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Thursday, February 22, 2024
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New Jersey Community Mourns Loss of Imam: Father, Ex-Boxer, and Advocate Against Violence

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In a shocking incident that sent waves of grief through New Jersey, Imam Hassan Sharif, renowned for his roles as a father, former boxer, and anti-violence activist, was tragically shot and killed on Wednesday. The community mourns the loss of a beloved figure who dedicated his life to combating gun violence.

Fatal Encounter: Morning Shooting Outside Masjid Muhammad-Newark

The assailant approached Sharif in the parking lot of Masjid Muhammad-Newark shortly after morning prayers, firing two shots at approximately 6:15 a.m. The imam, who had passionately fought against the very violence that claimed his life, succumbed to his injuries at University Hospital later in the day. Authorities are actively investigating the motive behind the attack and are on the lookout for the suspect.

Outpouring of Grief: Condolences from Across New Jersey: Imam

Expressions of grief and condolences flooded in from citizens, community leaders, officials, and clergy across New Jersey. The untimely death of Sharif is seen as a heartbreaking contradiction to his tireless efforts in the fight against gun violence.

Community Call for Justice: Newark Councilman’s Plea

Newark Councilman Patrick Council, speaking at an interfaith assembly outside the mosque, emphasized the community’s call for justice. Echoing Sharif’s commitment to righteousness and ending oppression, Council urged the perpetrator to surrender, emphasizing the community’s collective commitment to justice.

Legacy of Advocacy: Sharif’s Impact Beyond the Mosque

Hassan Sharif’s impact extended beyond his role as an imam. He actively worked with young people, organized community events, and ran afterschool programs addressing gun violence. His advocacy included providing hot meals, hosting civic engagement events, and offering a safe haven for those surrendering non-violent arrest warrants.

A Multifaith Mourning: Leaders Express Sorrow

As a member of the Newark Interfaith Alliance and an officer for the Transportation Security Administration, Sharif’s influence reached beyond the Muslim community. Leaders of various faiths, including Cardinal Joseph Tobin, expressed deep sorrow at the loss of a dedicated advocate.

Broader Concerns: Attacks Against Muslim Americans

The tragedy comes amid heightened concerns over attacks against Muslim Americans, particularly since the Israel-Hamas war. Law enforcement has pledged increased patrols at mosques, although officials indicate that Sharif’s killing does not appear to be bias-related or an act of domestic terrorism.

Past Encounters: Sharif’s Previous Brush with Gun Violence

Revealing a chilling parallel, it was disclosed that Sharif had faced gun violence in August. Disarming an assailant outside the mosque, he expressed compassion for the perpetrator in a Facebook post, emphasizing his commitment to fostering positive change.

Ongoing Investigations: Reward Offered for Information

As investigations continue, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect. The New Jersey Muslim community, grappling with the loss of a dedicated advocate, awaits funeral arrangements, reflecting on Imam Hassan Sharif’s impactful legacy.

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