [reports]. #NorwayMosqueShooting”
Pakistani tweeps proud
Many Twitter users like @MSKM612 shared Mohammad Rafiq’s photo with pride. The tweep posted: “#MuhammadRafiq Sir we are proud off you and thank you for presenting your nation as a symbol of peace by your acts. You are a true Muslim, making #PakistanAirForce feel proud. People like you are true ambassador of Islam in the western world. Salute to you on bravery.”
And @ShaYaNYouSafZa8 posted: “Take a bow, sir! You’re a real life superhero. We hold our heads high.”