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Protesters Demand Justice At Funeral Service For Slain Imam And Associate

Hundreds attended a funeral prayer service for Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin, who were fatally shot in the head after daily prayers at a New York City mosque.

Posted on August 15, 2016, at 5:18 p.m. ET

Hundreds attended a funeral prayer service on Monday for an imam and his associate who were fatally shot in the head in broad daylight after prayers at a mosque in New York City on Saturday.

Opening prayer and hundreds and people have arrived to see the press conference and funeral prayer.

Maulama Akonjee, the 55-year-old imam of the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque, and his 64-year-old associate, Thara Uddin, were shot in the back of the head two blocks away from the prayer center in the Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens. They where they had just concluded afternoon prayers on Saturday. Akonjee had about $1,000 on him, but it was not taken, the New York Times reported.

Police detained a suspect Sunday night but did file charges or release further details.

Sketch of alleged shooting outside the Masjid Al-Aman.

A prayer service for the victims and a press conference was held at the mosque on Monday.

Bodies of the imam and his associate have arrived for funeral prayers. #OzoneParkShooting

Heavy police presence for the press conference/funeral prayer for the two Muslim men shot and killed on Saturday.

Several people held banners saying "Stop Hate Crimes" and "United for Justice."

A scene of the crowd, waiting for the press conference to start.

Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the crowd saying, "All of New York City is with you. All of New York is mourning with you."

Mayor De Blasio says "All of NYC is with you. All of New York is mourning with you."

"New York City is a better place and a stronger place because of our Muslim communities," de Blasio said. "And we know there are voices all over this country who are spewing hate, trying to create division, trying to turn one American against another."

New York City is a better place and a stronger place because of Muslims, Mayor De Blasio says. #OzoneParkShooting

A large group began marching down the street in protest, chanting, "We want justice."

Massive protest is moving down the street. Shouts for justice. Not sure if police expected this.

Citing police sources, the New York Daily News reported Monday that the suspect may have been settling a score in a feud between Muslims and Hispanics in the neighborhood.

Members of the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque display a police sketch of the suspect.
Craig Ruttle / AP

Members of the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque display a police sketch of the suspect.

But many community members told BuzzFeed News that no such feud existed.

Mosharraf Hossain, an elementary school teacher, said, "We Muslim people have no problem with [the Hispanic community.] Why would they kill an old man?" He added, "For Muslims here, we try to live in harmony with everybody. We don't have problems with people and if we do we try to solve it. We never continue the fight."New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, who represents the area, told BuzzFeed News that he did not want to comment on the reported feud as the police had not yet made a final determination on the incident and had not indicated that the attack "was motivated by the religion of the victims." He also refrained from describing the attack as a hate crime saying he was following the direction of the police. In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Gianaris said, "Our Muslim neighbors are as much a part of our country as any of us, and they deserve to feel safe walking the streets of our neighborhoods without fear for their safety."
Craig Ruttle / AP

Mosharraf Hossain, an elementary school teacher, said, "We Muslim people have no problem with [the Hispanic community.] Why would they kill an old man?"

He added, "For Muslims here, we try to live in harmony with everybody. We don't have problems with people and if we do we try to solve it. We never continue the fight."

New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, who represents the area, told BuzzFeed News that he did not want to comment on the reported feud as the police had not yet made a final determination on the incident and had not indicated that the attack "was motivated by the religion of the victims."

He also refrained from describing the attack as a hate crime saying he was following the direction of the police.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Gianaris said, "Our Muslim neighbors are as much a part of our country as any of us, and they deserve to feel safe walking the streets of our neighborhoods without fear for their safety."

Two other residents told BuzzFeed News that despite several robberies occurring in the neighborhood, there were no problems between the Hispanic and Bengali Muslim communities.

Atoine Kirkland, 26, who has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years said, "It is horrible that this happened. There are robberies here all the time but I don't know of any feud between the two groups. This area's got problems but that's not something I know about. ""We are all neighbors," another man said outside the mosque. "We stand up for each other."
Twitter: @TalalNAnsari

Atoine Kirkland, 26, who has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years said, "It is horrible that this happened. There are robberies here all the time but I don't know of any feud between the two groups. This area's got problems but that's not something I know about. "

"We are all neighbors," another man said outside the mosque. "We stand up for each other."

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